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The Buffalo News dance writers were asked to look over the 1990 season.

If 1990 was any indication of what local dance enthusiasts have to look forward to in 1991, they are bound to be disappointed. Not only did local dance companies cut back or cancel performances, there were also fewer performances by national professional ballet and modern companies.

Floorplay was forced to regroup, while Buffalo Ballet Theatre was forced to shorten its season, citing funding problems. The Empire State Ballet continued its popular story ballets such as "Sleeping Beauty" and "The Nutcracker." Only Elaine Gardner's Pick of the Crop troupe managed to forge an identity, consistently providing interesting choreography, music and talented guest artists such as former Pilobolus dancer Peter Pucci.

Artpark seemed to rely on traditional "big" companies such as the National Ballet of Canada, but for the first time in many years, attendance was poor and performances were lackluster.

On the brighter side, the highlight of the 1990 season was the return to Artpark of the Joffrey Ballet, after a nine-year absence from Western New York. Local dancer Valerie Madonia was unforgettable in Gerald Arpino's "Sea Shadow," as was Tina LeBlanc in "Romeo and Juliet." Also worthy of mention was the QRS Dance Buffalo series, which featured an interesting blend of contemporary and classical dance with companies such as Bella Lewitzky, Israel's Batsheva Dance and Joyce Trisler Danscompany.

By Nancy Pollina
Funding for individual projects (such as the Buffalo Academy of Visual and Performing Arts' "Light From a Dark Canvas," a ballet of the Holocaust, and Floorplay's "White Guys Afraid of Blacks on TV") came from different sources than we have seen in the past.

With the exception of the Buffalo Ballet Theatre canceling its fall concert, all the local groups were on schedule. However, within this, there developed an interesting or telling phenomenon just below the surface: a noticeable migration of dancers from one company to another. Several dancers appeared with more than one company.

For example:

Buffalo Inner City Ballet (a new arrival) featured prima ballerina Roberta Taylor of the Empire State Ballet in its spring concert. Inner City Ballet also drew dancer/choreographer Janet Reed, formerly with Pick of the Crop, and William Thomas, from UB's Zodiaque.

Floorplay Dance Company featured dancers Stephanie Robb (formerly a Craig Zara dancer), as well as Clare Fetto, associated with Festival Ballet.

Distinguished performances:

Barry Leon in Buffalo Ballet Theatre's "Romeo and Juliet" in Shea's Buffalo in spring. He has been absent this fall, and his consummate talent and presence is missed.

Roberta Taylor, who holds together the Empire Ballet, most especially as the Sugar Plum Fairy in "The Nutcracker."

Appearing in the Floorplay concert, Julia Sasso from Toronto's Dancemakers, whose profound serenity while depicting a neurotic insomniac was memorable.

Regina Larkin of the touring Joyce Trisler Company made a deep and lasting impression of sensual and natural beauty.

This year, several local choreographers made significant strides. This year saw more political content in the choreography. There was more risk-taking.

For example: Floorplay's fall concert, as well at UB's Zodiaque Dance Company, was almost completely devoted to politically charged material, including sexual politics. The typical gender roles in dance have finally caught up with the sexual revolution, as depicted in Beverly Duane's wife/victim in "White Guys." The undercurrent of tension provides for refreshing dramatic dialogue in movement.

A willingness to take risks with choreographic content and style opened up many avenues. The Buffalo Academy of Visual and Performing Arts' "Light From a Dark Canvas" reached for a new level with the subject matter and by simply bringing children into the performance/creative experience in a seriousway.

Choreographers such as Duane in "The Tempest" and "White Guys" and Keith Carcich in "The Exhibition" experimented with integrating other media, a holistic approach. It was the most exciting development on the local dance scene.

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