Stage: Wednesday, October 10, 2002
Fort Worth Dallas Ballet\r\nGiselle at 8pm Fri and Sat, and 2pm Sun in Bass Performance Hall,\r\n555 Commerce St, FW. $15-$62.\r\n817-665-6500.\r\n\r\nBruce Wood Dance Company\r\n8pm Fri and Sat at McFarlin Memorial Auditorium on the SMU campus.\r\n$10-$55. 214-528-5576.

Bruce Wood and FWDB make for a ballet loverís dream this weekend.


It seems to be feast or famine in the performance arts this season. Two weeks ago we had Arlington Ballet, the Fort Worth Opera, and, in Dallas, a taste of Bruce Wood Dance Company all during the same weekend. This week thereís Fort Worth Dallas Balletís Giselle, Friday through Sunday, in Bass Performance Hall, as well as the Bruce Wood dancers again, this time in a full-length program for the Texas International Theatrical Arts Society (TITAS) in SMUís McFarlin Memorial Auditorium Friday and Saturday.

The season-opening Giselle has one feature that puts the ballet in the must-see category ó a guest appearance by Carlos Acosta as Albrecht on Friday and Saturday evenings. Arguably the most exciting male classical dancer of his generation, Acosta exudes an animal magnetism on stage that hasnít been around since the days of Rudolf Nureyev. A big man with enviable technique, he lands supercharged leaps like a feather and immerses himself in a role as few performers do. Currently a principal with Londonís Royal Ballet and formerly a principal with the Houston Ballet, the young Cuban-born dancer is reportedly flirting with the idea of making American Ballet Theatre his ultimate home. One wonders how he will play Albrecht, who ranks up there with Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly and the Duke in Rigoletto as men youíd least like to introduce to your sister. Will he play the cad or just a careless lover, or will he find something noble in the role? Stay tuned.

The ballet itself is a jewel, one remnant of 1840s French Romanticism still with us. The second act in particular is the most satisfying excursion into metaphysics that we have in dance. By the end of the first act, Giselle is jilted, insane, and then dead, but her spirit finds its way to a band of Wilis, the spirits of betrayed maidens who have died of broken hearts, according to European folklore. There seems to be a lot of them, and theyíre a vengeful bunch, patiently waiting to destroy any male who crosses their path. An unsuspecting Albrecht visits Giselleís grave site, and a frantic Giselle spends the night protecting him from her spirit sisters. When church bells toll the dawn and the Wilis disappear, she has won. More importantly, her love and forgiveness, twin pillars of New Testament Christianity, have broken the spell that keeps her earthbound, and, after a poignant farewell to Albrecht, she ascends to heaven. Somewhere Iíve read that in early productions Giselle was actually hooked to a harness and gently drawn into the fly loft as the curtain descended. While visually moving, the effect was probably weighed down by too many mechanical problems and dropped because of them.

Regular company principal Enrica Guana Tseng will dance the title role Friday and Saturday, with Christy Corbitt Miller set for Sunday. Millerís Albrecht will be company regular Ronnie Underwood.

Outside of dance circles, TITAS isnít really a household word, but the Dallas-based presenting organization is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. The brainchild of Tom Adams, former business manager of what used to be known as the Fort Worth Ballet, the group has a new director now, Charles Santos, and a new outlook. Originally restricting itself to all-dance, non-classical groups that wouldnít compete with area ballet companies, TITAS recently began offering off-beat musical groups and soloists as well. But a cardinal rule remained: No local talent. Santos has expanded the groupís horizon to include important regional organizations, and the first to be brought to Dallas under his umbrella is Fort Worthís Bruce Wood Dance Company. The company had never performed in Big D until two weeks ago when it appeared to a rave reception on a TITAS preview program, which featured brief performances from a number of artists and groups scheduled in the upcoming season.

Wood opens the regular TITAS season this weekend with a full evening of three ballets, including his sensational setting of Ravelís Bolero, which blew everybody away at the Fort Worth premiere. Also scheduled are his working of the Philip Glass Violin Concerto, called Reds, and his controversial setting of Bachís Double Violin Concerto in D, which he calls Being ó controversial in the sense that the late George Balanchine already used the score for his Concerto Barocco, still in the repertory of the New York City Ballet and frequently seen in other cities.

The one exception TITAS makes to classical ballet is its spring fund-raiser called Command Performance, held at the State Fair Music Hall. Here world-class ballerinas and danseurs are programmed one after the other in an old-fashioned, anything-you-can-do-I-can-do-better gala that leaves most people happily exhausted by the end. The next one of these is set for March 29, 2003.

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