Despite financial woes, Md. Ballet shows vitality at Dundalk college


March 25, 1991|By J. L. Conklin

Reports of the demise of the Maryland Ballet have been greatly exaggerated. Its matinee at Dundalk Community College yesterday gave no indication of failing health. Artistic director Phillip Carman may have lost a few company members, but the core of the company and Mr. Carman's choreography remained intact.

Opening the program of five dances was Mr. Carman's "The Awakening," which featured a cameo appearance by the choreographer. Adapted from the scandalous novella by Kate Chopin, the work is a hallmark in Mr. Carman's choreographic repertoire. Set at the turn of the century, the dance economically records a heroine's journey from dutiful wife to doomed woman of passion.

Sometimes the novelty of a new dance is what captures our interest, but "The Awakening" has held up throughout several performances and cast changes. It is the way the dance matches the collaged score by Satie, Faure, Debussy and Massene. Both the human action of the dancers and the emotional overtones of the score are masterfully intertwined.

Jeanne Leporati, as Edna Pontellier, is restrained, almost dreamy in her dancing. Yet there is a sense of depth that is equally intriguing.

Tish Ford and Barry Leon provided a classical interlude in "Mignon Pas de Deux." Ms. Ford's extensions were long and emphatic, her phrasing neat and crisp. Mr. Leon's flourishes and long, solid jumps made this well-performed grand pas de deux particularly exciting.

Michael Smuin's "Bouquet" was a last-minute substitution for "Fratras." "Bouquet" is a dance within a dream. This work is similar in tone to "Spectre de la Rose," but it has an O. Henry ending. Both flesh and apparition, Yvonne Racz's thoroughbred form was rhythmically attuned but her movements too often lacked a sense of completion. Ted Sothern gave an engaging, straightforward performance full of vitality.

Continuum" is probably the most difficult dance that Mr. Carman has choreographed for his company. In two sections, the work is hung on the stark framework of Arvo Part's percussive, arrhythmic, atonal score.

Beginning with a duet, Brad Parquette and Sue Ann Wolfe delineate the space with sharp, angled movements. But it is the second section that the company charges through, amazing us with their difficult and demanding unison work.

While it's true that the Maryland Ballet has been beset with financial problems, the dancers are still dancing. With a little luck and money, they'll perform in Baltimore in May.

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