The Capitol Ballet's recent restructuring and revitalization efforts are paying off. The company's weekend program at Lisner, its first in this downtown showcase since the arrival last fall of Keith Lee as assistant artistic director, showed palpable advance over the impressive "works in progress" performance at the Washington Project for the Arts last December, and in a setting far more conducive to ballet theatrics.
Walter Raines' new "Connotations: Brazil," with a percussion score, looked stodgily schematic in its mixture of classical and Latin material. But Lee's contrasting "Seacoast Sketches" and "Nearer to Thee," in their newly polished and expanded versions, emerged as vivid, imaginative and often affecting ballets. "Nearer to Thee" has perhaps one too many solos, and the finale is neither big nor conclusive enough for the rest of the work. The new "Moonlight" pas de deux in "Seacoast Sketches," on the other hand, is both a splendid lyrical addition and an effective structural pivot.
Ballerina Sandra Fortune has never looked more confident or persuasive than she did throughout this program, and together with her, such dancers as Leroy Cowan, April Berry, Gregory Hinton, Loris Beckles and others have given the Capitol Ballet a whole new look of aptitude, professional rigor, and charm.