Masters and Moderns

Oregon Ballet Theatre at the Newmark, 1111 SW Broadway & Main, 222-5538, Thurs-Sat 7:30 pm, Sat-Sun 2 pm, through May 22, $10-85

T he final program of Oregon Ballet Theatre's season with their much-touted new artistic director, Christopher Stowell, ends much as it began. Like his debut show last fall, Stowell presents, with Masters and Moderns, a four-course scripted dance sampler through time and taste, designed to please the patrons of OBT, if not the aspiring ballerinas of Portland. This fare is none too exotic or even ambitious, but it's pleasing, mesmerizing, and I suspect for the local ballet aficionados, downright satisfying.

Moderns has something for everyone. Its lineup includes a serious ensemble piece, a delicate pas de deux by Balanchine, an original, more provocative composition, and a final ensemble piece of jazzy sauce.

There Where She Loved begins the evening as an ode to love: terrible, romantic, multi-partnered devastating love. An American premiere, the piece was recently choreographed for the British Royal Ballet by Christopher Wheeldon, a hot, young thing internationally considered the darling of the dance world. The piece, danced in movements of multiple vignettes, is both raw and sensuous. The dancers' movements, scored to Chopin and Kurt Weill, are made more sentimental by the accompaniment of two operatic sopranos whom I think were singing in German. Love, ballet and opera are the cornerstones of theatric melodrama, but this piece is restrained and taut and haunting--the rites of spring as an open wound.

The most outstanding piece of the evening comes in act II: il nodo, an original by Julia Adam. Dancers dressed like Italian dolls in their underclothes and painted mimes twirl and jerk to Renaissance string music. The style is unlike anything else in the program; the movements fresh, strange, evocative and scintillating. Each movement incorporates a different intriguing prop: a yo-yo time piece, a helium balloon, or streamers from the ceiling. The dancers must dance with their prop as well as let it become an appendage of their body. At one point the dancers become tangled in rope to the point of evoking subtle bondage, suggesting themes of captivity and challenging the dimensions of the space. This piece alone makes Masters and Moderns worth attending. ANNA SIMON