If red is your color and tango is your dance, then it’s probably best to avoid “Red: The Passion of Tango.” The title of this Ajkun Ballet Theatre production, presented Sunday night at The Egg, is certainly misleading as the tango and the color red only make brief appearances.
On the contrary, this evening-length dance is a portrait — cast in black, yellow, blue and purple — of an oppressed society. Choreographed by artistic director Leonard Ajkun, with an introduction by his wife and partner, Chiara Ajkun, the ballet’s passion is a clawing desperation, a desire to be free from fear and poverty.
The ideas are told in a series of episodic encounters — some that are obtuse, others luminous. Unfortunately, the ballet does not combine to create a fluid or comprehensive sketch of the totalitarian society.
Some of the problem lies in the dancers themselves. While all are capable, they don’t dispense the necessary unity, nor do they brew a bubbling chemistry. The company, which draws from an international pool of young dancers, is a conglomerate of talents. Some of the dancers — like Geena Pacareu — are excellent, emotive talents. Others, like her partner, Royce Zackery, are not.
Her solo, in which she falls on her knees in despair, is the most memorable of all the chapters. But when paired with the clunky Zackery, her artfulness is tainted. With his costume riding up his back and showing his effort in the lifts, he is crude. (Unfortunately, she could not step out for a well-deserved curtain call as she collapsed in a diabetic shock right before the end of the show.)
The center figures of the ballet are Brittany Larrimer and Taylor Kindred. Larrimer, who dances the dramatic opener — red and tango — is a fine dancer who is ill-matched with the tall Kindred. He is the technically best danseur in the company, with clean lines and a bravura persona. But these two do not have any chemistry with each other either. He could have been dancing with a blow-up doll.
Marcello Bernard and Allyne King dance the couple in purple. She runs en pointe to him as he tumbles along the floor to her. They come closest to having a meaningful relationship, but their duet is puzzling.
While much of the ballet does not add up, there are some unambiguous moments, like the fight for milk, Larrimer’s being tied up like a marionette and the endless ensemble ride on the train. There are also some carefree sections like the yellow girls jumping rope and playing hopscotch. But the sections do not meld, making for a troublesome overall vision.
Mainly, “Red: The Passion of Tango” only stirs up mediocre feelings. There is little red, little tango and absolutely no passion. There is only mild indifference.
Ajkun Ballet Theatre will perform “Don Quixote” at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 11, at The Egg, Empire State Plaza. More information is available at 473-1845 or www.theegg.org.