It took the bracing tricky capers of Choo San Goh's "Octet Plus Four" to give a needed lift to the Washington Ballet program at Lisner Auditorium yesterday.
The more one sees of the work of Choo, the troupe's 29-year-old resident choreographer, the firmer the conviction that here is a sizable, fecund creative talent enroute to maturity. "Ohtet Plus Fourt," set to an allegro movement from a Prokofiev concerto, has been staged herer before, but it gets better looking every time. It's a brisk, intricately patterned, abstract piece for 12 dancers that is brightly imaginative both in its details and in cumulative shape.
The speed and sassiness of the ballet remind one somewhat of Jerome Robbins. Other points of distinction are the clever exists and entrances, and th deft shuffling of groups.
Choo's talents seemed all the more conspicuous against the rest of the program. "Tapestries," receiving its premiere, attempts to evoke the graceful social imagery of Renaissance artists, but it succeedsonly in looking vacuously pretty. As cheoreographed by Salvatore Aiello (of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet), the steps don't add up to more than a pallid vixual echo of musical rhythms. The music, by the way - period dances played by the admirably unstuffy Nymphs and Satyrs ensemble - was the best part. The sprightly articulated legwork of Brian Jameson was a highlight of the dancing.
Louis Johnson's "Wing Suite" shows rather mor choreographic flair on a moment to moment basis, but the work as a whole seems almost shapeless.
Inevitably, the company looked its best in "Octet Plus Four," where the choreography offered something to work with. The challenging Pas de Deux from August Bournonville's. "Flower Festival at Genzano" gave Patricia Miller a chance to display her continuing technical progress as well as her cleanly etched classical line. Neither she nor her very capable partner, guest artist Kevin McKenzie of the Joffrey Ballet, were quite up to the stylistic demands of the excerpt, however.
The continuing runof "A Midsummer Night's Dream" made one all the sorrier to see the New York City Ballet depart from Kennedy Center after this weekend. Thursday night's performance was just about ideal, abetted asit was by Robert Weiss' dazzling elevation and beats as Oberon. Nichol Hlinka's bewitching Butterfly and Kyra Nichols impressive Hippolyta.
Suzanne Farrell and Peter Martins, looking more secure than the previous night, were more captivating than ever as the Divertissement couple. Patricia McBride and Helgi Tomasson brought a sharper, cooler inflection to those same roles Saturday afternoon, in a performance also notable for the contributions of Catherine Morris as Helena and Laurence Matthews as Bottom.