Kent Stowell and Francia Russell, the husband-and-wife team who share artistic direction of Pacific Northwest Ballet, were recently recognized with a 1996 Dance Magazine Award for their contribution to the art. If the program we saw at City Center recently was any criterion, the two are more than worthy of the honor. In a program consisting of Ton Simons' "The Tenderness of Patient Minds," Stowell's "Duo Fantasy," Nacho Duato's "Jardi Tancat," and the Petipa "Paquita," staged by Yelena Vinogradova, Stowell and Kent proved that they had produced a company capable of encompassing all forms of dance.
"The Tenderness of Patient Minds," to a Mozart score, was a world premiere. Although Paige Parks and Manard Stewart led a flawless cast in the first and third movements, Ariana Lallone and Phillip Otto danced the entire second movement in an exquisite pas de deux that stirred both head and heart.
Even after a lifetime of viewing duos, we can state Lallone and Otto danced a love duet that was almost beyond belief in the utter conviction with which they performed. And still their fervor was never overdrawn. In her knee movements and leg thrusts Ariana Lallone conveyed the desire that was matched by her partner's every glance--quite a change from a pas de deux in which the dancers are much more inclined to play to an audience than to each other. With it all, through a complexity of patterns that worked from floor to the upright, this team displayed technical prowess as well as enchanting nuance.
Violin soloist Marjorie Kransberg-Talvi and conductor Stewart Kershaw gave an inspirational rendering of the Mozart score.
The title "Duo Fantasy" was a bit of a puzzler, since three dancers are involved: one man (Jeffrey Stanton) and two women (Patricia Barker and Anne Derieux). The work seemed to be a series of views on the games people play when let loose on a beach. The dancers in the beginning are enclosed in a glass cage, but they indulge in similar antics when the cage is lifted. Or is the glass surrounding the dancers supposed to be a pool, since the ladies are garbed in attractive swim suits? Still, Stowell's choreography accomplishes a piquant romp.
We couldn't help wondering whether "Duo" was in some way influenced by the legendary Nijinsky's "Jeux." Stowell nevertheless accomplished for the beach the provocative theme that Nijinsky created for one man and two women on a tennis court.
There is an unwritten law that every ballet company, if keeping up with the times, must acquire at least one "life is hard" piece. Nacho Duato's "Jardi Tancat" certainly served that purpose in a completely contemporary vein.
The dancers are seen attempting to till the soil and generally suffering through duets, solos, and groups to the strains of flamenco music and song. Title, meaning, and action all seem to follow the contemporary creed, "never explain anything." The work does illustrate that the dancers of Pacific Northwest Ballet can absorb modern styles with utmost ease. The profound sextet consisted of Alexandra Dickson, Ariana Lallone, Julie Tobiason, Manard Stewart, Benjamin Houk, and Ulrik Wivel.
Although anything reminiscent of the Russian Imperial Ballet style may leave some balletic snobs foaming at the mouth, like it or not, this seldom fails to please audiences--particularly when staged with authority and performed in majestic style. Such was the case with "Paquita," staged by Yelena Vinogradova; the lady knows her territory. She is the wife of Oleg Vinogradov, former artistic director of the Kirov Ballet, and costume designer for this production.
Patricia Barker performed the Imperial ballerina with all the grandeur of the goddess status that was delegated to those dancers in days of old. Soloists Melanie Skinner, Kimberly Davey, Alexandra Dickson, Carrie Imler, Jeffrey Stanton, and Barker all performed their variations with coruscating flair. If the men were overshadowed, you must remember that, as in the old Russia, the ballerinas were the ones placed on pedestals.
A Rare Threesome
For 1996-97, three major American dance companies--American Ballet Theatre, San Francisco Ballet, and the Lar Lubovitch Dance Company--have joined in an unprecedented collaboration to produce an original evening-length ballet version of Shakes-peare's "Othello." The dance, to be created by Lar Lubovitch, will have its world premiere at New York City's Metropol-itan Opera House, in May 1997.
The ballet will be performed by ABT as the highlight (and the only world premiere) of its spring season at the Met. Desmond Richardson, a former principal with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, will create the role of Othello. In 1998 the ballet will be performed in San Francisco by the San Francisco Ballet.
Dancing by and With Juilliard's Seniors
An evening of dance, Nov. 23, 7:30-midnight, will benefit The Juilliard School's Senior Dancers. The evening begins with a cocktail hour and performances including ballet, modern, musical theatre, tap, and ballroom. It continues with social dancing, hosted by the seniors, who will be available for lessons and for partnering. Site: The Clark Studio Theater, Rose Building, 70 Lincoln Center Plaza, NYC. Tickets: $15. Information: (212) 799-5000, ext. 7044. q
The proceeds will help underwrite a future production by the seniors.
Garrard Presents Four NYC Premieres
The Mimi Garrard Dance Theatre performs Nov. 22-24. Featured are four new works that were premiered at the VIII New Dance International Festival in Lima, Peru, May 1996. "Exchange" and "Renderings," two repertory works, will also be presented. Site: the Garrard Loft in Soho, 155 Wooster St., near the corner of Houston St. Performances: Nov. 22-23, at 8 pm; Nov. 24, at 3 pm. Tickets: general admission, $12; students and senior citizens, $7. Reservations: (212) 674-6868.
New York Debut for Queensland Ballet
The Queensland Ballet makes its New York debut on Nov. 24, at 2 pm, at Brooklyn Center for the Performing Arts, Brooklyn College.
The program features the New York City premieres of "A Midsummer Night's Dream," choreographed by Harold Collins, and Rimsky-Korsakov's "Scheherazade," choreographed by Jacqui Carroll.
Site: Walt Whitman Theatre, Brooklyn Center for the Performing Arts. Tickets: $28 and $23; children, half-price; discounts for seniors, students, and groups. Call: (718) 951-4500. Discount parking is available in a secure lot near the Whitman