A great part of the charm in Frederick Ashton's "La Fille mal Gardee" comes from its masterful mix of many rich dance and theatrical traditions.
Formal classicism, folk dancing, sentimental pastorale, carnival masquerade, English Christmas-pantomime, domestic farce: They're all here, tightly laced together with those pink ribbons that Ashton uses as a major ornamental motif in his choreography.
But these overlapping influences can strain the versatility of any ballet company--and the Joffrey is no exception. In a generally agreeable company performance, Saturday in the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, you could see the technically accomplished David Palmer (Colas) continually working at switching gears (or idioms), sometimes dancing with extraordinary warmth, boldness and spontaneity, but just as often smearing steps or even temporarily losing control.
In this first "Fille" of the 1987 season, Tina LeBlanc (Lise) also had trouble reconciling her steely, sharply articulated dancing with her impulsive, hoydenish characterization. Though manipulating those ribbons still looked anything but easy, Palmer and LeBlanc danced together more comfortably Saturday than in their opening-night "Fille" last September. However, the most successful performances came in two comedy roles with less complex dance demands.