Dance: The Great Leap Forward

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Ah, ballet. Gossamer goddesses tippy-toeing through the glades. Princes bounding about like young stallions. And then, after a twitter of arabesques, the embrace. Ecstasy.

Ah, nuts, says Choreographer Robert Joffrey. "I look upon ballet as total theater. I want to attack all the senses. I want my dancers to express my thing, the now thing, good or bad." Performing at Manhattan's City Center last week, the Joffrey Ballet nightly gave eye-dazzling testimony to that credo.

Running, bounding, diving, vaulting, cartwheeling and somersaulting, a dozen bare-chested male dancers in royal-blue tights flung...