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Ballet Nouveau Colorado


Ballet Nouveau Colorado's 2011 Nutcracker - Sumptuous, Virtuoso, and Fun

As I have said before, just maybe Nutcrackers are about and for kids. For kids to watch, and for kids and young dancers to perform in as a step toward fulfilling dance dreams. As a company with a great school, Ballet Nouveau Colorado (BNC) is well suited to that paradigm, in that their school produces wonderful artists from age about four to teenagers, which they use to fill out a production like Nutcracker. Even as their sterling professional company inhabits the major roles. The 2011 World Dance Reviews Nutcracker Tour took us to BNC's Nutcracker on opening night - December 9 - at what was known as the Pinnacle Center, now The Performing Arts Complex at PCS. BNC's Nutcracker provides audiences stunning sets and a production ably coordinated by Eleanor Moriarty, exciting lighting by Vance McKenzie, beautiful costumes provided by Catherine Strecker, and of course Tchaikovsky's familiar music. However, the best part is the dancing as choreographed by Garrett Ammon and Dawn Fay (with credit to Marius Petipa and maybe lots of Balanchine) and the ways that choreography is inhabited by dancers from the BNC School, as Directed by Julia Wilkinson Manley, and BNC's sensational company.

In this performance Brooke Gilliam was a wonderful Clara and Antonio Houck the soldier who destroyed the evil Mouse King - Peter Doll - and became Clara's attentive Nutcracker Prince. Parker Long was delightfully mean and mischievous as Fritz. Damien Patterson performed an oh-so-believable sly and magic Uncle Drosselmeyer, using his amazing movement abilities to keep Fritz in check, captivate Clara and the audience, and create a magical world of dancing toys, fairies, and wonder.

Ammon and Fay moved just far enough away from what I see as traditional Nutcrackers to make the often too-long first act much more interesting than it usually is. That act ended with the Snowflake Ballet, as danced mostly by students from the BNC School, with Marian Faustino as a delightful Snow Queen spectacularly partnered by her King, Ben Delony. In both Acts I and II Angela-Momo Sakai was a lovely Columbine Doll, Sarah Jansen the Harlequin Doll, and Skyler Greenwald the Soldier Doll. All three of those performers maintained the mechanical nature of being a doll while still existing as ballet dancers.

Act II opened showing that even the youngest of BNC's School has well trained dancers as the Angels and Little Angels inhabited the stage - and later as Chinese Dancers, Mother Ginger, and Bonbons. BNC company members came back from Act I as Spanish Dancers - Ben Delony and Julie King - Arabian Dancers - Marian Faustino and Damien Patterson - a Chinese Soloist - Colby Foss - Mirlitons - Peter Doll and Julia Meng - and a Russian dancer - Corbin Kalinowski.

The BNC School "elders" were lovely flowers. The showstoppers for this performance resided in Meredith Strathmeyers's Dew Drop and in Sarah Tallman's Sugar Plum Fairy with her Cavalier Brandon "Private" Freeman. Tallman moved with confidence and grace, and Freeman gave her the strength in partnering to make her stunning. This was aided by Tallman's amazing stage presence, and her ability to connect with any audience, using even momentary focus on them to captivate every single person. The pas de deux was all it could be and Freeman's variation was filled with amazing leaps and virtuosity. Strathmeyer's inhabitation of the Dew Drop role was perfected by her just being Meredith Strathmeyer, with all her grace, beauty and virtuosity.

There are many more performances of this Nutcracker and you can get all the information you need at One nice thing about the Pinnacle Center is that there is oodles of FREE parking.

Donald K. Atwood

© Copyright World Dance Reviews 2011

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