The days of the male dancer were being observed in Washington this past week, not just at the Kennedy Center but also at the YWCA, where John Hearn starred in six of the seven works presented by the Arlington Ballet.
No, Hearn is not a Nureyev in the making, but as an amateur he's a phenomenon nevertheless.
He marshaled 14 women in "Complex Simplicity," a parade of classroom steps in tastefully basic combinations. He partnered, progressively, one woman, then two and finally four in "Adage de Deux Plus . . ." and danced in four taxing duets. All this he accomplished without sagging, becoming winded or even sweating excessively.
Short and solidly built, with a heroic chest, his strengths are turning and lifting. In the "Adage" piece he simultaneously held two women perfectly parallel to the ground, one tucked under his arm and the other hoisted to shoulder height. In two classics, the "Corsaire" and "Don Quixote" duos, he not only managed effortless arm-length lifts with Rebecca Yang, but in partnering this charming young dancer his phrasing was musical. In solos, he took off into the air with gusto although he landed without enough rebound. The major weaknesses in Hearn's dancing are insufficient turnout at the hips and stretch of the legs.
Hearn's stage presence is an asset. A closely cropped military haircut and a tattoo on the left biceps are not ostentatious (he is a security police sergeant at Andrews Air Force Base). This dancer's manners are modest yet virile.
The level of the Arlington Ballet's women ranged from student to professional apprentice. They are cleanly trained. Yang has a fine carriage and fresh lilt. The choreography for the new pieces as well as the arrangement of the Russian classics was by Elan Diehl Cooper. She works academically, in discrete units of movement, yet the results are fluent.