Magazine article Dance Magazine

Ballet: The Daring Project

Magazine article Dance Magazine

Ballet: The Daring Project

Article excerpt

Presenting first-rate dancers in a showcase of aesthetic mediocrity is hardly daring, in spite of claims by artistic directors Valentina Kozlova and Margo Sappington. And at least since the 1930s, jazz idioms have been vividly incorporated into the ballet repertory by such true revolutionaries as Balanchine, Robbins, and Tharp. What the Daring Project collaborators have exploited is the notion of "ballet as club act," splitting each program into classical chestnuts, followed by titillating routines appropriate to a smoke-filled room where the clinking of glasses provides accompaniment.

Dourly partnered by Charles Askegard, Kozlova opened the New York season with the Black Swan Pas de Deux, portraying Odile with a sensibility that called for rim shots on a snare drum. Her rendition of The Dying Swan was more self-absorbed, though less moving. With Sven Toorvald in "The Kiss" from Sappington's Rodin, Mis En vie (1974), Kozlova gave an eroticized version of what might have been Fay Wray's encounter with King Kong.

The shopworn display pieces of noted Russian ballet teachers--Diane et Actaeon (1935) by Agrippina Vaganova and Victor Gzovsky's Grand Pas Classique (1949)--were reminiscent of the Soviet-style "art for the masses" goal of aiming for the lowest common denominator with flashy tricks in a politically correct context. To their great credit, the delectable Irina Dvorovenko and Alex Lapshin in the former, and elegant Christina Fagundes with Askegard in the latter, performed with polished aplomb. …

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