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DANCE REVIEW : Ballet Pacifica Gives Uneven Moulton Theatre Performance

February 15, 1988|CHRIS PASLES | Times Staff Writer

Ballet Pacifica is celebrating its 25th anniversary, which founding artistic director Lila Zali credits in part to the Laguna Beach-based company starting small and building modestly.

But if its aims have been modest, so too, apparently, have been its achievements.

Saturday at the Moulton Theatre in Laguna Beach, the company looked uneven, insecure, unfinished, in some cases unprepared. Yet, with the exception of some hard-working younger members--doubtless still students--it also looked oddly self-satisfied.

Kitty Sue McCoy seemed to have modeled her new "Shades of the Orient" (music by the group Japan) upon, Lord help us, a Gerald Arpino rock ballet, down even to the suggestion of mottled lighting. But, fortunately, McCoy's pseudo-Hindu romp was considerably shorter than Arpino's egregious "Light Rain."

Otherwise, the wavy arms, slinky postures and backbends all looked derived from the Joffrey Ballet popmeister. McCoy's contribution seemed limited to having the dancers wear only one slipper (the other foot bare), which lent them a slightly hobbled look.

Still, Tanya August, Gina Cerato, Kelly Leonardi and Sylvia Ricogave the choreography their all and executed their fouettes with reasonable success.

In her new "Dialogues," Zali responded with sensitivity if not deep insight to the courtly and lyrical impulses of Mozart's early Divertimento in E-flat, K. 113. But throughout this abstract neoclassical work, the dancing looked stop-and-go, with cautious preparations, broken phrasing and maintenance of line a sometime thing.

Kristi Moorhead, however, proved refined in turns in attitude and arabesque, even though Louis Carver provided very effortful partnering and almost brought her final fish dive to grief.

In "Arabesque" (music by Bach), Zali chose to restrict herself to group variations on this fundamental position. But the results demonstrated only how many of the dancers were unsteady or approximate in the positions.

Completing the program was Jo Emery's "Kolors," comic vignettes to music and lyrics by Ken Nordine and Richard Campbell that showed nothing so much as the perils of throwing away or parodying technique that the dancers do not firmly have.

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