Being a small-town ballet company has its benefits and drawbacks. Use of the civic name and the community theater lend official dignity to the enterprise but also create greater expectations than those associated with a school group performing in a studio. The McLean Ballet, which presented its winter program at the theater of the McLean Community Center this weekend, for the most part offered dancing and choreography of student/amateur caliber -- nothing to jeer at, nothing to shout about. What might, though, stir a bit of local pride and outside interest were the chances it gave three professionals to be seen in unusual contexts.

Christie Piper is an ice dancer of gold medal stature. In "Patinage," a film of her spacious, fluid gliding was run against the staccato pointe work of nine women on stage. The idea was good. An acute comparison of ballet and figure skating is long overdue. Unfortunately, the choreography in this instance wasn't up to the task and only one of the ensemble, guest artist Esperanza Alzona, showed balletic carriage of a quality comparable to Piper's form.

Dale Crittenberger, a modern dancer of strength and finesse, and Jennifer Vick, a jazz dancer with a punchy high kick, supple back and giggling shoulders, tested themselves in a balletic pas de deux. Crittenberger had charm, energy to spare, and good elevation. Vick should have let herself go, as she did in a jazz solo by Rhett Dennis.