To see "The Greatest," Arthur Mitchell's duet of modern middle-class romance, danced with barely a pause before the proud old "Don Quixote" pas de deux is proof that ballet technique is far from static. Dance Theatre of Harlem, which paired the two pieces on its new program at the Warner Theatre last night, is currently making a contribution to the evolution of ballet. Choreography, though, isn't its strong point.
Mitchell's duet is slick compared with the work of older champions of domesticity, such as Bournonville. It serves, however, to display his achievement as company director, and that of his colleague Karel Shook: the creation of a new breed of classical dancer.
Dance Theatre of Harlem's women are lanky and taut. Their heads are held very high, and they step very high, too. The men tend to be tall and muscular without bulk. All the dancers move so sharply and clearly that they sacrifice pliancy and spaciousness to vigor. But it is so invigorating to watch them dance that what is lost may be worth it.
This definite style leaves room for individuality. Lydia Abarca and Joseph Wyatt, as the Liebestod riders in William Dollar's "The Combat," placed a dignified retard on the intensity of the DTH style. Ronald Perry, in the "Don Q" with Elena Carter and with Karen Brown in the duet of Geoffrey Holder's "Dougla," combined a demonic streak with elegance.
"Dougla," a handsomely produced African folk suite with swiveling hips, thrusting torsos, wagging fingers and fluttering hands, was given a grandeur by the performers that provided a strong finish for this third DTH program, which began weakly with William Scott's mildly jazzy "Every Now and Then."