American Ballet Theater came to town last Tuesday, but its final five performances, this weekend, deserve special mention.
Anybody who loved "West Side Story" will delight in the gritty, jazzed-up "N.Y. Export: Opus Jazz" Friday and Saturday evening. Master choreographer Jerome Robbins created this dance in 1958, just after he'd crafted those magnificently stylized confrontations between the Jets and the Sharks. The tensions and energies in the "West Side Story" numbers found their way into this less known ballet as well. Set to a hot-jazz score by Robert Prince, "Opus Jazz" speaks of youth steeped in an urban environment, of a need to push and grapple and move with the pack. This new production, headed by the sultry duo of Susan Jaffe and Robert La Fosse, retains Ben Shahn's original, TV-antenna-strewn backdrop, and the Shahn and Florence Klotz' costumes -- the ever-so-hip sneakers, black tights and wild-hued tops.
Twyla Tharp's "Push Comes to Shove" is one of the slyest, funniest, most virtuosic ballets in the ABT repertoire. A deranged but perceptive send-up of the big, beautiful, prima donna-filled, problem-ridden American company, "Push" features a trio of madly competitive soloists, a meticulously sloppy corps and a strange group of elegantly attired characters who seem to have sprung from any number of beloved story ballets. Probably the most amazing section of this work is a solo fashioned originally for Mikhail Baryshnikov -- he'll perform it Saturday afternoon, and Danilo Radojevic will do it Sunday afternoon -- that seamlessly blends the charismatic Russian's mind-blowing jumps and spins with throwaway gestures, disco steps, stops and starts.
Fans of ballerina Gelsey Kirkland can catch her Saturday evening as she makes her debut in Lynne Taylor-Corbett's "Great Galloping Gottschalk." Balanchine devotees still have one chance -- Friday evening -- to experience the rare revival of his "Symphonie Concertante." Saturday afternoon and Sunday evening, Merce Cunningham loyalists can compare a ballet company's version of his "Duets" with the original modern-dance interpretation. AMERICAN BALLET THEATER -- This Friday at 8, Saturday at 2 and 8, Sunday at 1:30 and 7:30, Kennedy Center Opera House. Tickets $15 to $29.50. For details call 254-3770.