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A Night of Opportunities Lost in Hectic 'Midsummer'

September 23, 1996|CHRIS PASLES

For a second, it looks as though choreographer Christopher Tabor is going to give us a feminist "Midsummer Night's Dream." Picking up the discarded magical flower Oberon has used to make her fall in love with the donkey-headed Bottom, Titania figures out the joke he has played on her. What will she do?

Alas, nothing.

She tosses the flower away and throws herself into Oberon's arms.

Opportunity lost, one of many in the hectic, confused, joke-heavy work Tabor created in 1986 for then-Long Beach Ballet, now Los Angeles Classical Ballet, which danced the full-length work over the weekend at the John Anson Ford Amphitheatre.

Tabor reportedly has tightened the choreography and made some changes for the outdoor theater. Site-specific moments included Puck appearing to tear up plants at the back of the stage in his search for the enchanted flower and strings of electric lights up the hillside at the end of the ballet.

Scene shifting occurred adroitly and at the frenetic pace of the choreography. The music--a bewilderingly insensitive score compiled from works by Prokofiev--was played on tape.

The hard-working company danced with caution Friday, possibly because the dampness of the night made the floor slippery. Possibly too, because the choreography gave so few opportunities for genuine expressivity.

Guest artists included Alexander Gorbatsevich (Moscow Classical Ballet) and Karen Gabay (Cleveland Ballet) as a coolish, rapportless Oberon and Titania.

They had no monopoly on lack of emotional projection. Mayumi Hanabusa (Hermia) and Nicole Harlan (Helena) inhabited different emotional and stylistic worlds from each other and from their partners, Todd Fox (Lysander) and Daniel Gwatkin (Demetrium).

Anton Labuschagne (Theseus) and the long-limbed Lisa Marie Goodwin (Hippolyta) presided indifferently over the court.

Sergei Domrachev mugged mercilessly, but bounded effortlessly as Puck. Michael Cummings was the princely-proportioned Bottom; Saiat Assatriam, the prominent major-domo Philostrate.

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