"A Soldier's Tale," which the Feld Ballet added to the repertory of its debut season at Kennedy Center on Friday and danced again at the closing performance last night, has but a trace of the rambling folk fable Igor Stravinsky had in mind when he composed the tart fiddling and syncopated rhythms of the musical score. This story of seduction, exploitation and death -- as Eliot Feld sees it -- is rife with all the devices of German expressionism. Georg Grosz, the illustrator, might have conceived the grotesque or pitiful caricatures of human types that people the stage. Bertolt Brecht's equation of capitalism, conflict and corpses is stated. And Kurt Jooss' "Green Table" serves as the dance archetype behind Feld's exercise in style.
Holding the mirror up to art doesn't, in this instance, mean that there is none of the vitality of life. It bursts to the surface in the tickle pas de trois in which Jeff Satinoff, as the naive but narcissistic soldier, is seduced by two whores. In the other scenes, which succeed each other like fast film clips, Feld cleverly shapes and varies his movement themes -- the slinking of the exploiting whores and the pimp, and the abruptness of the exploited soldiers. In the trio, he does more. New movement and a richer, new meaning develop. Three individuals break through the cocoons of the character types.
Such leaps from the skillful to the inventive didn't occur in last night's other ballets, the mock patriotic "Half Time" and pastiche-romantic "Papillon." But, at the end of its brief season, the "little" Feld Ballet was dancing with a brusque vigor and scope that filled the Opera House's spaces.