Reprinted from yesterday's late editions.
Last night ushered in both a beginning and a return in the evolution of dance in Washington. The first of three performances by the Pennsylvania Ballet was the first appearance in this area of one of the nation's leading classical ballet troupes. And the site is the Carter Barron Amphitheater, which long served as the capital's major summer dance facility and is now seeing the reintroduction of ballet after an eight-year interruption.
The local debut of the Pennsylvania Ballet is long overdue. The public television series, "Dance in America," selected the troupe as the subject for one of its shows, to demonstrate the potential for high standards in classical ballet within a company not based in New York City. Through transcontinental tours that have taken the troupe to 35 states and Canada, as wwell as annual New York seasons at the Brroklyn Academy of Music, the Pennsylvania Ballet has amassed a strong partisan following across the country. At Clevelan's Blossom Festival, just prior to the current Washington engagement, the company danced to an enthusiastic nightly audience of 5,000.
The troupe was founded in 1964 by Barbara Weshberger, who afer years of prepatory endeavor has nursed it along to eminence. A pupil and friend of George Balanchine, she won the choreographer's early endorsement. With his encouragement, the newly formed company became one of the Ford Foundation's principal beneficiaries in its ambitious program to stimulate resident ballet, begun in 1963. Balanchine also helped buttress the company repertoire, particularly in its fledging period, with permission to perform a number of his own works, including "Symphony in C," "Concerto Barocco," "Four Temperaments" and others.
The performances, also at 8:30 tonight and Sunday, are accompanied by the troupe's own Pennsylvania Orchestra, conducted by Maurice Kaplow.
The Carter Barron itself has an illustrious dance history, dating back to the early years of the facility in the 1950s. American Ballet Theater's present production of "Swan Lake," mounted by the late David Blair of the Royal Ballet in 1967, had its world premiere at the Carter Barron. The not since appeared in Washington, National Ballet of Canada, which has performed there regularly on its American tours, presenting such things as Erik Bruhn's Oedipal version of "Swan Lake" and John Cranko's "Romeo and Juliet." Such dance notables as Alicia Alonso, Igor Youskevitch, Nora Kaye, Frederic Franklin, Roland Petit, Jose Greco, Carmen Amaya, Carla Fracci, Marian Tallchief and Pealr Primus were among those on Carter Barron programs in palmier days.
This summer a special effort is being made to lure dance fans back, with engagements by the Pennsylvania troupe and the Dance Theater of Harlem. Tickets prices are reasonable, parking is free, and the ambiance is one of trees, open skies and stars.