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Saturday, March 20, 2004 - Page updated at 12:00 A.M.
By Moira Macdonald
The dance, a dark, abstract ballet set to three pieces of music by Estonian composer Arvo Pärt, was the standout in an enjoyable evening of four repertory works grouped under the theme "The Romantics." Fonte, whose previous work for PNB was "Almost Tango" in 2002, has great imagination and range. "Within/Without" balances beautifully between ballet and modern dance; with soft slippers and flexed feet mingling with perfectly balanced arabesques and quicksilver turns. Costumed in soft greens and lit in bright, stark white, the dance has a desolate, lonely feel to it, even in the ensemble sections.
Lallone and Wevers brought an achingly sad precision to their intricate duet, echoing the dark tones of the music. Fonte even incorporated baritone Erich Parce as an element of the choreography: He brought a new tension with him as he walked slowly downstage, an intruder in black, and extended an arm to the dancers echoing the ballet's theme pose before beginning his solo.
At the end, the entire cast surged on stage in a swarm of movement before retreating to separate, melancholy worlds; as darkness fell, some were on the floor, some walking slowly upstage, arms reaching for something that wasn't there.
Less felicitous was the evening's other world premiere, Stowell's short pas de deux "Dual Lish," set to an onstage piano duet composed by William Bolcom. Noelani Pantastico and Jonathan Porretta are charming performers, but the straightforward dance added up to little more than pleasantness. And it lacked a real connection between the dancers they were always side-by-side but rarely together.
The evening ended with the ultimate in romantic ballet: Paul Taylor's "Roses," a dreamlike, pastoral ode to courtship, performed by six couples. Love blossomed throughout: a hand floating gently to touch a partner's head, a head bending toward a partner's shoulder, a playful series of cartwheels, as if happiness had become too much to hold a nice note on which to send us out into a windy evening, with romance still in the air.
Moira Macdonald: 206-464-2725 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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