It's ballet bonanza time in Manhattan, with our big troupes facing off at Lincoln Center and year-end recitals all around town. If you're tired of white tutus and pointe shoes, check out the offerings of Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet: six dances by emerging choreographers mostly based in Europe.

Cedar Lake, funded by Wal-Mart largesse, brings mostly new pieces to its Joyce season. The exception is Angelin Preljocaj's 1995 "Annonciation," a pristine rendering of the moment when the Virgin Mary discovers she's been picked to birth the son of God.

Paris-born Preljocaj casts the announcing angel as a female, creating a sharp, sensuous duet. With Stephane Roy's score punctuated by bits of Vivaldi's "Magnificat," the brief work perfectly evokes a stunning moment in the life of the young woman. Set, sound and lighting -- as well as fine performances by Acacia Schachte and Harumi Terayama -- combine to make "Annonciation" the show's highlight.

Hofesh Schecter, an Israeli now in London, contributes both steps and music for "Violet Kid," an overlong exercise in alienation for 14 dancers in casual clothing, stomping and writhing on a dark stage while a live string trio plays in the air above their heads. Another mob wears unisex suits in Crystal Pite's "Grace Engine," where exotic lighting strategies by Jim French and Owen Belton's industrial score punctuate the comings and goings of the crowd. Her noir-ish exercise has more human encounters than Schechter's piece, but the overall effect is a similar blur.


Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet

Through May 27

Joyce Theater

175 Eighth Ave.

$10-$69, 212-242-0800

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