Times Dance Writer

Thais Leavitt and Richard Fein each received their early dance training in Los Angeles and then went on to notable ballet careers--she in the Duesseldorf Opera Ballet, he with Eliot Feld. Thus their appearance on the "Reunion L.A." program Friday in the John Anson Ford Theatre, represented a genuine homecoming and both Leavitt and Fein graced the occasion with ambitious, unorthodox solos and duets.

Leavitt displayed unusual dramatic power along with secure technique, qualities especially evident in Rolph Haendel's sinewy, Grahamesque etude "The Calling." Fein brought extraordinary authority to every role, especially the swaggering, none-too-bright sailor in Jeff Satinoff's fine new "Bend to the Bitter End" character solo.

Leavitt and Fein began with the formalized sensuality of a "Scheherazade" pas de deux credited to Mikhail Fokine but of dubious origins. (Fokine's 1910 classic had no pas de deux and many of the lifts in the Leavitt/Fine version were stylistically suspect in themselves.) They ended with the intricate partnering gambits of "Incontro," a duet by Paolo Bortoluzzi lacking a compelling dance impetus, vivid imagery and musicality. No matter: Together, Leavitt and Fein commanded more than enough physical control and electric rapport to triumph in even such problematic vehicles as these.

Sharing the evening were Ludmila Lopukhova (formerly of the Kirov Ballet) and Laurence Blake (formerly of the Joffrey)--admirable artists with new roots in the local dance community who offered several unsuitable, overfamiliar classical showpieces along with a recent tailor-made pas de deux.

Long before Lopukhova's series of fouettes ended prematurely, she and Blake looked miscast in Petipa's "Le Corsaire" pas de deux. For all her ideal classical placement, Lopukhova made no individual statement whatsoever--merely efficient, anonymously executed steps. (Who needs another Xeroxed ballerina in this rep?) Replacing Christopher Boatwright, Blake danced elegantly, with his usual partnering finesse, but without essential heat or flamboyance.

Lopukhova also ventured a skillful, if emotionally remote run-through of Fokine's "The Dying Swan" but looked like a major dancer only in the excerpt, with Blake, from Stanley Holden's recently reviewed "Lyric Suite."

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