Tag Archives: Dallas Youth Ballet

Review: Dallas Youth Ballet’s Rockefeller Christmas Spectacular

Dallas Youth Ballet channels The Rockettes in its highly entertaining Rockefeller Christmas Spectacular at Dallas City Performance Hall.

Dallas Youth Ballet in Rockefeller Christmas Spectacular. Photo: Sharen Bradford/The Dancing Image

Dallas — While most pre-professional dance companies in the area are focusing solely on their balletic form during this time of year the Dallas Youth Ballet, comprised of students at Park Cities Dance (PCD) and The Dallas Conservatory, is honing a wide range of skills from acting and singing to Broadway, contemporary and ballet dance stylings, which the company efficiently and enthusiastically put on display at its seventh annual Rockefeller Christmas Spectacular at Dallas City Performance Hall on Sunday.

The Rockettes-inspired dances and festive Christmas caroling in the first half were a welcomed reprieve from the multiple Nutcrackerproductions currently being offered across Dallas-Fort Worth. Choreographer and PCD Artistic Director Jacqueline Porter and her band of Santas, soldiers, elves, ballerinas and candy canes set the pace for the show with a fun and flashy opening number entitled A Rockefeller Christmas. Dressed in sparkly red dresses edged with white faux fur and donning black character shoes, the 10 Santa dancers did a commendable job of channeling the Radio City Music Hall Rockettes with their regimented formations, clean upper body lines and clear foot work as they mined classic tap moves, including time steps, drawbacks and Shirley Temples (also known as Broadways). Audiences actually felt like they were at Rockefeller Center thanks to a vibrant backdrop Porter was able to rent, thus completing the overall effect of a New York Christmas.

The acoustics in the Dallas City Performance Hall did a nice job of picking up the Dallas Conservatory’s Children’s Singing Ensemble sweet harmonies and distinct enunciation as they charmed audiences with some fun holiday ditties, including “The Man with the Bag,” “All I Want for Christmas” and “White Christmas.” Music Director Lynn Ambrose also incorporated some basic tap steps in “The Man with the Bag” and cutesy gesturing in “All I Want for Christmas.” Student Allyson Guba also showed dynamic range and stage presence as she sang a hauntingly beautiful version of “Christmas Lullaby.”

In “Santa Claus is Coming to Town,” the 10 dancers’ showcased an abundance of shakes, shimmies and sass so as to not be outdone by the song’s energetic pace and bold musical accents. In today’s dance world where tricks and flexibility are taking priority over strength building and technical foundation work, audiences were pleased to see simple jazz walks, sharp flicks and kicks and a variety of beveled foot poses scattered throughout the routine.

In Cool Yule 10 dancers performed an exuberant 42nd Street-inspired number complete with shimmery dresses and character taps and featuring classic tap steps, including running flappes, wings, drawbacks and time steps. And while slightly darker than the other numbers with its aggressive contemporary movements and relentless running patterns, Clair Culin’s Pursuit kept inside the Christmas genre with a fast-tempo instrumental version of “Carol of the Bells.”

Photo: Sharen Bradford/The Dancing Image

Choreographers Porter, Culin, Haylee Bargainer and Olga Pavlova had the daunting task of blending multiple skills levels into the second half of the show, which started with Act 2 of The Nutcracker where Clara enters the Sugar Plum Palace and ended with the Sugar Plum Fairy (Rachel Rohrich) and Cavalier’s (Arron Scott, American Ballet Theatre) grand pas de deux. Bargainer accomplished this feat with simple tendues, plies, and epaulement arm gestures for the itty bitty dancers in the Spanish, Arabian and Chinese corp roles. The result was a darling mass of clumsy cuteness adorned with sparkly costumes and tiaras.

The Snowflakes’ movement in the opening number of the second half lacked some of the bounciness and rhythmic nuances typically associated with this dance segment, but the dancers made up for this with some lovely cascading arms gestures and interweaving pathways and alternating circular formation changes. And while her pointe work came across clunky at times, particularly in the landings of her jumps, Julie Shilling did display impressive musical timing and technical fortitude in her consecutive pique and chaine turns in her Snow Queen solo.

