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DTH opening night

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Did anyone go?

Susan Reiter reviews Dance Theatre of Harlem's revamped St. Louis Woman in DanceView Times:

A Revised St. Louis Woman, and the Return of Alicia Graf

Once a ballerina, always a ballerina—or so it seemed when Alicia Graf swept onstage as the "angel" figure in Serenade in her return to Dance Theatre of Harlem after what her program bio calls a "four-year hiatus." Her imposing presence, innate elegance and technical aplomb were immediately apparent when she first surfaced as an 18-year-old in such roles as the Siren in Prodigal Son, and she has lost none of her allure while pursuing a history degree at Columbia and holding several internships. She has a ways to go to gain back full strength; she held the high arabesque, during which she is promenaded by an "invisible" partner, beautifully, but her descent from it was not altogether smooth, and there was a similarly muddied moment during the final "Elegie" section. But she claimed the stage with that muted glamour and quiet sophistication which make so many of DTH's women so special.

The company's Serenade, even with taped music (which was of a higher caliber, with brisk tempos, than most recordings one has to endure at dance performances) presented a glorious vision of a unique sisterhood. The ensemble's awareness of, and graciousness toward, each other, was touching, and their dancing had a bracing vigor crossed with just the right touch of mystery. Lenore Pavlakos tried a bit too hard to be ingratiating as the "Waltz" woman, smiling out at the audience all the time, and her glitter-dusted eye shadow seemed excessive for this role. Akua Parker, a bold, forceful dancer, sailed along on the brisk rhythms of the "Russian" girl's main section. Kip Sturm performed his partnering duties modestly and efficiently, while Antonio Douthit—last summer's exciting DTH newcomer who made a fascinating impact as "Phlegmatic"—brought an intriguing level of shading to a role (the man who appears for the "Elegie") that can often seem stolid.

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Yes, I was there. I saw the program Saturday night at the New Jersey PAC. I was going to hold my peace and not say anything---but since you asked Alexandra......

I have not seen DTH for a few years, and I did not see much beauty in their "Serenade". On seeing it, my first impression was---'This is probably what it might have looked like back in 1934 when Balanchine was choreographing with students. The reviewer might be right when she said the taped music was too fast; the soloists, in particular, had t rouble keeping up. The male soloist in the last segment had my sympathy with the girls throwing themselves at him and having to catch and lift them. He looked a bit unsteady; most of the girls were amply built.

"St. Louis Woman" started off well for the first half hour; but after that it got very repetitious. There was one pas de deux after another--not much variety. It went on--and on--and on...after the climax of the murder, I thought surely it is over---but no---there were at least three more climaxes.--It was much too long at 70 minutes.

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