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DANCE : Audience Gets Chance to Kick Ideas Around


You might say that creating a work of art is only half the process. The other half is what the audience perceives.

So the four choreographers in Ballet Pacifica's summer "Choreographic Project '94" felt it absolutely crucial to sit on stage at South Coast Repertory after performances of their works-in-progress on Saturday to hear what the audience had to say.

Comments ranged from the supportive to the off-the-wall to the perceptively detailed.

One person said that "Soft Moon" by Rebecca Kelly "harmonized nature and man together." Another remarked on "the beauty the human body can make" in a dance. One woman wondered if Paul Vasterling had intended to suggest "all kinds of couplings" in the same-sex partnering in his group piece, "Intermediary." He said he didn't . . .

One woman noted that Pascal Rioult had dressed one of two women in "The Game" in soft slippers, but the other in toe shoes. That's exactly the kind of detail a dance critic would notice and ponder. (Rioult said the slippers better suited that character.)

In addition to Kelly, Vasterling and Rioult, the fourth choreographer was David Allan. All four had spent about 40 hours rehearsing the Ballet Pacifica dancers in their new works over a 2 1/2-week period. This was the fourth annual summer choreographers project.

Three of the four choreographers relied on a kind of plot to support their works.

Most overt in this regard was Rioult's "The Game" (set to Debussy's Trio in G), in which contrasting couples--called "The Romantic Lovers" and "The Cynical Lovers"--went through parallel movements until the Cynical Pair (Tracy Thayer and Ricky Lizalde) began successful efforts to lure and corrupt the Romantic Lovers (Suzie Poetsch and Keith Richardson).


Rebecca Kelly's "Soft Moon" (music by Bruce Wolosoff) presented a more abstract story of a woman (Eloisa Enerio), representing the moon, as she ruled and influenced three men (Lizalde, Edward Cueto and Shawn Pace), whose movements were designed to suggest the ocean and the tides.

Vasterling's "Intermediary" (Poulenc) also incorporated a story, which the choreographer would only partially reveal in the discussion later. The piece had to do with guardian angels interacting with a human couple, he said.

Only Allan's "Capriol Suite" (Peter Warlock), dedicated to the memory of Orange County dancer Gregory Osborne, presented abstract movement in pure response to music.

Ballet Pacifica director Molly Lynch led post-performance discussions from the stage. Vasterling, Kelly and Allan all said that they started from the music to get their ideas, rather than working the other way around. Even so, one member of the audience noted that Kelly's piece had started in silence.

The choreographer said this was because she had asked herself, "What do the dot-dot-dots mean" in the title of the Wolosoff music she used, ". . . looking for the moon in the sea." She decided they meant silence.

The work, she added, presented "an obstacle for me because the music had such a strong title. I didn't want to act out the title, but I knew my dance would relate to it."

One member of the audience said that Kelly's piece appeared to end twice--falling into two sections--and that made it confusing. The choreographer agreed: "That's something I will fix . . . It's a challenge I'm still working on."

Vasterling said that although his piece involved a story about guardian angels, he didn't want to reveal the story in any great detail because he wanted the dance to speak for itself. He did say, however, that he shared "the angel story with the dancers midway through the rehearsal period. It helped them."

Audience members had gotten some hint of the story, however. One person saw the piece as "a rite of passage." Another saw it as "encouraging love from within yourself."

Allan agreed with one man's favorable comment that his "Capriol Suite" hadn't been long enough. Allan had thought, he said, of adding other music by Peter Warlock to stretch it out.

Rioult, who is French, said that he started from two points. He wanted to create a dance to chamber music by a French composer. He also had an idea about two contrasting couples, who evolved into the Romantic Lovers and the Cynical Lovers.

With his background in modern dance--he is a member of the Martha Graham Dance Company--Rioult felt initially cautious about working with ballet dancers. So he put one of the two women in the soft slippers, rather than toe shoes. He decided later that this "softness" suited the youth and innocence he intended for the character.

One man in the audience said that Rioult's piece, with its corruption of innocence, was "pretty easy to understand." Another called it "very true to life."

A third commented that "it depends on how you want to look at it, which couple was which."

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