Smuin Promises Simple Fun, Then Unexpectedly Delivers Something More

Recently visiting from San Francisco, the 10-year-old, 15-member group makes a swell vehicle for Michael Smuin's vivid, theatrically savvy choreography. You can't approach his work expecting poetic subtlety or profundity. Better simply to accept its invitation to colorful, easily accessible entertainment. Smuin likes to combine dance genres: ballet and tango for Tango Palace, ballet and Russian folk forms for Les Noces. The matings remain somewhat uncomfortable, but the overall results are dependably lively. In Les Noces, abetted by Stravinsky's score, they are singularly touching as well—in their depiction of intense, awkward youth. Come Dance Me a Song assembles a crazy quilt of styles—among them jazz, tap, and classical ballet—to animate a medley of Elton John numbers, often with astute craft and/or genuine feeling. The nostalgia factor looms large in this piece, evoking a time when we were happier than we are now.

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