"The bal-yet will go on as shed-uled," says George S. Irving, playing the role of the director of The Russian Ballet in the Kennedy Center's production of "On Your Toes." Yesterday afternoon, the Rodgers and Hart musical, with its big ballet numbers and abundance of other dances, went on as scheduled, too, despite the absence of Natalia Makarova in the starring role of Vera Baronova, the Russian ballerina.
An announcement and insert in the program stated merely that Starr Danias would play the part "at this performance" and that the role of Lola, "usually played by Starr Danias, will be played by Mary C. Robare." There was no mention of the on-stage accident that injured Makarova at Saturday night's performance, and some in the audience undoubtedly were unaware of the unfortunate circumstances that had thrust Danias into the leading role for the first time.
Danias is hardly an unknown. She has been in musicals, on television, in the Joffrey Ballet as a principal dancer, and, on film, played the part of a bitchy young ballerina in "The Turning Point." At yesterday's matinee, she performed the Baronova role in a different way than Makarova, with no telltale signs of inexperience.
Danias' Russian ballerina had a baby-doll surface, yet underneath she was hard as brass tacks. In the instability and intrigues of the e'migre' Ballet Russe, this character was without question a survivor. In her first two dance numbers, Donald Saddler's swirling bedroom pas de deux with Lara Teeter as Junior and Peter Martins' "Princess Zenobia Ballet" with George de la Pen a as the Beggar, Danias didn't revel in the sensuality of movement but, with her brittle attack, stressed the mock aspects of the choreography. Danias ignited in the final ballet, George Balanchine's "Slaughter on Tenth Avenue." The continuous increments of tension that give Balanchine works their dynamic excitement were well within her technical grasp, and the adagio with Teeter looked like real choreography beneath its "low class" guise.
Robare projected character into her few lines as Lola, and danced sweetly with Alexander Filipov as the leading ballet couple in the title number, the "On Your Toes Revue."