Monday, December 5, 2011
Dance review: The Nutcracker by Texas Ballet Theater at the Winspear Opera House
While still a classic and standard take on the story, the scenes managed to squeeze in a few elements of the unexpected.
DALLAS Ben Stevenson, the award-gilded, British artistic director of the Texas Ballet Theater, pulled out all of the visual stops on Friday evening at the Winspear Opera House with his color-saturated interpretation of the classical ballet The Nutcracker.
Officially ushering in the holiday season, the nearly-sold-out show was attended primarily by the usual suspects of mothers and grandmothers introducing their soon-to-be prima ballerinas to a big stage production.
While still a classic and standard take on the story, set in the time of its composer, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, the scenes managed to squeeze in a few elements of the unexpected. Shocks of color, oversized props, and exaggerated costuming proved hallmarks of Stevenson’s version of the age-old Christmas tradition production.
Act I exhibited the most wow-factor during the Stahlbaum family Christmas party, the mysterious Dr. Drosselmeyer’s introduction between Clara and her Nutcracker, a battle with the Rat King, and pre-intermission visit to the Snow Queen.
Act II, where the Sugar Plum Kingdom overflowed with pinks and purples, proved the pièce de résistance, showcasing truly remarkable choreography and dance talent.
The Spanish, Arabian, and Chinese dancers brought to entertain young Clara during her stay with the Sugar Plum Fairy were awe-inspiring as long legs precisely executed flawless pirouettes in rapid succession.
Solo dances and couple duets stole the show, as group choreography came off a bit messy and showcased the company’s weakness in the area of synchronization.
Stevenson’s main accomplishment with this presentation was simply the magical feeling of wonderment infused back into a ballet that, through its annual appearance, can often become mundane or mechanical.
Perhaps like plenty of children in the audience, I found myself longing to be a Sugar Plum Fairy. Watching the effortless grace with which these fresh-faced ballerinas pliéd across the stage into the arms of the tights-wearing Prince Charmings, I found it hard to suppress the resurrection of my childhood fantasies of life as a Sugar Plum Fairy. It was a wonderful and whimsical trip down memory lane.
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