New York Times Debute

DANCE REVIEW; Debut by Ballet Troupe With Roots in the Joffrey 

Pleasing crowds is no longer much in fashion. But the MorganScott Ballet Company, which made its New York debut on Friday night at the John Jay College theater, made a virtue of that lost art. The choreography was attractive and the dancers skillful and persuasive. But what stood out about the new venture was its sheer fun. If Edward Morgan and Daniel Scott could bottle the evening’s warmth and bubbling spirits, they would have no trouble raising money to keep their company going.

Mr. Morgan danced with the Joffrey Ballet for a decade and was a co-director of the recently disbanded Joffrey II Concert Dancers with Mr. Scott. It is clear from his choreography that Mr. Morgan knows his way around ballet. The performers were swept gently along in lyrical, ground-hugging waves of dance punctuated by high lifts in the group works ”Fiesta de Aranjuez,” set to music by Sor and Rodrigo, and ”Cheek to Cheek,” set to instrumental versions of songs associated with Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.

”Bach Oboe Concertos,” danced by Jennifer McKelvey and Joseph Alexander, and ”Timestravel,” performed by Daniella Cavaleri and Richard Toda to music by Michael Wimberly, were complementary pas de deux in the classical and contemporary ballet idioms. Mr. Morgan knows how to make his dancers look good, giving them plenty of delicate flourishes for their lyrical arms and fleeting emotional details that highlight the performers’ engaging way of relating to one another on the stage.

He placed Mr. Alexander high in the air on a rope crucifix in ”Spirit Bound,” a new solo conceived by Mr. Scott and set to music by Beethoven and Liszt. The image was startling, but the most interesting aspect of the piece was the way it communicated the hesitancy, panic and eventual serenity that might be felt by a man facing great suffering. The best came last, however, with ”Keep the Faith,” a stylized, cannily modulated new solo performed by the choreographer to rock-style gospel music that made one long to see much more of the powerful Mr. Morgan. The evening’s handsome lighting was by Chad McArver.

Mr. Toda and Jean Ledson Louis stood out for their charisma among the solo dancers in this 10-member troupe, Mr. Louis slipping through space like a mercurial sprite tilting into a strong wind. The company was completed by Nancy Spence, Abraham Miha, Karin Hein and Sara Jones. May it flourish and return soon.