Annapolis ballet troupe turns 15 with style

November 02, 1995|By J. L. Conklin | J. L. Conklin,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Ballet Theatre of Annapolis has a lot to celebrate as it enters its 15th year. Under artistic director Edward Stewart, the dancers look better than ever, they move like an ensemble, and their technique has been carefully polished, as was apparent in their fall concert over the weekend.

Although American Ballet Theatre's Cynthia Harvey didn't show, ABT principal dancers Christine Dunham and Wes Chapman more than made up for her absence.

Opening the program was Mr. Stewart's sparkling "Sapphire Romance," set to Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 2. From the start, all the dancers seemed tuned to one another, Sandra Prehoda and David Miller especially so.

The Grand Pas de Deux from "Sleeping Beauty" followed, and Ms. Dunham and Mr. Chapman were simply spectacular in their dancing. The final fish dives -- in which Ms. Dunham recklessly dives head-first to the floor, only to be caught by Mr. Chapman at the last possible second -- were performed with an insouciant wit.

The premiere of "Passion," set to an original musical score by Leonard Moses, clearly demonstrated Mr. Stewart's fine musical acumen and creative ability.

With its South American flair and tango-inspired movements, "Passion" is bright and lusty and full of machismo, thanks to the expressive dancing of David Miller, Luis Rolando Torres Ortiz, Michael Snipe and Jeffrey Watson.

"Passion" turned to romance in the second of the three sections, yet found its passionate expression at the dance's close. Mr. Stewart's work challenged the dancers to stretch themselves, and his company brilliantly accommodated him.

The only negative was the length of the program. Mr. Stewart included his fanciful "Orientale," as well as the re-creation of Act 2 of "Swan Lake."

"Swan Lake" featured Ms. Dunham and Mr. Chapman and the artistic director himself as the evil sorcerer Von Rothbart. Ms. Dunham was enchanting, and her interpretation and phrasing of the dance were remarkably coherent. As members of the swan chorus, the Annapolis dancers were exceptional, and the cygnets -- Laura Erdman, Ethel Leslie, Anmarie Touloumis and Shari Vazquez -- were light and precise.

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