Reprinted from yesterday's late editions.
For its second night at the Kannedy Center, American Ballet Theater again gave us a mixed program (announced as a tribute to dancer Andre Eglevsky, who died this past Sunday), again with mixed but generally favorable results.
The evening began with a revival of Kenneth MacMillan's "Danses Concertantes," originally created for the Sadler's Wells company in 1955 and first stated for ABT in 1967. The music, in Stravingsky's most astringent neorococo manner, was written in 1942, using dance forms ("March," "pas d'acfion," etc.) but not with dance peformance in mind. George Balanchine choreographed it in 1944 for the Ballet Russe: the composer wasn't too happy with the results ("not among my Balanchine favorites," he wrote).
I saw a revised Balanchine version (1972) not long ago and found it minor but brilliant. The MacMillan is brilliant too, in its way, the more so when one thinks of it as the first professional work of a choreographer then 25 years old. The form is a series of abstract dances, eccentric in detail, like the music, but very logical in its unfolding. Flicking legs, crisp steps on point, abrupt stops and sharply cut angles in the limbs give it the same kind of dry wit the Stravinsky score abounds in.
On the other hand, the work strikes one as youthfully brash - a bit too unrelenting in its cleverness and little jokes, and too insistent in its musical paralles. The Nicholas Georgiadis costumes too, strike me as more unbecoming than apt.
In any case, the piece requires an absolute snapping precision in execution that was only sporadicalled achieved Wednesday. Jolinda Merendez and John Meehan, in their first try at the lead parts, had the right idea but not quite the control as yet. Rebecca Wright and George de la Pena managed their solos particularly well.
Highlights of the remainder of the program included Marianna Tcherkassky's polished bravura in her first ABT "Corsaire," superbly partnered by Fernando Bujones; Gelsey Kirkland's moments of poetic radiance in "The Leaves of Fading," despite and nasty spill and generally uneven ensemble work, and Leslie Browne's expressive intensity as the secondary lead in a repeat performance of "Voluntaries."