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International Ballet Gala

Valentine's Day, Feb. 14, saw a ballet gala featuring "Stars of the 21st Century," at the New York State Theater. As with other productions of this sort, consisting mainly of pas de deux, the balletic fireworks were sufficient to fill several programs. Rest assured, there never can be enough of these highlights to satisfy ardent balletomanes. And were they ever out in full force! Well, they received more than their money's worth.

Commencing with Susan Jaffe of American Ballet Theatre and Charles Askegard of New York City Ballet in The Sleeping Beauty pas de deux, the evening was off to a memorable start. The Apollo pas de deux, excerpted from one of Balanchine's most poetic creations, was later performed by the team with gently soothing lyricism.

The Spartacus "pas," with Anna Antonicheva and Yuri Klevtsov of the Bolshoi Ballet, immediately set off the fireworks, featuring ballon as well as thrilling love scenes. In the second half of the program this extraordinarily handsome pair performed the Diana and Acteon pas de deux with heightened bravura.

A solo called Diva, performed by Marie Agn's Gillot, premiere danseuse of the Paris Op ra Ballet, was accompanied by the recorded voice of Maria Callas in her prime, singing an aria from the opera Andrea Ch nier. Perhaps intended to indicate the untimely end of the late acclaimed singer, the solo, with its turgid choreography by Carolyn Carlson and its intense suffering, seemed out of place. Mlle. Gillot was eventually honored by being allotted the concluding spot on the program. The exciting Don Quixote pas, partnered by ABT's Marcelo Gomes, more than made up for the solo.

The only other dancer given a solo spot was Gennadi Saveliev from American Ballet Theatre, who set the stage ablazing with his Ukranian Gopak. He brought back vivid memories of the wonderful Moiseyev Folk Dance Ensemble.

For sheer versatility anyone would have had a difficult time matching Agn's Letestu and Jos Martinez of the Paris Op ra Ballet-performing La Esmeralda pas de deux by Petipa and William Forsythe's "In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated" pas de deux. The pair performed the classic Petipa ballet and the exceptionally difficult contemporary Forsythe work with facility that indicated a mastery of both forms. "In the Middle," in particular, accompanied by a bombastic Thom Willems score, was one of those twisters, which left us marveling that both dancers remained upright despite the entanglements encountered. One wrong move could easily have thrown them off balance and sent them sprawling.

The Royal Ballet's Darcey Bussell and the Kirov's Igor Zelensky were an endearing couple in the Petipa Le Corsaire pas de deux and the "Bedroom" pas de deux from Manon, by Sir Kenneth MacMillan. Brilliant technicians, both performed Le Corsaire with lan to spare, and in the Manon pas exhibited equal degrees of passion and tenderness.

San Francisco Ballet's principals Lucia Lacarra and Cyril Pierre were the pair that I found the most coruscating of all, in the "White Swan" pas de deux from Swan Lake and the "Adagio for Strings" pas de deux-the latter to the score by Samuel Barber. Lacarra, in particular, galvanized with a rare combination of complete absorption in characterization and spiritual radiance that penetrated heart and mind.

The program, which lasted close to three hours, concluded with D fil Final, staged by the gala's artistic director, Nadia Veselova-Tencer, in which each dancer bounded across stage with the force of streaked lightning, exhibiting excerpts from his/her own specialties.

Gillis Times Six at the Joyce

Margie Gillis returns to The Joyce Theater in six new dances, five of which she has choreographed. We are told that "these will reveal a quieter, more meditative side of the artist, renowned for her exuberant physicality and emotional power." Among the highlights are "Voyage," a 25-minute solo that explores the multiple meanings and means of travel: emotional, spiritual, and artistic. Local premieres are "Blue," and "George," which offers a tender and sly look at the small cruelties men inflict on women. Also included are "Loon," "Meditation," and Irene Dowd's "Thrall."

Performances: March 14-19-Tuesday through Saturday, 8 pm; Sunday, 2 pm and 7:30 pm. Venue: The Joyce Theater, 175 Eighth Ave., NYC. Tickets: $32; call JoyceCharge (212) 242-0800.

Truthful Choreographers

Celebrating Women's History Month is "Speaking in Truth," featuring the works of five African-American female choreographers: Alexandria Bangoura, Hope Boykin, Kerri Edge, Jamie J. Philbert, and Laila Sibongile Sales. Roger C. Jeffrey directs this presentation of subtle changes. The young dancemakers' training and performing credits include The Juilliard School, Philadanco, Bernice Johnson Dance Company, Rob Brown/Evidence, and Bill T. Jones Company.

Performances: Fri. and Sat., March 17 and 18, at 8 pm. Tickets: $18; students and seniors, $10. Venue: Theatre of the Riverside Church, 91 Claremont Ave., NYC. Reservations: (718) 481-6773, ext. 2. q

Ballet Tech in Spring Season at The Joyce

Eliot Feld's Ballet Tech and Kids Dance will mount their annual five-week Spring Season at The Joyce Theater, March 21-April 23.

Damian Woetzel, principal dancer with New York City Ballet, guests with the company in "Mending," a duet that shows Eliot Feld at his most daring. Matinee performances feature Kids Dance, and Sundays at 4 pm combine that young group with Ballet Tech.

The season will see two world premieres by Feld: "nodrog doggo," a dance for seven men set to music by Michael Gordon; and "Coup de Couperin," a company work to music by Fran‡ois Couperin.

Performances: Tuesdays-Fridays, 8 pm; Saturdays, 2 pm and 8 pm; Sundays, 12 noon and 4 pm. Tickets: $35; Kids Dance-$25 for adults; $15 for children under 12. Reservations: JoyceCharge (212) 242-0800. q

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