A spirited performance of the Pas de Dix from Petipa's "Raymonda" capped an evening of strong dancing by the soloists of the Houston Ballet at Carter Barron last night. With the exception of some ragged finishes in the men's pas de quatre, the 10 Houston dancers showed themselves to be a solid classical troupe. In Janie Parker (who had earlier danced a confident and individual "White Swam pas de deux"), the company has a ballerina with sparkling technique and tasteful, musical style.
The hit of the evening was the world premiere of Ben Stevenson's "Britten Pas de Deux," a showpiece with dangerous lifts where the man gets to play catch with the ballerina and a series of circusy "turns" where the dancers try to outdo each other in performing technical feats. Both Suzanne Longley and Kenneth McCombie danced with assurance and panache in a ballet whose only purpose is to stop the show.
The most substantial work on the program was Rudi van Dantzig's "Ramifications," which treats its theme of death and mourning and peace with moving simplicity. The work was given a compelling performance by all the dancers, and particularly by William Pizzuto in the central role.