Kali Kleiman’s nimble feet and angelic features made her an ideal choice for the role of Clara. Her natural grace and childlike giddiness showed through her fluttering bourrées and springy petit jumps and jete leaps.

The Arabian, Russian and Chinese variations were clean, yet not as choreographically imaginative as some of the other dances in the show. Margot Tortolani (age 14) did an admirable job as the Dew Drop Fairy, drawing out the musical phrases with slow descending arms in her tour jetes and travelling balances as well as her leg lines inarabesque. The flower corp, including company members Claira Russell, Dani Van Creveld, Eden Ryder, Emma Odom, Michelle Arriaga, Summer Sexton, Taylor Waller and Shilling executed some of the most challenging technique of the night with multiple turning sequences and constantly changing epaulement positions to complement their crisp pointe work.

Photo: Sharen Bradford/The Dancing Image

The biggest surprise of the night was 14-year-old Rohrich’s professional-quality interpretation of the Sugar Plum Fairy. Rochrich’s airy arm movements and punctuating pointe work were enhanced by Scott’s trusting presence and strong hand holds in the partnering sections. And while Rohrich could have used her breath more to release some tension in the shoulders, she stayed rhythmically invested in the movement even after her music cut out during her solo.

This review was originally posted on TheaterJones.com.






Sometimes You Feel Like a Nut

Photo: Ellen Appel Texas Ballet Theater's The Nutcracker
Photo: Ellen Appel
Texas Ballet Theater’s The Nutcracker

The holiday season is upon us, and you know what that means: The Nutcracker. Here’s our round-up of local Nutcrackers, plus non-Nut holiday dance.

It’s the holidays, and in the dance world, that means nuts are about to be crackin’ all over the place. North Texas will be filled with performances of The Nutcracker, which means box offices will be singing, parents and grandparents will be thrilled at seeing their kids in the party scene, and little girls will see the Sugar Plum Fairy and be inspired to take ballet lessons.

Beginning this weekend, as the Moscow Ballet returns, you can see at least one performance of The Nutcracker each weekend if you like, right up through a few days before Christmas. We’ve also included some pretty different takes on The Nut, as the dancers call it, from theater outfits Dallas Children’s Theater (marionettes!) and MBS Productions (burlesque!).

And, because there are a few brave dance companies out there willing to do a holiday dance production sans the Snow Queen, we’ve also included the few non-Nut shows.


Denton City Contemporary Ballet presents A Gift for Emma Nov. 22 – 24 at Krum High School Performance Center in Krum, Texas. Ticket Office: www.dentondance.com

Contemporary Ballet Dallas presents a Boogie Woogie Christmas Carol, inspired by the Dickens tale, Dec. 7 at Southern Methodist University’s McFarlin Auditorium. Ticket Office:www.contemporaryballetdallas.com

Dallas Metropolitan Ballet presents The Night Before Christmas Dec. 14 – Dec. 15 at Southern Methodist University’s McFarlin Auditorium in Dallas. Tickets: $10 – $40. Ticket Office: www.ticketmaster.com or call 214-631-2787 or 817-467-2787

Epiphany DanceArts presents Christmas Memories Dec. 20-21 at the Eisemann Center for Performing Arts in Richardson, Texas. Tickets: $15 – $29. Ticket Office:www.epiphanydancearts.org or call 972-744-4650


Moscow Ballet brings back The Great Russian Nutcracker to Dallas Nov. 15 and Nov. 17 at Southern Methodist University’s McFarlin Auditorium. Tickets: $28. Ticket Office: www.nutcracker.com or call 800-320-1733

Ballet Frontier of Texas presents its rendition of The Nutcracker Nov. 22 – 23 at the Will Rogers Auditorium in Fort Worth, Texas. Tickets: $25. Ticket Office: www.balletfrontier.org

MBS Productions returns with its annual revival of the comedy The Beulaville Baptist Book Club Presents a Bur-Less-Q Nutcracker, in which a burlesque troupe saves the day in a small Texas town by performing the holiday classic. Nov 23-Dec. 29 at the Stone Cottage on the campus of the Addison Theatre Centere. Tickets: $18-$27. Ticket Office: www.mbsproductions.net

