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American Repertory Ballet

Self-presented at the Joyce Theater, 175 Eighth Ave., NYC, May 8-13.

What hath God wrought on American Repertory Ballet? A new director? Impossible choice of choreographers? Unappealing dancers? Did Septieme Webre have a premonition that the demise of his company, one he had carefully nourished to first-class status, was about to occur, and so he better flee to Washington? No, Webre made his decision free and clear, and the fruits of director Graham Lustig were on view at the Joyce Theater. The disappointment was immeasurable.

Three pieces were presented in Program A. The first, "—a part between parts—" by Canadian Dominique Dumais, tried too hard to be different and ended up being full of awkward transitions between phrases. There were so many unexpected, unmotivated, quirky changes (a deep plié in fifth position, then suddenly the heel lift) that the flow of movement soon had all too little flow.

And why is it choreographers feel pressed to put together a montage of composers—Handel, Monteverdi, von Biber—instead of one lovely piece of music? In this case, one piece would have been extremely helpful. Finally, the tasteful Dumais cannot have possibly okayed the frightful costumes—chiffon skirts for the men and unappealing cut-off shorts for the women, who all looked as if they had been training hard at the local gym instead of at the barre.

Still, if one were giving out booby prizes, they would have to go to the middle piece, "Silkscreens." This piece was inexcusable; a more appropriate title would be "Um." As if Andy Warhol's voice spouting nonsense about worldly emotions were not enough, we had segments of dancing Marilyn Monroes and Elvises. It was painful to see the lovely Mary Barton (once a touching Juliet) being hoisted about in a Jackie O. wig and an ugly green dress, unhappily looking for an escape hatch from this sinking ship.

Rounding things out was the never-ending finale, "Lambarena," set to a melting pot of African songs and tunes by J.S. Bach. This proved an oil and water mix, but it was nice to see a valiant Douglas Martin, looking well and giving it the old college try.

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