writers on dancing


High Stepping Stars

Dances Patrelle
Symphony Space
New York City
April 7, 2004

by Mary Cargill
copyright ©2005 by Mary Cargill

Francis Patrelle’s spring show was typical of his offerings—well-mannered, musical dancing with some intriguing guest stars, this time ABT’s Marcelo Gomes and NYCB’s Jenifer Ringer. The program opened with "Black Forest Carousel," a greeny-blue haze of a piece for two couples set to Schubert’s “Fantasia”. The choreography was romantic in a post-"Dances at a Gathering" way, though the two couples (Ilona Wall, Sarah Smith, Benjamin Lester, and James Reed Hague) didn’t have distinct personas. But Patrelle captured much of the delicate romanticism of the music. He was helped greatly by the lovely costumes by Rita B. Watson, who dressed the men in stylized, abbreviated tail coats, giving an impression of 19th century formality without the helicopter effect whenever they turned.

Marcelo Gomes, always a perfect romantic hero, danced an unexpectedly brash and funny solo to Leonard Bernstein’s “Candide Overture”. Gomes was dressed as a dime store Uncle Sam, strutting and prancing with a top hat and cane. It was showy, though not ironic, and caught the blaring good humor of Bernstein’s wonderful music.

"Red/Ellington" was another exercise in mood, this time Duke Ellington’s jazz. Ballet danced to jazz can often make ballet look artificial and jazz sound unstructured, and Patrelle’s piece, while more successful than most, still needed high heels. Jenifer Ringer was the most good humored of femme fatales, with gigantic red feather boa; she danced, as always, with a pristine lusciousness that is incapable of vulgarity. Her real-life husband, James Fayette, was her cigarette-toting cavalier, and danced with his usual sympathy; even a scruffy beard can’t disguise his warm generosity.

The couple was backed up by a pas de trios, Heather Hawk, Jared Matthews, and James Reed Hague, who flicked and pranced. Matthews (from ABT) got some of the most interesting choreography, a dance with a hat that had some of the smoothness of a Fosse piece without the slouching and the quirks—he is a magnetic performer.

Volume 3, No. 15
April 18, 2005

copyright ©2005 Mary Cargill


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last updated on April 11, 2005