Spring performance better than last fall's 3-part BTA program shows strengths, some problems

March 24, 1998|By Judith Green | Judith Green,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

The Ballet Theater of Annapolis' spring performance last weekend at Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts in Annapolis was an improvement over the disorganized, unmusical mess of last fall's "Dracula."

The three-part program showed the company in proper repertory for its size and ability.

It began with "Minkus Variations," a compilation of bon-bons from Leon Minkus' full-length ballets "Paquita" and "Don Quixote," and ended with "3 Moons Unveiled," a new work by Anton Wilson, a former BTA dancer. In the middle was Edward Stewart's "Rite of Spring," a respectable interpretation of Stravinsky's ballet.

In "Minkus Variations," a pointe ballet, the choreography was tailored to the dancers.

The women clearly had worked on their solos, but they need more daily pointe work; none has the ease or speed of a dancer to whom pointe shoes are second-nature.

Natasha Kirjanova was dazzling in the "Don Quixote" excerpt and her partner, Russian dancer Dmitry Tuboltsev, danced with bravura despite a back injury sustained some weeks ago.

Stewart's "Rite of Spring" followed the original libretto closely: a tribal celebration of the renewal of life after winter, culminating in the sacrificial dance of a maiden (Leslie Bradley). The choreography was clean, bold, properly aligned to Stravinsky's polyrhythms. The dance of the maidens was striking in its ritualized movements and floor patterns.

The program notes assured us that the rite is culturally nonspecific (though the ballet is subtitled "Scenes From Pagan Russia"). Had the costuming limited itself to unitards -- white for the maidens, earthen for the tribe, etc. -- it might have succeeded in being universal. But the shaman and attendants are in ugly masks reminiscent of Hopi kachina dolls.

Wilson's work suffered from poor technical support and an apparent lack of rehearsal.

Muddled lights on the cyclorama did not suggest much of the Native American moons (Green Corn, Big Sun and Ripe Berries) the dance intended to convey.

The costumes, tunics over aerobic wear, belonged in an athletic club. Most of the music -- by One Tongue and Cassandra Wilson -- was lovely, but the finale, jazz fusion by Luis Conte, was no help to the dancers. Finally, the dancers seemed crowded on stage. With these handicaps, it was difficult to assess the choreography.

Pub Date: 3/24/98

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