The junior Joffrey's one-night stand was an ideal occasion for fortunetelling. Members of last evening's audience at George Mason University's Harris Theatre in Fairfax could be overheard guessing which of the young performers of the Joffrey II Dancers would become tomorrow's stars. Those without crystal balls, however, also kept their eyes on the stage, for there was plenty of talent to enjoy in the here and now.
It was a good thing, too, that the dancers were well trained and skillfully presented, for much of the evening's choreography was the sort that served rather than soared. "Cabochon," by Philip Jerry of the big Joffrey Ballet, is a classical exercise reminiscent of the old "Paquita." The texture of the dances, though, is dense and not nearly lush enough for Reinhold Gliere's richly orchestrated score. In the ballerina role, Johanna Snyder was able to show how precisely her long legs could accompany the grand sound of a solo harp, but despite Geoffrey Rhue's able and attentive partnering, she began to enjoy herself only later, in "One in Five" by Ray Powell, formerly of Britain's Royal Ballet. In this work to Joseph and Johann Strauss rhythms and tunes, Snyder is the only female in a cast of five. Powell, alas, supplies more cuteness than choreography.
Jerry's and Powell's pieces, at least, didn't pretend to be full of meaning. Lynne Taylor-Corbett's "Diary" could have bogged down in the sentimentality of Judith Lander's songs if Monique Irish and Roger Plaut hadn't danced it so simply. They delivered the slightly syncopated plastique of Taylor-Corbett's movement with a fine, clean edge. Plaut, a local lad who studied and danced with the Maryland Youth Ballet and has just been accepted into the big Joffrey, is now very strong in the torso and arms. His penchant seems to be for the modern repertory.
Choreography by Denmark's classic master August Bournonville is, of course, worth watching. Even out of context, in a medley of dances drawn by the late Toni Lander from three of his big ballets, Bournonville's steps mesh -- with each other, with the music and with "manners" -- to achieve exhilaration. All the cast was caught up in this heady spirit, but in individual ways. Cynthia Giannini's joy in dancing is like a gentle smile. She's small in stature and never seems to launch into motion; she just floats to where she's supposed to be. Parrish Maynard, who guarded her proudly against the other fellows, has gusto plus the lightning leg work that the Danish school demands. Whatever the future may hold for Giannini and Maynard, last night they were stars.
Joffrey II is now directed by Richard Englund and Jeremy Blanton; Gage Bush is ballet mistress. If you associate these and other staff names with American Ballet Theatre II, don't worry. Only a crystal ball last season could have shown you what has become present reality.