This year we've had a bumper crop of pregnancy ballets. There are now at least two. That's a lot considering that the subject, if not quite taboo, was for many years deemed to be inappropriate for dance expression.
In "El Guije," the Cuban ballet by Alberto Alonso that had its local premiere at the Kennedy Center last night, a woman fondles her bulging belly to show the responsible party, and the public, what's happened. The heroine of Antony Tudor's"Tiller in the Fields" made almost the same motions during American Ballet Theatre's engagements here earlier in the season. Neither choreographer was able to put point across subtly.
Tudor, realizing there was no escaping the obvious, used the "I'm pregnant" gesture as a wry punch line. One could almost see quotation marks around the motion. Alonso uses it straight and it isn't the only blatant thing in his ballet.
"El Guije" is the story of the pregnant woman's murder by her lover, and of the water spirits that avenge her. The step Alonso favors for most of the characters is the pirouette. There are a few other steps, and the spirits crouch, but consecutive dancing is solely missing. The plot is blared out in words as well as in actions.
Brian MacDonald's "Time out of Mind," a rite of spring to Paul Creston music, at least provided the dancers with badly needed practice in continuous motion. The choreographic idea is clever - ballet steps and popular dance steps are blended into an athleticism that makes this mating dance seem both primitive and modern. Caridad Martinez, Lazaro Carreno and the entire cast poured themselves into the tumult unstintingly.
With "Grand Pas de Quatre" also on the program, the evening's real event was Alicia Alonso's fine form for two pas de deux with that strong partner, Jorge Esquivel. In the White Swan adagio from "Swan Lake" and especially in the heroic frieze duet from "Spartacus" as stated by Azari Plisetski, there was an ease in her dancing that has been missing much of this season.