After enduring Dance Theatre of Harlem's problematic productions and dutiful performances of 19th-Century ballet classics, even conservative balletomanes might wish the company to dance something splashy and unconstricted instead--say, an all-Geoffrey-Holder program.
Well, no need. The Tuesday "Swan Lake" (Act II) in Pasadena Civic Auditorium may have been grim--but the Harlem principals on Wednesday held major interest.
On Tuesday, tiny Judy Tyrus worked diligently at the steps but often passed through positions without completing them; moreover, the length of her tutu made her legs look even shorter, diminishing her line. Nor did her febrile emotionalism find much of a complement in the dramatically callow and technically rough performance of Joseph Cipolla opposite her.
On Wednesday night, though, Stephanie Dabney gave a radiant, polished, individual performance: dancing of maximum stretch and aplomb matched by refined musicality and histrionic sophistication.
If Donald Williams never quite reached Dabney's level of excellence, he partnered her securely and danced his solo elegantly.
On Tuesday, "Voluntaries" also featured new casting: a coolly proficient Virginia Johnson and a powerful, magnetic Lowell Smith in the leading roles. Both nights, Karen Brown, Keith Saunders and Pierre Lockett danced skillfully in demanding subsidiary assignments.