Versatility is evident in dance concert

May 19, 1994|By J. L. Conklin | J. L. Conklin,Special to The Sun

The Baltimore School for the Arts' spring dance concert this weekend showcased the school's young and considerably talented students in works by established choreographers, works that were several notches above the average choreographic fare at student concerts.

The program was a smorgasbord of styles that displayed the students' versatility in ballet, modern and jazz technique.

The choreographic roster was impressive and included: "Tchaikovsky Suite," the lyrical ballet by the Sacramento Ballet's artistic director, Ron Cunningham; "Civil Wars," by the Paul Taylor Company's principal dancer, David Grenke; local choreographer Stephanie Powell's "Moebious"; and award-winning Broadway choreographer Hinton Battle's jazz ballet, "Pieces of a Dream."

"Tchaikovsky Suite" nicely evoked the musical phrasings and put a new slant on the traditional grand pas de deux format by interjecting a women's trio between the principal solos. The dance focused on the skills of Jessica Miller, along with Nicole Cornell, Chris Anderson, Michele Kolb and Michael Snipe in the principal roles, and 14 dancers in the corps de ballet.

Mr. Cunningham's choreography gave the dancers -- especially Ms. Miller -- a series of difficult phrasings that were accomplished with proficiency. These high school students could give any college-level dancers a run for their money.

"Civil Wars," by Mr. Grenke, was an enigmatic yet visually compelling work. A central pair of dancers slowly repeated a game of patty-cake while a couple wildly entered and exited and another pair simply stood stiffly bent at the torso. Midway through the dance a woman crossed the stage by rolling on the floor. Mr. Grenke's work was filled with contrast.

Ms. Powell's "Moebious" had a science fiction subtext that underscored its hyper-charged angular movements. Of all the dances on the program, this work had the most problems -- not with the dancers but with the dance's organization. The work was a slave to Orbital's long and repetitious techno music.

"Pieces of a Dream," choreographed by Mr. Battle, was the program's showstopper. A glitzy, Broadway-inspired work in five sections, it showcased what this group can do. From Nicole Cornell's vampy campiness in "Refuse to Dance," the comedic love 'em and leave 'em overtones in "What Now My Love" (featuring Mr. Anderson, Emily King, Shelly McMillian and Magdalena Oziemkowska), to the sultry sensuality of "Tango" (with Ms. Miller and guest artist Stephen Smith, a dancer with the Alvin Ailey company and BSA graduate), the dancers sparkled with talent and energy.

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