The Washington Ballet, performing at the Kennedy Center, is offering an inspired program of choreography and dancing, even though Graham Lustig's new ballet, "Hearts of Light," needs some adjustments.
The abstract, lyrical ballet, which is set to Sir Michael Tippet's music, "Fantasia Concertante on a Theme of Corelli," has a theatrical, almost Shakespearean sheen. At the start, the dancers step forward and take bows with a flourish; they form tableaux that spring to life, create small dramas with one another and give sparkling solos.
It was obvious at the beginning that "Hearts of Light" needed some polishing, though by mid-section the dancers had gained confidence and the work became more interesting. The dance was only dimly engaging, and its lush romanticism, hyper-dramatics and petty posturing were mere theatrical facade.
However, there were moments in the dance that were finely realized. The men's duet with Jian Wang and Christopher Doyle featured a witty interplay between the men and the music; a unison section for the women nicely wove itself around the musical phrasings of the violins; and a reiterated pas de deux was danced with technical authority by John Goding and Francoise Thouveny.
Monica Levy's "Overstepping" must be as difficult to dance as it is to watch. Throughout the contemporary work, five dancers -- one woman and four men -- are constantly shifting off center, bending or crumbling their torsos. The work is in a constant state of flux, and Eve Beglarian's score, overlaid with text by Rilke, added to the disorientation. While it is troublesome at times to follow, the work is nonetheless compelling. Several times, Melanie Anderson was lifted and passed from man to man, like a banner. At the conclusion, it is her body ascending to the heavens that remains as the work's central image.
Company members Christopher Doyle and Michael Kruzich presented two well-crafted duets with the same subject matter -- relationships. "Within Reach," nicely danced by Mr. Kruzich and Ryan Taylor, explored the tender side of male bonding in a simple and forthright manner.
Mr. Doyle's "Day's Journey/Night's Dream" featured Mr. Doyle and Francoise Thouveny exploring the playful side of infatuation and the more pensive side of passion.
Choo San Goh's "Double Contrasts" opened the program. Here, the company gave off sparks. It was in that work in particular that the Washington Ballet reaffirmed itself as an intelligent, elegant company of dancers.
What: Washington Ballet
Where: Kennedy Center Terrace Theater
When: 7:30 tonight, tomorrow and Sunday; 2 p.m. matinees tomorrow and Sunday.
Tickets: $30; $27.50 for matinees
$ Call: (202) 467-4600