At a time when major ballet companies lament the lack of good, classical choreography, Goucher College is the laboratory that could supply it. For the past two years Goucher has sponsored a residency by Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux, a classical choreographer of considerable talent whose well-constructed, witty and musical pieces could well enrich other repertories.
The "Dancers in Action" program presented this weekend at the college's Kraushaar Auditorium included two Bonnefoux ballets, one a premiere. Both were, intentionally, trifles. Light, party pieces similar in tone, although both were set to music by American composers, both had a distinctly French aura.
"Tarantella," to music of Gottschalk, put five girls in pursuit of the lone boy. The girls attacked him in pairs, sent a single dancer after him, or pranced around behind him in a line. The work was classical in vocabulary, with folk touches (it is more a child of the tarantella from Bournonville's "Napoli" than the Balanchine work of the same name).
The premiere, "Salute to Sousa," was a cheeky parade for three squadrons of girls, wearing berets and tutus and saluting while stalking on point, each led by a different lieutenant (Tyler Ingram, Julie Cox or Pamela Croce). "Sousa" is a teaching piece cleverly disguised as a ballet and serves both functions beautifully.
Sandwiched in between these valentines, and other less distinguished works, was a dance of deadly seriousness. In Juliet Forrest's "Syndrome," world tensions, nuclear destruction and whatever is left of society were given the full multimedia treatment -- slide show, synthesizer score, 10 grim-faced females dressed in antiseptic white auto mechanics uniforms. A robot that waddled on at the end could have been the star of the show, but it held the stage for such a brief time and seemed so timid and insecure that we must wait for another performance to judge him fairly.