Chamberlain Performing Arts presents The Nutcracker featuring New York City Ballet principal dancers Tiler Peck and Tyler Angle Nov. 29 – Dec. 1 at the Eisemann Center for Performing Arts in Richardson, Texas. Ticket Office: www.eisemanncenter.com or call 972-744-4650

Texas Ballet Theater presents Ben Stevenson’s The Nutcracker which runs Nov. 29 – Dec. 8 at the Winspear Opera House in Dallas and Dec. 13 – 27 at Bass Performance Hall in Fort Worth. Ticket Office: www.texasballettheater.org

Kathy Burks Theatre of Puppetry Art’s presents its interpretation of The Nutcracker Nov. 29 – Dec. 22 at the Dallas Children’s Theater in Dallas. Tickets: $13 – $40. Ticket Office: www.dct.org or call 214-740-0051

Photo: Karen Almond Kathy Burks Theatre of Puppetry Arts' The Nutcracker at Dallas Children's Theater
Photo: Karen Almond
Kathy Burks Theatre of Puppetry Arts’ The Nutcracker at Dallas Children’s Theater

LakeCities Ballet Theatre’s rendition of The Nutcracker runs Nov. 30 – Dec. 1 at Marcus High School in Flower Mound, Texas, and Dec. 14 – 15 at Little Elem Recreation Center. Ticket Office: www.lakecitiesballet.com

Momentum Dance Company does The Nutcracker with guests Michele Gifford, Shea Johnson and Bruce Coleman. Nov. 29-Dec. 1 at the Irving Arts Center. Tickets: $15-$25. Ticket Office: www.irvingartscenter or call 972-252-2787

Dallas Ballet Company will be celebrating its 27th annual performance of The Nutcracker Dec. 6 – Dec. 8 at the Granville Arts Center in Garland, Texas. Tickets: $23. Ticket Office: www.garlandarts.com or call 972-205-2790

The Dallas Youth Ballet presents The Nutcracker Dec. 7 at the new Dallas City Performance Hall in the Dallas Arts District. Tickets: $15 – $35. Ticket Office: www.thedallasconservatory.org or call 214-357-8888

The Ballet Ensemble of Texas brings its rendition of The Nutcracker to the Irving Arts Center Dec. 7 – 8. Tickets: $21-$26. Ticket Office: www.irvingartscenter or call 972-252-2787

The Dallas Repertoire Ballet presents The Nutcracker Dec.13-15 at the Eisemann Center for Performing Arts in Richardson, Texas. Tickets: $15 – $50. Ticket Office: www.eisemanncenter.com or call 972-744-4650

Festival Ballet of North Central Texas will be performing The Nutcracker Dec. 14 – 15 at the Margo Jones Performance Hall at Texas Woman’s University in Denton, Texas. Tickets: $11 – $36. Ticket Office: www.festivalballet.net or call 940-891-0830

For a more adult Nutcracker performance Texas Ballet Theater offers The Nutty Nutcracker, a collaborative work between artistic staff and dancers featuring hot topics of the past 12 months. The performance is slated for Dec. 20 at Bass Performance Hall in Fort Worth. Ticket Office: www.texasballettheater.org

Tuzer Ballet presents The Nutcracker Dec. 21-22 at the Eisemann Center for Performing Arts in Richardson, Texas. Tickets: $15 – $50. Ticket Office: www.eisemanncenter.com or call 972-744-4650

The Allen Civic Ballet presents its 15th anniversary production of The Nutcracker Dec. 21 – Dec. 22 at the Performing Arts Center at Allen High School. Tickets: $15 – $30. Ticket Office: www.allencivicballet.org

Collin County Ballet Theatre presents The Nutcracker Dec. 23-24 at the Eisemann Center for Performing Arts in Richardson, Texas. Tickets: $15 – $75. Ticket Office: www.eisemanncenter.com or call 972-744-4650

This roundup was originally posted on TheaterJones.com.