Johan Renvall and Danilo Radojevic each danced roles choreographed for Mikhail Baryshnikov during the American Ballet Theatre mixed bill, Wednesday in Shrine Auditorium. And just as Baryshnikov himself has arguably never made "Le Spectre de la Rose" (created for Nijinsky) completely his own, so Renvall and Radojevic remained in the shadow of their illustrious predecessor.
Renvall had the easier task, for Kenneth MacMillan's "Requiem" is too new to be irrevocably identified with Baryshnikov and its technical arsenal lies well within his range. Though the heat and presence that Baryshnikov brought to the lead role became muted, Renvall's deep sincerity and tenderness of gesture made his performance exceptional.
Opposite Renvall, Bonnie Moore danced with fluid (if emotionally oblivious) lyricism, but passionate virtuosity came from Ricardo Bustamante and Amanda McKerrow in the Offertorium section and from Nora Kimball (opposite a stolid John Turjoman) in the Dies Irae. Robert Hill capably partnered the commanding Christine Dunham in the Ingemisco. Joining previously reviewed vocalists, boy soprano Michael Brown sang plaintively.
In Twyla Tharp's "Push Comes to Shove," Radojevic recaptured a sense of Baryshnikovian bravado by exploiting surprise: bold, unexpected changes of speed, direction and impetus. No, he didn't achieve the heroic stature that once gave even the craziest passages a visionary quality, but he danced with such charm, energy, precision and technical flair that he could take his place among nearly all the original principals Wednesday--and hold it by right of conquest.
"Symphonie Concertante" showed Ross Stretton and Cynthia Harvey at their best--not so much executing steps as becoming embodiments of refined neoclassic style. McKerrow, who replaced Susan Jaffe, might have matched their excellence, but her heavy-lidded emoting disfigured the purity of her dancing.