Nearly half the dancers of the Eliot Feld Ballet, seen in a second program at Wolf Trap Saturday night, are relative newcomers to the company. Yet the troupe appears to be dancing with a stylistic coherence and technical veneer unmatched in its past.
The program repeated the new "A Footstep of Air" from Friday night and prefaced it with "The Real McCoy" and "A Soldier's Tale," and all three were impeccably performed.It's true, the core of the outfit still consists of "old" Feld regulars, including Feld himself, Christine Sarry, George Montalbano, Jeff Satinoff, Edmund La Fosse and one or two others. But the distinctiveness of the Feld manner permeates the troupe from top to bottom.
Some of that distinctiveness comes from the constants of Feld's choreography. In addition to using such signature traits as flamboyant lifts, recurring falls or flexings, and witty acrobatics, Feld also often seems to devise ballets that are personalized, vest pocket versions of notable works by other choreographers, the way "The Real McCoy" refers to Balanchine's "Who Cares?," and A Footstep of Air" to "Union Jack."
"A Soldiers Tale," superbly danced Saturday night by Feld as the Pimp, La Fosse as the Soldier, and Michael's Hughes and Mona Elgh as the Whores, evokes a number of precedents. The ballet's whole allegorical conception, as well as its antimilitarism, calls up Kurt Jooss' "The Green Talbe," and the deviously slinking Pimp is a strong reminder of Jooss' war profiteers. The lasciviously preening Whores bring to mind their counterparts in Herbert Ross' Goya-based "Caprichos." And the Soldier - patforlorn innocent, part puppet of destiny - has much in common with Fokine's "Petrushka," including a crucifiction pose at the close of a key scene.
Nevertheless, Feld's borrowings never smack of plagiarism because he converts them into something so completely his own. That's one clue, among many, as to why he remains one of the most interesting choreographers around.