Fresh as a grape on the vine, yet with vintage flavor, Jean-Pierre Bonnefous' new choreography for Eduard Lalo's lilting "Namouna" provided the principal pleasure of the Baltimore Ballet's weekend program at Goucher College in Towson. "Namouna's" vocabulary of filigree footwork has gentility, but also country bounce. It is reminiscent of what we know as Bournonville style, but a touch grander. This is what Parisian dancing may have looked like a century ago. Except the women's arms. These are not as spiky as in Balanchine's choreography, but they do have his verve.
The men entering in a phalanx, with arms proudly outstretched and wide-sleeved blouses flaring like flags, are reminiscent of Serge Lifar's choreography. Bonnefour hasn't created anything astonishingly new. But he has made a type of work that is in short supply today. Too few choreographers can interweave traditions with skill, display classroom steps in novel and deft combinations and know how to use entrances and exits with musical wit.
The other world premiere, Alfonso Cata's "Adagio," exemplified the problem of trying to pin a dramatic idea on the thundering tides of an oceanic body of music -- the first movement of Mahler's Symphony 10. The dozen false endings are fatal for the work. Problems in development, more than conception, also affected Cata's Latin American "Triptico."
The company looked best in John Clifford's easy, likably sleazy "Charleston." Bonnefous' technical challenge wasn't fully met by the Baltimoreans.