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Colorado Ballet Keeps Nutcracker Fresh
There are those who are somewhat jaded and say a Nutcracker performance is not anything more than another Nutcracker. But, Colorado Ballet adds just enough new twists to the holiday classic to make it fresh. That and the sumptuous sets and costumes, along with the delightful dancing in the current production of Colorado Ballet's 2012 Nutcracker is enough for anyone to go see it at the Elie Calkins Opera House, in Denver. The show runs through December 24th and show times are on the Colorado Ballet website - http://www.coloradoballet.org. And you can buy tickets from the site as well.
The Sunday December 2nd matinee opened with Gregory Gonzales as Uncle Drosselmeyer in front of the curtain where he shared with the audience what his gift to Clara would be. In subsequent scenes Gonzales commanded virtually the whole space on each entrance, and was wonderfully magical. Fritz, danced by Kevin Gael Thomas, was mischievous on cue, and performed wonderful leaping dances with guests of the first act party scene. That party scene was rich with young dancers from Colorado Ballet's school. Fritz of course broke the nutcracker gift to Clara (danced by Caitlin Valentine-Ellis) from Drosselmeyer/Gonzales, and Gonzales magically put it back together.
On cue Drosselmeyer/Gonzales treated the party to entertainment by presenting a doll - danced wonderfully by Cara Cooper - and a soldier doll - danced very martial artsy by Sean Omandam. As the party closed, and the guests left, the mice invaded in various leaping ways much to Clara's concern and fright. Soldiers marched and rode horses as they mustered to fight the mice and a foreboding Mouse King (danced evilly by Christopher Moulton). The mice were defeated only when Drosselmeyer entered a castle with the nutcracker gift and in a flash of light and explosion the Nutcracker Prince - danced by Jesse Marks - appeared to the battle scene in a wonderful but scary nutcracker mask. That prince soon did the Mouse King in. And as he died, Moulton carefully prepared a place to fall upon, and was carried off by his loyal mice to leave the Nutcracker Prince and Clara alone. Once Marks' mask was off, he and Valentine-Ellis danced a lovely duet, with high lifts that were breathtaking.
As it always does the ballet continued on through snowy lands with delightful dances by the Crystals and Snow, and with repeated entrances by Valentine-Ellis and Marks. Marks eventually carried Valentine-Ellis offstage left, only to reappear flying to a magical land in a sleigh, but behind a scrim.
Kevin Gael Thomas returned in Act II with Casey Dalton as the Spanish Dancers. Cara Cooper and Christopher Moulton danced the Arabian adagio well. Sean Omandam was a delightful pole vaulting Chinese, accompanied by a wonderful dragon made up of Daniel Grezlak, Rony Lenis, and Jeremey Studinski, said dragon turning on cues from Moulton. Olga Prikhodtseva and Rylan Scwab were convincing Russians. Rony Lewis made the huge Mother Ginger work in mirthful ways as Beatriz Kuperus performed as her legs. The Ponchinelles were danced ably and filled the stage as they were supposed to do.
In the Dance of the Flowers Asuka Sasaki fulfilled expectations and was wonderful as Dew Drop. Chandra Kuykendall danced the role of the Sugar Plum Fairy and Dmitry Trubchanov her Cavalier. Their beginning duet seemed "stiff" - perfect, but without emotion. In there pas de deux those emotions reappeared - somewhat. Trubchanov's second variation was stunning.
If you want to find the Holiday Spirit, try seeing the Colorado Ballet's Nutcracker. Information on dates and tickets is given above. It is worth the time and cost.
Donald K. Atwood