Troupe provides a study in strength

Ballet: Weekend's performances allow Annapolis ensemble to showcase its talents.

March 02, 2000|By Mary Johnson | Mary Johnson,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Talk about contrasts. From a classic pas de deux to a jazzy ballet for four male dancers to a new piece with 17 female dancers, the Ballet Theatre of Annapolis is offering a wide variety of performances this weekend showcasing the strengths of its members.

In performances tomorrow and Saturday, the ballet will perform Prokofiev's "Romeo and Juliet" balcony scene, choreographed by artistic director Edward Stewart, and "Le Corsaire" choreographed by Petipa, and Act II of "Giselle," with choreography by Jean Coralli and Jules Perrot.

Other works include the pas de deux from "Esmeralda," choreographed by Jules Perrot and Cesare Pugni.

Then on to two new pieces by Edward Stewart -- one called "Split Decision," for the male members of the company, and another for the female members.

In "Split Decision," Stewart has choreographed a ballet that combines classical and jazz, with two of the men representing jazz in contrast to the more classic pair.

Pausing before a rehearsal this week, Stewart said his work for the men was aimed at dispelling the misconception that male dancers lack the strength displayed by other athletes.

The combination of agility, strength, timing and athleticism demanded of male dancers is extraordinary, he said.

Ballet training is rigorous and begins at an early age, Stewart said -- by age 10 in Russia, where male dancers face under harsh, and sometimes brutal training. Although there is more freedom in this country, training for the ballet is more arduous and time-consuming than for most other athletes.

The long hours of practice are worth it, according to Jeffrey Watson, a BTA member since 1994 and an alumnus of Dance Theatre of Harlem.

Watson pointed out that male dancers have many compensations. "If you want to meet women," he said, there is "no better place to meet than at the dance studio."

Three members of the male dance quartet are Russian natives, including principal dancer Dmitry Tuboltsev, who joined BTA in 1997 after performing in a similar capacity for the Bolshoi Ballet in Moscow. New this season is Dmitry Malikov from the Moscow City Ballet. BTA soloist Andrey Shevaldin danced in the Moscow Ballet Theatre.

Equally proud of his female dancers, Stewart has designed an abstract ballet devoid of story to showcase their talents.

This ballet will be danced to Bizet's Symphony in C.

Malikov and wife Ninel Cherevko will dance the pas de deux from "Esmeralda." Tuboltsev and Natasha Kiryanova will be featured in Petipa's "Le Corsaire." "Longings," a romantic pas de trois, will feature Anmarie Touloumis, Jennifer Dancesia and Jeffrey Watson dancing to the music of Jules Massenet.

BTA principal ballerina Zhirui Zou will dance the role of Juliet with Shevaldin as Romeo in the balcony scene from "Romeo and Juliet," with music by Sergei Prokofiev and choreography by Edward Stewart. This is one of the most lyrical scenes in all of ballet.

The final piece on the program is Act II of "Giselle," a ballet that tells the story of a peasant girl charmed by a count disguised as a peasant, who proclaims his love for Giselle.

In the second act, Giselle, who has died from a broken heart and is now with the Wills, maidens who did not marry their fiances in life and now force their visiting lovers to dance until death.

Zou will dance the lead role of Giselle with Tuboltsev as Count Albrecht and Shevaldin as Hilarion. Anmarie Touloumis will dance Myrtha, Queen of the Wills, with soloists Natasha Kiryanova and Ninel Cherevko.

Seats are available for both 8 p.m. performances tomorrow and Saturday. Information: 410-263- 8289

Pub Date: 3/02/00

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