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N.Y. City Ballet Without the Balanchine : Dance: Despite program changes, the company is continuing its tradition of promoting emerging choreographers.


CERRITOS — Program changes are a fact of life. But even to the casual balletomane, changes announced for the New York City Ballet's three performances here this weekend seemed a tad jarring.

Among the promised highlights at the Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts had been four works by the late founder of NYCB, George Balanchine. But as of two weeks ago, Balanchine's works were out, and pieces by emerging choreographers were in.

The reason?

Barbara Horgan, executrix of Balanchine's estate and the head of the Balanchine Foundation, told The Times that the Balanchine works were pulled because of a contract dispute with Columbia Artists Management Inc.

But an assistant at CAMI in New York said she could not "give out any of information" pertaining to a dispute or any program changes, even though CAMI--not the ballet company or the Cerritos Center--is producing the NYCB tour. The assistant said she would forward questions to Andrew Grossman, CAMI's senior vice president. But calls were not returned.

Asked if he knows what the story is, Robert Berretta of CAMI, a "managerial associate" who is on the road with the 20-member ballet company, said "I have no idea. I just hold the airline tickets."

However, as principal dancer and choreographer Damian Woetzel noted on the phone between planes in Phoenix, "We've been doing this tour for three years; there are always licensing changes, and we decided to present a different side of what we do."

Also on the brighter side, Cerritos Center news releases point out that NYCB is "continuing in the Balanchine tradition of creating and promoting new American classical ballet."

Tonight the company will present two Los Angeles-area premieres: Woetzel's "Ebony Concerto" and fellow principal dancer Sean Lavery's "Romeo and Juliet" pas de deux. Saturday's program features three more area premieres: Robert Weiss' "Octet," Woetzel's "Glazunov Pas De Deux" and Kevin O'Day's "Viola Alone."

"What we have in common," 27-year-old Woetzel said of the new crop of choreographers, "is our newness, our knowledge that what we've seen is different from what has come before. Certainly for me, I'm a relative novice. . . . I'm trying not to do what has been seen before."

Works by NYCB artistic director Peter Martins will include "Valse Triste" tonight, "Ecstatic Orange" on Sunday and "Barber Violin Concerto" tonight and Sunday. William Forsythe's "Herman Schmerman" will be danced both tonight and Sunday.

Swans will figure strongly on Saturday with two pas de deux from Tchaikovsky's "Swan Lake," one with American Ballet Theatre principal dancer Paloma Herrera as guest artist. ABT principal dancer Julie Kent will appear in Michel Fokine's "The Dying Swan," and Martins' "Ash" will conclude the Saturday program.

* The Principal Dancers of the New York City Ballet perform today and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m. at the Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts, 12700 Center Court Drive, Cerritos. $35 to $60. (800) 300-4345 or (310) 916-8500.

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