Balanchine celebration

Like the ''Prodigal Son'' that it was presenting, the Boston Ballet in many ways returned to the fold last weekend. After a rather inauspicious season-opening ''Giselle,'' the company reignited its esprit de corps with a vibrant ''Balanchine Celebration'' at the Wang Center for Performing Arts.

Leading the revival was Christopher Aponte, whose emotionally exhausting performance as the Prodigal must have pleased the man who first danced the role - Edward Villella (whom the company had brought in to coach this production). When Aponte, bruised and beaten, crawled and scratched his way back home in the third scene, the crowd was crawling with him, and when he arrived, the hall erupted with applause.

Another heartening aspect of the evening was the dancing of the male corps, especially in ''Scotch Symphony,'' the 1952 Balanchine work that opened the evening. While Karl Condon, Christian Zimmerman, and others bounded about in their handsome green tartans, Diedre Myles took center stage in a brilliant red tartan, and her dancing matched her color - bright, zesty, and fiery.

In ''Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux,'' Frank Augustyn finally got the opportunity to prove his status as a danseur de noble. Dancing with Marie-Christine Mouis, who is clearly the company's leading female today, the two swept across the stage with sparkling solos and elegant partnering.

Unfortunately, the program ended on a down note, the ensemble failing to find the angular, modern spirit of Balanchine's ''Capriccio for Piano and Orchestra.'' Still, it was a fine evening, lending hope to the future of this company.

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