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DANCE REVIEW : Cast Changes in Concluding Ballet Theatre Programs at Center


COSTA MESA — Injury sustained by another dancer brought the eloquent Alessandra Ferri unexpectedly into the roster of cast changes in one of two final American Ballet Theatre programs Sunday at the Orange County Performing Arts Center in Costa Mesa.

Replacing the originally announced Cynthia Harvey, Ferri on Sunday evening repeated her incandescent performance of Nikiya in "La Bayadere" (Kingdom of the Shades) of the previous afternoon. This time, her Solor was the Argentine firebrand Julio Bocca.

Wearing bare-midriff Corsair costuming, Bocca brought spectacular elevation, volcanic corkscrew air-turns and reckless power to his variation. He also loaded in some extraneous character shoulder shrugs, and though he did not look ideally matched with Ferri, proved an admirable partner.

Martine van Hamel danced a "Bayadere" (Sunday afternoon) with regal authority and warmth opposite the previously reviewed Kevin McKenzie. Though plagued with some technical weakness, she evoked a desirable sense of loss and Romantic yearning. Her variously able subsidiary shades were Christina Fagundes, Deirdre Carberry and Lucette Katerndahl.

Completing the afternoon program, Cynthia Anderson brought clean line but little emotional weight to the communal grieving of Antony Tudor's "Dark Elegies"; and Susan Jaffe and Jeremy Collins took the key roles in George Balanchine's "Theme and Variations," each for only the second time.

Jaffe was resplendent in line and security, if not ideally chiseled and brilliant. But Collins, listed as a soloist on the company roster, looked taxed to the limit even if he did not falter in the demanding virtuoso challenges. He partnered effortfully.

While remaining a problematic ballet, Agnes de Mille's "The Informer" gained considerable authority and dramatic impact when the three principals in the original 1988 cast took over the roles Sunday evening.

Victor Barbee created a complex, fierce and sympathetic Wounded Veteran. Johan Renvall was a cocky, magnetic Young Fighter, seemingly able to strut on air. Kathleen Moore, as the Girl, matured from the invulnerability of youthful innocence and naivete to acceptance of complicity in guilt and the price of community.

In closing the company engagement, Gil Boggs inherited the role tailor-made for Mikhail Baryshnikov in Twyla Tharp's "Push Comes to Shove." While not eclipsing memories of that illustrious predecessor, Boggs demonstrated the wonted shimmies, body articulations, virtuosic vaults and turns, and also managed to recapture a sufficient amount of the original humor and wit.

Emil de Cou, Charles Barker and Jack Everly shared conducting duties.

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