Seen over the weekend at Smothers Theatre at Pepperdine University, American Ballet Comedy applied an elbow to the Middle-American rib with material that mostly lampooned familiar pop forms rather than high-brow dance. Deftly handled physical comedy reflected the troupe's dance training, but the revue did not require--or reward--a dance audience.
Elaborately costumed skits delivered more sight gags than movement jokes or sendups of specific dance styles. One needn't be a balletomane to get the joke in the "Black Cockroach Pas de Deux," or be a flamenco aficionado to recognize the ruffles and flourishes of "La Stampa De Feeta."
The doddering oldsters of "The Remembrance Waltz," the wildly gyrating rock 'n' roll priestess "Michelle Mashuga" and the "Yotown Buttercups" owed more to television than Terpsichore.
Only "Smile" broke the mold with two circus clowns trying to mend a broken heart. Veronica Yurasits and Zane Rankin made engaging clowns and company director/choreographer Bob Bowyer was touchingly forlorn as their subject.
Bowyer made a superb straight man throughout the program, and Yurasits brought energy and high spirits to a series of zany parts. Roles demanding more dancing fell mostly to Rankin and the charming Irene Cho, who performed with style, wit and secure technique.