In the average American town, the spring dance recital is a ritual. Academies rent major concert halls to accommodate their shows. Here, there’s so much dance activity that talented young artists often perform professionally before they graduate, in concerts that are usually choreographer-driven. So the debut performance by 43 students in the Joffrey Ballet School/New School University B.F.A. program, held at the Joyce, felt sort of quaint. Choreographed entirely to music by Aaron Copland were premieres by Kathryn Posin and Trinette Singleton—the former the director of the new program, the latter a faculty member in it—and a ballet by another teacher, John Magnus, plus excerpts from classic “Western” ballets by Eugene Loring and Agnes de Mille. Posin’s work, Concerto for Piano and Orchestra, seemed awkward and awfully busy, with 17 women in frumpy dresses ornamented with wide ribbons like the ones worn by beauty queens; think Rockettes playing the Rainbow Room. Three men did yeoman duty as partners. Singleton’s and Magnus’s pieces met with slightly more success in terms of technical execution, and the classic snippets were well performed.
Another new enterprise is the Tressor Dance Company, directed and choreographed by ballet-trained Alexander Tressor, a Russian émigré with a background in musical comedy, industrial shows, and commercials. His troupe of eight, in the 17 short vignettes that made up slide dance (Tribeca Playhouse), seemed to be auditioning, busy selling their looks and personalities—amplified on projected slides—rather than showing us innovative choreography. There’s apparently an audience for this material; the house was packed and viewers cheered. But a Downtown black-box theater may not be Tressor’s true home.