Two new works present challenge for Annapolis ballet


April 16, 1991|By J.L. Conklin | J.L. Conklin,Special to The Sun

ANNAPOLIS -- Ballet Theatre of Annapolis closed its 10th anniversary season this weekend with two new works: "A Night in Vienna," created by Lisa Hess, formerly with the New York City Ballet, and "Alice in Wonderland," by the company's artistic director, Edward Stewart.

Mr. Stewart's "Wonderland," based on an amalgam of Lewis Carroll's classic tales, was like the little girl with the curl. It was either very good or horrid.

Mr. Stewart featured most of Lewis' important characters, plus a few new additions, in his two-act ballet. With colorful and inventive costumes, and a cast of dancers of all ages, this ballet had the younger set in mind with its slapstick representations of the story. Yet there was enough serious dancing to interest adults as well.

"Wonderland's" first act was primarily a series of vignettes. Various characters paraded in and performed while Alice (Kristen Peterson) simply stood to the side, waving goodbye when they exited. It was only in the Mad Tea Party that Alice's character became truly involved in the dance.

The second half of the ballet was better integrated. The various solos and pas de deux were balletic in nature and Mr. Stewart's Carnation and Orchid Pas de Deux were well crafted and thoughtfully performed.

Notable performances included Mary Danetta Mamock's Dormouse, Luke Loy as the March Hare and David Miller as the Mad Hatter. Junior company member Laura Babel was terrific in her role as the Cheshire Cat. Even behind her ever-grinning mask, Ms. Babel's bright personality and fine technical skills shone.

One of Mr. Stewart's additions, a trio of chickens (Leslie Bradley, Renee Chenue and Ethel Leslie) brought laughter with their "Swan Lake" parody. Mr. Stewart, bellowing "off with her head" as the Queen of Hearts, evoked squeals of delight.

"A Night in Vienna" opened the program. Set to various waltzes by Johann and Josef Strauss, and constructed along traditional elements, "Vienna" challenged the techniques of the two soloists, Mr. Bradley and Heidi Gucinski Menocal.

But the two principal dancers, Ms. Chenue and Mr. Miller, took Ms. Hess' choreography in stride. Particularly attractive was the bright and brassy closing section, with its can-can kicks and quick turns.

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