The final weekend of programs by American Ballet Theater for its three-week visit to Kennedy Center stressed - not untypically for this company - individual roles and performances.
It began with Natalia Makarova getting her first and only crack at "Giselle" during the just-concluded run. Her dancing was, as ever in this part, impeccably light and precise, and the restraint her acting showed in the first act - the mad scene seemed particularly toned down - was a decided asset. Still, Makarova is Makarova, always the femme fatale, and the way she plays to an audience puts too great a strain on one's ability to believe in Giselle's innoncence.
Ivan Nagy was a splendid Albrecht, Marcos Paredes a sympathetic Hilarion and Marianna Tcherkassky and John Prinz did especially well by the Peasant pas de deux. Martine van Hamel's Myrta, ordinary so imposing, was good but not special.
In the evening account of the same ballet, Gelsey Kirkland confirmed her earlier impression of restored m astery. The sense of emotional fragility she brings to therole is unparalled, and though this was not the most inspired Giselle we've seen her do, the dancing was still extraordinary - the arabesque turns of her second-act entrance were astonishing in the speed and intensity, for instance. Charles Ward was a commendable Albrecht, but Jolinda Menendez, though she's improving, hasn't taken the full measure of Myrta yet.
Martine van Hamel, in Sunday afternoon's "La Sylphide," didn't quite live up to advance reports. Her dancing was technically unassilable, the performance failed to attain the airy insubstantiality of the ideal sylph. Ivan Nagy, however, was in superb form as James, flitting through his presto beats and turns with wonderful stylistic authority.
In Twyla Tharp's "Push Comes to Shove" on the same program, Clark Tippet made his debut in the part choreographed expressly for Mikhail Baryshnikov. (Kirk Peterson, who's been doing it on tour, is ill). The audience loved Tippet; to my eyes, the role - never more than flashy fluff - lost most of its eccentric spark in the transfer.