An injury to Anthony Dowell and Gelsey Kirkland's indisposition caused program and cast changes in American Ballet Theatre's Thursday performance at Kennedy Center. In the past, whenever a star could not appear, the company substitutee an experienced dancer of similar status. This time, there seemed to be a policy of giving a chance to almost everyone.
Johan Renvall a young Swede, danced for Dowell in "Shadow Play," an Antony Tudor ballet about spiritual enlightenment-or is it about coming to terms with one's animal body? Renvall had been learning the role for yesterday's performance, so his debut and that of the entire Friday cast was premature by a day. He's short, looks like Baryshnikov's kid brother, displays a high, easy jump and swift turns, and his characteristic movements have a strong, even flow. All the solo work was of high caliber, but for catching and launching Hilda Morales, as his female initiator, he needed at minimum another day's rehearsal.
Newly prominent Patrick Bissell substituted for Dowell in partnering ballerina Natalia Makarova, but it was in the "Don Quixote" pas de deux instead of in "Other Dances." She sparner yet lax about pointing the feet, used his ample size to generate dancing of great and gentle strength. Bissell's contribution was heroic, for it was also his debut here with the elecgantly articulated Lise Houlton in Glen Teltey's "Contredances." They lasted amazingly in this long, incessantly motile work.
Kristine Elliott and Michael Owen replaced Kirkland and John Meehan In Tudor's "The Leaves are Fading." It was a good performance for Elliott, a classically more contiained dancer than the tensile Kirkland, who had given a great rendering on Tuesday.
Expectations are that Dowell's injury, to a hip muscle, will keep him out for some time.