Music and Dance Reviews : Joffrey Ballet in Ashton Program


A poet brought to his end by conflicting loves, a Chaplinesque dandy trying to make peace between his bride and jilted girlfriend, a trio of sleek geometric figures--these subjects as explored by Frederick Ashton gave the Joffrey Ballet program an arresting focus Wednesday at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion

Putting “Illuminations,” “A Wedding Bouquet,” and “Monotones” on a single bill is a stroke of inspiration. It shows the late choreographer’s range, from surreal tragedy to arch, pre-Noel Coward comedy to abstract simplicity, and at the same time illustrates a common thematic thread: the pull between opposing forces, the eternal triangle.

There is nothing quite like “Illuminations” for phantasmagoria, its benignly indifferent Pierrots bobbing to the tune of Britten’s nocturnal reverie. True, Glenn Edgerton’s tormented Poet leaned more to the hedonist, defiant side than did Luis Perez who used to specialize in this role. But Edgerton made every impulse count, charging each with clarity and energy.


Beatriz Rodriguez, as Profane Love, certainly matched his intensity on her own wonderfully sinewy terms, while Charlene Gehm (back with the company after an outing with “Phantom of the Opera”) personified Sacred Love as a glowing white emblem held on high.

All three returned for the other literary item, the ever-apt 1937 “Bouquet.” In his little black mustache and pomaded hair Edgerton made a nervous Dandy caught between the demented Julia (Rodriguez) and his Bride. Dancing the Bride for the first time, Tina LeBlanc proved as knowing as her experienced cohorts. She was blithely lyrical, all the while dropping deft hints of demure disbelief.

“Monotones” I--again, two women and a man, but treated as unisex by the pristine Cynthia Giannini, Kim Sagami and Peter Narbutas--turned out to be the only weak link, its almost cheap theatricality not up to the second installment, reviewed Thursday.

Jonathan Mack sang “Les Illuminations” with lyric purity. Allan Lewis conducted the Britten Lord Berners’ score for “Bouquet” ably. But he swamped a somewhat timorous David Vaughan narrating its Gertrude Stein text.