Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) was incorrectly identified in a story about the Joffrey Ballet Gala in Thursday's Style section.
Most ballet galas consist of fireworks pas de deux which, exciting in isolation, tend to wear thin when strewn end-to-end. The Joffrey Ballet chose to celebrate its 25th Anniversary, Washington version, in a more quiet way. Last night's program at the Kennedy Center Opera House was composed of four works that well represent the company's repertory. Two were significant revivals of landmark ballets; two, works choreographed by the company's director and resident choreographer.
Robert Joffrey's "Postcards" is a nonspecifically nostalgic work to assorted compositions of Erik Satie. The ballet would be better if there were less of it, but the choreography, particularly for the men, is interesting and stretches the dancers' classical technique. The Joffrey men are not super technicians, but neither are they cheats. They don't try to show off at the expense of artistry.
Robert Joffrey choreographs infrequently; Gerald Arpino is much more prolific, and his works form the core of the company's contemporary repertory. His "Secret Dances," a bland and dewy pas de deux to the Mozart Piano Concerto which served as the soundtrack for "Elvira Madigan," was smoothly danced by Patricia Miller and James Canfield, both former members of the Washington Ballet.
The two revivals, one a half-century, the other more than a century old, were the most vital works. Arthur Saint-Leon's pas de six from "La Vivandiere" is a 19th-century showpiece of calculating sophistication that manages, at the same time, to be adorable. It's a bouncing and bubbly work with devilishly difficult steps. Ann Marie De Angelo danced the ballerina role with more force than delicacy. The very young Julian Montaner in the leading male role not only looked the part of a French cavalier, but danced with greater technical security than he had shown at Wolf Trap last summer. He's learned to make an entrance and he danced with flair.
Kurt Jooss' "The Green Table," a self-styled "Danse Macabre" and one of the most powerful antiwar statements ever made, received a convincing performance. One wonders whether it has ever been danced before an incumbent world leader and members of his Cabinet. Joffrey revivals are seldom moribund "museum pieces" that give only a vague idea of what effect a work might have once had. "The Green Table," with its grotesque diplomats politely planning the destruction of their countries, its Death figure, bathed in a ghastly green light, its patriots and victims, still lives. And it's revivals like this, more than the hip ballets and the pop ballets, which keep the Joffrey young as it enters its 26th year.