The Washington Ballet always looks its best in Choo San Goh's choreography, and Thursday night, the tawdry "Handel Celebration" and tired "Le Combat" behind them, the company came into its own in Goh's "Fives." Goh's main strength as a choreographer is his ability to create works that suit his dancers' abilities, make them look a little better than they really are and allow room for them to grow in a work without outgrowing it. "Fives," created for the Washington Ballet nearly four years ago, is no longer a technical challenge for the dancers, and now that they're at home with its speed, they can dance it for fun.
When the work was first performed, there was an angry look about it, as though the 10 women were in a life-or-death competition for the five men. The anger has mellowed, and Julie Miles and Janet Shibata are genial flirts rather than predators in their brief solos. The unison dancing of the men, particularly in the final movement, was superb.
In the only performance this season of Goh's "Double Contrasts," at Saturday's matinee, Bonnie Moore and Brian Jameson as the couple in white and Shibata and John Goding as the couple in black led the small ensemble in a performance that was as effervescent as Poulenc's score. The same afternoon, in "A Handel Celebration," Alejandra Bronfman did as well as possible with a solo that didn't suit her. Miles made Vicente Nebrada's choreography look grand; newcomer Hoon Sook Pak performed an even greater feat by making it look classical.