American Ballet Theatre's version of Jose Limon's modern dance classic "The Moor's Pavane" may be an impure, balleticized one, but it's still an effective piece of theater. Last night at the Opera House, Alexander Godunov danced the role of the Moore for the first time locally.
His Othello was a gentle brute, a warrior king naive in love and almost unaware of his own physical strength. He resisted his Friend's (Kevin McKenzie's) evil gosspip until the "smoking gun" of Desdemona's supposed infidelity was produced in the form of a hankerchief, then slashed the stage with powerful strides and committed the vicious murder as if he hardly realized what he was doing.
McKenzie was determinedly vengeful and totally unrepentent; Martime Van Hamel (as the Friend's Wife) a seductively playful pawn in the two men's power struggle; and Cynthia Gregory's sweet, bewildered Wife was in sharp contrast to her icily evil performance earlier in the evening as the Siren in Balanchine's "Prodigal Son."
The excessively long intermission which preceded Baryshnikov's staging of divertissements from Marius Petipa's "Raymonda" made its actual performance anticlimactic. Magali Messac, making her company debut in the title role, has the warmth and graciousness, if not the weight, of an ideal Raymonda. Both the women's and men's Pas de Quatre were plagued by bad timing, but the corps and soloists in the two character dances performed with the requisite spirit.