The epigraph to "La Perfectly Swell," on Saturday night's Les Ballets Jazz de Montreal program at Liner reads: "Today's movement, on today's dancers... Today," Odd, because the dance turns out to be pure Archie-and-Veronica, a comic-book picture of the '50s with some nice touches here and there, including a bouncy conclusion for five male dancers decked out in T-shirts printed to look like blazers. "Le Perfectly Swell" was perfectly cheerful, but it didn't hand together too well. And nothing in choreographer Rael Lamb's treatment of that overworked era brought any new perspective to what is by now received gospel on the subject, so the epigraph hardly seemed appropriate.
The other "new" offering, "The Gershwin Song Book," by choregorapher Norbert Vesak, never quite managed to capture the bluesy, smoke-filled aura it seemed to be groping for with so much action and so little invention.
But the miracle of the evening lay in the gallantry and skill of the 12 young and quite beautiful dancers whose efforts imbued these limp materials with surprising life. Olesia Cyncar displayed considerable physical charm and comic talent in the Gershwin piece, and Odette Lalonde and Denis Michaelson brought such ardor and conviction to their roles in Lynne Taylor's mopy, melodramaitc "Diary" that for moments one almost believed in their sorrows.