A new troupe called Vzorov's Rhythm Ballet, numbering eight dancers and based in Bethesda, made its first Washington appearance at Georgetown's Trinity Theatre last night, in a program so full of anomalies it was hard to know exactly what to make of it. The group doesn't lack for partisans-the audience (about 125 at a guess) gave the performers a strongly enthusiastic and vociferous welcome.
The troupe is led by Yuli Vzorov, who also choreographed the four balets of last night's program. Vzorov-and his wife, also a dancer, emigrated from the Soviet Union in 1975 and set up a ballet school here. Both had danced with the Moiseyev Dance Company, and Yuli Vzorov directed a troupe of his own in russia for nearly a decade.
Even in russia, Vzorov had a yen for American music, particularly show scores and jazz. Two of last night's ballets were set to Gershwin; the others used Ravel ("Bolero") and Bizet's "Carmen" as arranged by Rodion Schedrin.
All four works exhibited a sort of raw histrionic flair, and a penchant for melodrama. The dancers seemed possessed of much athletic prowess, and some basic dance skills. But the choreography was such an oddly undigested mixture of classical steps, gymnastic lifts and entwinnings a lathe Bolshoi (Vzorov's training ground), and a kind of generalized cabaret idiom, that the main impression of the evening was one of artistic naivete.
A secodary impression was the static quality of the dancing. Each work began with a frozen arrangement of figures, and proceeded in stop-go-stop fashions, bereft of any sense of flow. Despite the name of the troupe, its rhythmic profile was singularly amorphous.
Even "Grande (sic) Pas" to the pulsing "Bolero" moved from pose to arrested pose. In "Porgy and Bess," an impressionistic rendering for three dancers set to an instrumental medley, Bess did little more than strike slinky postures or grind her hips, when she wasn't being slung around by the two men in glaringly awkward configurations. "Spectre of Carmen," to Schedrin's kitschy corruption of Bizet, was the same story. One could perceive some kind of vital spark behind all this crudity, but it would take a lot of cleansing air to nurse it into flame.