Ballet Frontier of Texas delivers a simple yet entertaining rendition of The Nutcracker.
Fort Worth — That wonderful time of year also known as Nutcracker season continued this past weekend with Ballet Frontier of Texas’ presentation of The Nutcracker at the Will Rogers Auditorium.
Under the direction of Chung-Lin Tseng, Ballet Frontier gave a commendable performance that started off with a shaky party scene, but gained momentum in the snow scene and finished with a captivating second act largely attributed to the beautifully executed pas de deux by the Sugar Plum Fairy (Lainey Logan) and Cavalier (Paul Adams), both dancers with Texas Ballet Theater. (The performance reviewed was Saturday; the cast was slightly different on Friday night, with former TBT dancer Tseng as the Cavalier, which was his final major role to dance as he’s retiring from dancing.)
It’s no easy task to wrangle the 20-something children in the opening party scene, but choreographers Roy Tobias and Tseng did an admiral job with clean, rudimentary ballet steps and visually pleasing formation changes. The pointe work of the three dolls could have been stronger, but lead Clara (Rebekah Harrington) made up for that with her charming personality, lovely lines and extremely arched feet.
The new Christmas tree backdrop by set designer Anne Jones was a welcomed addition to the otherwise dated ballroom scenery. It was also easy to overlook the complacent dancing of the adult partygoers when the children were so enthusiastically skipping around the stage. While the fight scene between the Nutcracker and the Rat King was a little rough around the edges, it did have a clever concept that was engaging to the audience.
The skill and artistry of the dancers flourished as the performance transitioned to the snow scene. Here, the Snow Fairies dazzled in wispy white tutus and jeweled-encrusted leotards. Their innate sense of timing only made the dreamy movement and luscious pointe work more spellbinding. The icing on the cake was the refreshingly classical dancing of the Snow King and Queen, Ballet Frontier of Texas Principal Dancers Andrey Prikhodko and Marina Goshko. Their overall gracefulness and effortless partnering is what the younger company members should aspire too.
While the second act did contain some musical timing glitches, that didn’t stop the dancers from giving an energetic and technically proficient performance. In this scene Clara and her prince (Andrew Coffey) watch as couples from all around the Kingdom of Sweets came forward to show off their native dances. Dallas Black Dance Theatre guest artists Jamie Thompson (Spanish couple), Derrick Smith (Arabian couple) and Christopher McKenzie (Russian couple) stood out with their commanding stage presence and technical prowess.
The highly anticipated Arabian dance lacked some of the acrobatics it is known for, but the visually stimulating use of the over large piece of translucent fabric combined with the over-head lifts enhanced the air of mystery in the dance.
And of course Lainey Logan (a personal favorite) and Paul Adams’ exquisite pas de deux at the end wrapped up the performance in a nice tight bow. Logan’s powerful core enabled her to execute multiple turns without mishap and hold those lengthy pique arabesques without assistance if she desired. Adams was there for her at every turn and really got the audience going with his gravity-defying leaps.
The big surprise of the evening came from prince Andrew Coffey, whose elongated lines and controlled landings made him look like a younger version of Adams. With some more time and training he will be someone to watch out for.
This review was originally posted on TheaterJones.com.