Reprinted from yesterday's late editions.
Thursday night American Ballet Theater brought to the Kennedy Center the first mixed repertory program of its current series. The occasion also marked the welcome return of ballerina Gelsey Kirkland, whose long indisposition has kept her out of view in Washington for quite a spell.
It was, however, a strange evening. Each of the four ballets looked somewhat out of kilter, for one reason or another. In the case of Antony Tudor's "Jardin aux Lilas" and Agnes de Mille's Rodeo," perhaps what we were seeing was a jarring passage of generations.
As ballets like these two, dating from the late '30s and early '40s, recede from their origins, they ievitably lose some of the idiomatic purity which made them modern "classics" in the first place. If these works are to have any future at all, younger dancers must move into them and make them their own. The time may possibly come, as it always has in the past, when some of today's novices will be regarded as model interpreters for this repertoire. But the transitions can be awkward. The old stylistic cohesion is dissipated, and a new, more "contemporary" rationale, has yet to be forged.
This seemed to be the state of affairs with "Jardin" Thursday night. The men, John Prinz and Gayle Young, who are older hands at it, were splendid. And Kirkland's Caroline had a lovely, somber fluency. But her characterization seemed too melodramatic, too stagey. Tudor's heroines must have a reticence about them. Emotions break through only as tremors on a tautly repressed surface.
"Rodeo" was even more out of key, Susan Jones, the corps de ballet dancer who was the tomboyish Cowgirl, is not miscast. She's physically right for the part, and she gets into the wit of it. Still, the role hasn't quite crystalized for her, and it's a bit too giddily burlesqued at the moment. And except for Terry Orr as the Roper and Marcos Paredes as the Wrangler, the rest of the cast looks like they don't understand why the movement is shaped just that way - they're going through the motions, but have lost the stylistic motivation. The movement, as a result, lacks clarity and edge.
The trouble with Glen Tetley's "Gemini" and the "Rose" Adagio from "Sleeping Beauty" was not the dancing. A foursome led by Martine van Hamel in the former and Cynthia Gregory in the latter danced beautifully. But the Tetley piece is an aimlessly electic bore, and the "Rose" Adagio has no business being treated like a bravura potboiler, severed from its proper dramatic context.