American Ballet Theatre offered a relentlessly lightweight mixed bill Saturday afternoon in Shrine Auditorium--recast repeats of George Balanchine's breezy "Donizetti Variations" and David Gordon's witty "Field, Chair and Mountain," along with the first look this season at two familiar, confectionary showpieces: Michael Vernon's "In a Country Garden" and Lynn Taylor Corbett's "Great Galloping Gottschalk." A kiddie matinee.
Indeed, the whimsical six-part suite "Great Galloping Gottschalk" seemed in this context a kind of dance equivalent to children's theater--every effect underlined.
Its pleasures came from the freshness of the performances--especially Deirdre Carberry darting happily through the corps in Section One and Johan Renvall nonchalantly winning the dance competition in Section Five by sitting down on his working leg while spinning and then rising up again.
Robert La Fosse danced splendidly in the lyrical pas de deux, as usual lost in a cloud and scarcely looking at his partner. Too bad, for opposite him Susan Jaffe was quite something to see: fleet, effortless, radiant and textbook-perfect technically. Paul Connelly conducted.