Classroom ballets can serve as a good introduction to a dance company. Robert Rodman's "The Class -- set to the second and third movements of Tchaikovsky's "Winter Dreams" symphony -- which opened this weekend, varied the usual formula of barre work progessing to virtuoso display by interspersing dream sequences showing how classroom exercises are transformed into stage art.
The performance of Sir Frederick Ashton's "Monotomes" showed that there are technical lessons yet to be learned. This beautiful, delicate ballet must be danced with a fluid seamlessness. Maryland Ballet's abrupt phrasing, insecure balances and occasionally over-emphatic gestures (the too on-the-beat nods of the heads in the second pas de trois, for example) had the direct of reciting Keats with a stammer.
Technical insecurity also marred Clark Tippet's partnering in his company debut. With both Debra Van Cure in Kenneth MacMillan's "Romaneo and Juliet" pas de deux and Reva Pincusoff in Rhodham "Mignoh Pas De Deux," Tippet exhibited a more relaxed stage presence, but shakier support, than one remember from his ABT appearances. Van Curo was an appropriately demure Juliet and both Tippet and Pincusoff danced their solos in the Mignon cleanly.
Ironically, the company looked its best in the negligible "Sun Dances" of Lambros Lambrou. Apparently a ritual of dancers in a sunny clime, the slinky but sexless, eminently biodegradable choreography was enlivened by the dancers' energetic performance.