College dance concerts are usually of interest only to family and friends of the participants, but the program presented by Goucher College this weekend at Kraushaar Auditorium was good enough to deserve a wider audience. The four student pieces were short and unpretentious, each giving the college's good dancers a chance to really move, and works by both artists in residence, modern dance choreographer Gary Masters and ballet artist Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux, were as enjoyable to watch as they must have been instructive for the students to perform.
Despite its title, Masters' "Too, To Andre," set to infectious music by French Canadian composer Andre Gagnon, is a knockout. The work opens with a sassy "Jig," and sandwiches a genuinely moving duet for two women called "Remembrance" and a playful trio titled "Just Friends" before the rollicking, finger-snapping "Finale." The choreography is both brash and bubbly, and, like the other works on the program, was performed with an appealing freshness and energy.
Both new pieces by Bonnefoux are excerpts -- "Beethoven Divertissement" from "The Creatures of Prometheus" and "Prokofiev Suite" from the opera "Buffoon" -- and both are more interesting as teaching pieces than ballets. Bonnefoux, who has reclaimed the original spelling of his name from the sign painters at the Paris Opera, is the only ballet choreographer working actively today who seems to care as much about style as steps. Working with Goucher students as well as with much younger dancers from local ballet schools, he is exceptionally gifted as an imparter of performance sense and melder of styles.
While "Beethoven Divertissement" is little more than a pleasant collection of steps in classical style, the two-part "Prokofiev Suite" attempts more. The first part, "Equestrian," is a character dance developing horse and rider themes; the second, "Baile," is a spirited demicaractere duet for Goucher senior Pamela Croce and 15-year-old Julie Cox. Croce also gave a charming account of the "Fascinatin' Rhythm" solo from Balanchine's "Who Cares?"
Bonnefoux' hit from the winter concert, "A Salute to Sousa," which the exceptionally talented Cox turned into real fireworks, completed the program in high style.