The 22nd annual Towson State University Dance Company performance opened Friday night with a generous program of dances designed to showcase the diverse talents of Towson students. TSU's dance program is obviously a popular one, judging from the number of student participants who demonstrated their capabilities in modern, classical ballet, jazz and tap dancing as well as choreography.
Three of 11 dances choreographed by guest artists, students and faculty members were strictly classical ballet offerings. Two excerpts from "The Nutcracker" -- the "Snow Pas de Deux" danced by Joy Stauber and Terence Duncan and the "Grand Pas de Deux" performed by Mr. Duncan and Kirsten Koerner -- were given studious performances.
The highlight of the classical offerings was "Pas De Quatre," a reconstruction of the 1845 ballet by Jules Perrot that had featured four of the world's most beloved dancers -- Lucille Grahn, Carlotta Grisi, Fanny Cerrito and Marie Taglioni.
Megan Smith, Karen Collins, Toni Loiselle and Kirsten Koerner performed nicely as the respective ballerinas and brought a reverence to the dancing that was both endearing and irritating. Because they were self-conscious of their technique, at times the dance was stiff and very formal. Yet, once in a while, we would glimpse the dancer's personality as it would shine through the quick and lively solo variations.
On the contemporary side of the scale, the program featured "Gambol" by Nicholas Rodriguez, a light and lyrical romp for six dancers to an airy score by Rameau.
This was a delightful and uplifting dance with motifs culled from playground games overlayed with the emotional vibrancy of youth that demonstrated clean technical dancing of the group.
In contrast, "Fall Weather Friend" by Stephan Koplowitz, featuring student dancers Mr. Duncan, Ms. Stauber, Latrissa Harper and Temple Kane, was a deftly performed dance that evoked a darkly humorous look at the various sides of friendship.
Robert Teri's Broadway-inspired jazz dance "Moon Over Bourbon Street" was an Anne Rice-flavored work that took the audience to the sensual streets of New Orleans. The 13 students had obvious fun with this full flavored work, which was danced with precision and professional polish.
Another audience favorite was "Elegance on Tap" by Dianne Braden and Kathryn Fredgren, which had eight energetic students in a tap-dancing face-off.
One group of dancers would present a rhythmic pattern, then the other dancers would echo, then elaborate on its pattern in an exhilarating exchange.