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DANCE REVIEW

Herrera Brings Speed, Strength to Juliet

February 26, 1996|LEWIS SEGAL | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Just out of her teens, Paloma Herrera brings to the role of Juliet strength, freshness and a sense of living each moment to the fullest. In the Saturday matinee cast of the American Ballet Theatre "Romeo and Juliet," at the Orange County Performing Arts Center, she danced with great speed, force and surety.

Unfortunately, Herrera's sharpness of attack undermined her in lyrical passages: Skimming steps (bourrees)became percussive assaults, with her footwork always making far more noise than that of the other two Juliets in the American Ballet Theatre weekend. The tomb scene also found her ricocheting between emotions implausibly. However, this remains a potentially major interpretation.

At 26, Keith Roberts is a highly versatile artist with a specialization in the ballets of Twyla Tharp. As Romeo, his dancing often looked textbook-correct rather than expressive, but he acted with convincing passion and partnered strongly. Indeed, he and Herrera made the best-matched couple of the engagement in height, temperament and style.

With the ballet all newly cast Saturday afternoon, Ethan Brown proved a nasty, one-dimensional Tybalt, Jonathan Fagan a suitably oppressive Paris, Kathleen Moore an impressive, intensely protective Nurse. A blank-faced Angel Corella danced beautifully as Benvolio and Parrish Maynard looked energetic but technically uneven in the Mandolin Dance.

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