Dance troupe celebrates fifth year with old works

October 05, 1990|By J. L. Conklin

Maryland Ballet

Where: Baltimore Museum of Art.

When: Tonight at 8, tomorrow at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m., Sunday at 4 p.m.

Tickets: $20 for evening performances; $18 for matinees.

Call: 576-2400.

Five years ago, choreographer Phillip Carman saw a cultural gap in the city that he thought he could fill: Convinced that Baltimore deserved a ballet company, he and Dr. Daniel Kane, a pediatric dentist, decided to create one. The first performance the new troupe gave was in a living room as a backers audition.

Today, the dancers of the Maryland Ballet no longer dance in living rooms (unless it's their own). They have their own studio in downtown Baltimore and a 26-week contract with the company. This weekend the company will mark its fifth anniversary at the Baltimore Museum of Art with a special program of dances redrawn and revived from Mr. Carman's choreographic repertory.

Refining older works is something Mr. Carman considers natural. While some choreographers may believe that once a dance is set, it's set for good, he sees his work as something that can change to fit the dancer.

"It's not a definite thing," says the artistic director. "It's not like a painting where once it's done it's done and you hang it on the wall and it's finished. I'm never a slave to what was done before . . . a new person is a new instrument. Each one has something to offer that is uniquely theirs. I would hate to stifle that for the sake of a step, so I let [the dancers] have their own voice -- not stylistically but in terms of expression. Ultimately the job of a choreographer is to make the dancers look as good as they can."

What's more, he said, "When it's all said and done, [audiences] don't remember steps, they remember effect, theatricality and images. What you see when you look at dance is an impression of what you've just seen. A choreographer works not for the moment but for the memory. What I try to do is organize pictures in time and to create certain images that will remain with you. If I achieve a few of those, I've done my job."

Opening this weekend's program will be a reconstruction of "Siebentanz," the first dance ever performed by the company -- until a year and a half ago called the Harbor City Ballet -- in Baltimore. Mr. Carman said as an added treat, video sections of this first performance will be shown on a screen on stage.

In keeping with the nostalgic mood, the program will also featursix selected excerpts from the 30 dances Mr. Carman has choreographed for the company. Highlights will include "I Got Rhythm" and "Embraceable You" from his dance "By George." Several sections from "Double Helix," "When We Two Parted" and the pas de deux from "The Awakening" will also be featured.

Closing the evening will be the world premiere of "Night Mu-sic," set to Mozart's "Eine Kleine Nachtmusik" and "Zweite Lodronische Nachtmusik." It will feature Michelle Lucic.

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