American Ballet Theatre's midweek mixed bills continue to be the best-kept secret in Los Angeles dance.
Paid attendance Tuesday in Shrine Auditorium amounted to 1,002--less than one-sixth of the house--for a familiar program in which some of the company's more appealing dancers undertook major roles for the first time locally.
New to the male lead of Balanchine's "Donizetti Variations" here, Wes Chapman capably executed the fancy turns and other bravura feats but, more remarkably, linked them to less showy steps in an unbroken flow of movement.
He also conscientiously partnered Amanda McKerrow (previously reviewed) and always seemed to be dancing for his own pleasure. No pressure, no salesmanship, just secure, generous, good-natured virtuosity.
In contrast, Julio Bocca obviously worked to provoke a reaction to his company debut in the "Don Quixote" pas de deux. Opposite a very secure and stylish Cheryl Yeager, Bocca danced with brilliant control half the time but elsewhere as if he had gum on his shoes and no notion where he'd be facing when he stopped moving.
In Balanchine's "Theme and Variations," Deirdre Carberry danced her solos pertly but the long, difficult and usually glorious pas de deux went so badly Tuesday--with so many problems of timing, placement and rapport between ballerina and cavalier--that it became impossible to judge Carberry's potential in this kind of stellar assignment.
In his "Theme" debut, Robert Hill proved neither a satisfactory partner nor a reliable soloist. Sequences built on repetitions of a step were particularly unfortunate. However, early on, he displayed a distinctive style of attack--at once rangy and feline--which, along with his elegant line, was undeniably promising. Maybe in '88 . . .