The Washington Ballet boldly took charge of Goucher's Kraushaar Auditorium stage last night as they confidently whipped through a program of four demanding works that would have toppled any lesser troupe.
But, the Washington Ballet is a world-class company -- with world-class dancers able to take the most difficult choreography in stride.
It is a company that has as its choreographic backbone the artistic sensibilities and works of Choo-San Goh and at its heart the far-seeing vision of its founder and artistic director, Mary Day.
"A Handel Celebration" -- a work in four movements combining excerpts from "The Water Music" and "The Royal Fireworks" -- could have been a stuffy work. Yet choreographer Vicente Nebrada contrasted the majestic stance of Handel's well-known music with movements that were as bright as the beautiful pastel-and-gold capes that draped the seven dancers.
Particularly notable was Mr. Nebrada's series of three pas de deux in the second movement. Each couple brought their own specific aura of drama and commitment to their dancing and created a deeper intimacy than the one seen before.
In complete contrast to this generously proportioned opening dance was "Overstepping," choreographed by Monica Levy to music by Eve Beglarian. Where "Celebrations" was full of light, this dance was fully of dark mystery. Danced brilliantly by Yan Chen with Runqiao Du, Ryan Taylor, Christopher Doyle and John Goding, Ms. Levy's highly contemporary and lengthy work was equally spellbinding and curiously distancing.
Anthony Tudor's "The Leaves Are Falling" pas de deux was as classical as this company dared to venture. Both Francoise Thouveny and Kevin Mckenzie performed with just the right amount of abandonment and nostalgia.
The Washington Ballet's Baltimore performance ended last night with "Unknown Territory" by Choo-San Goh. A full company affair, the work shows off the magic of Choo-San Goh's special sensibility as he arranges the 16 dancers with a sculptor's eye for detail coupled with his genius for rhythm. Too bad this terrific company was unappreciated with such a small audience. The company will perform again tonight at 8 p.m. in the Kraushaar.