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Dance And Music Reviews : New Principals In Joffrey's 'Esteemed Guests'

September 29, 1986|LEWIS SEGAL

New principals and a more confident corps began to achieve mastery over Mark Morris' ballet "Esteemed Guests" at its second performance, Friday in the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.

At the work's premiere earlier in the week, the Joffrey Ballet danced so roughly, and with such a sense of strain, that the ballet might well have been titled "Extreme Duress."

No longer. If the paired soloists in the outer sections of this three-part work (set to a C.P.E. Bach cello concerto) still looked mismatched, the disparities now seemed deliberate and purposeful: Morris demonstrating the differences that contrasting physiques and styles of attack can create in rigidly matched (mirror) dancing.

In the rapid, intricate opening sequence, the willowy Deborah Dawn and the chunky Jodie Gates looked breezier and far less metronomic than their predecessors--with Gates the surer in technique of the two newcomers.

This has been a splendid season for Gates, with joyous, generous performances in "Birthday Variations" and "Arden Court," in particular, confirming the special radiance she brought to Morris' ballet.

During the hard-driving finale, the very slender Patrick Corbin and the more muscular Philip Jerry couldn't always bring off Morris' complex array of soloing, partnering and synchronizing problems, but they managed to appear more genuinely engaged (rather than overwhelmed) by the choreography than their Wednesday counterparts. Give them time.

Leslie Carothers contributed her usual powerful concentration and steely technique to the central adagio, dominating her colleagues with her quasi-dramatic presence and deeply sculpted movement.

"Arden Court" and "Kettentanz" again completed the program.

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