Tag Archives: LakeCities Ballet Theatre

Review: The Nutcracker, LakeCities Ballet Theatre

LBT dancers in the snow scene section of The Nutcracker. Photo: Nancy Loch Photography
LBT dancers in the snow scene section of The Nutcracker. Photo: Nancy Loch Photography

Live music makes this Nutcracker even sweeter!

LakeCities Ballet Theatre (LBT) continues its 30th anniversary season with its annual production of The Nutcracker ringing in the holiday spirit with strong dancing and live music.

This engaging and well-rounded performance, on Nov. 30 at the Marcus High School Auditorium in Flower Mound, Texas, featured creative storytelling, challenging choreography, amazing guest artists, and elaborate costuming and set designs. And topping it off, LBT invited the Lewisville Lake Symphony, led by Adron Ming, to perform Pyotr IIyich Tchailkovsky’s classic composition.

Upon entering the auditorium, one immediately noticed the twinkling lights and Christmas trees adorning the sides of the stage, as well as the Lewisville Lake Symphony tuning up for the opening party scene. Choreographing a scene like this –– with all the props and people required –– can sometimes be a real challenge.

LBT Artistic Director Kelly Lannin eliminated potential overcrowding by having performers enter the stage from the audience. Her organizational skills also showed in the performers’ military-precision formations and smooth transitions from the children’s dance to the adults. The movement Lannin used highlighted the company’s beautiful lines, proficient pointe work and confident poise. Even the youngest dancers knew how to lift out of their spine and work through the ankle when pointing their toes.

It’s during this party scene that sweet Clara (Carley Denton) receives her beloved nutcracker from her Godfather Drosselmeyer, played by the charming Kenn Wells. At 15, Denton is a more mature Clara, but she’s still able to capture the childlike essence of the character with the added bonus of more advanced technique.

The battle scene between the Nutcracker Prince (Ruben Gerding) and the Mouse King (Robert Stewart) was clean and clever. The sword play between Gerding and Stewart came across very natural and the audience thoroughly enjoyed the little comedic moments, including the Mouse King’s exaggerated dying scene.

The transition to the dreamy snow scene was well done and enhanced by dim lighting, wispy white tutus, and feather-soft movement. The dancers appeared to float across the stage in a series of fast leaps and turns. Even though the Snow King (Michael Eaton) and Snow Queen (Amanda Evans) had a couple of moments of disconnect during their pas de deux, it didn’t have a huge impact on their overall performance.

In the second act, choreographic and production surprises kept coming with the introduction of Julie Kent and Sascha Radetsky, courtesy of American Ballet Theatre, as the Sugar Plum Fairy and her Cavalier. Kent is the epitome of grace and elegance while Radetsky has a commanding stage presence. When sharing the stage with seasoned, world-class pros, such as Kent and Radetsky, it is imperative the other dancers try to match them in energy and movement quality. That was not a problem for LBT. The Spanish Chocolate dancers: Amanda Evans, Kendall Galey, Logan Lockhart, and Sophie Van Den Handel have been dancing together for years, and it shows in their timing and concise movement. Even though they’re at different heights and builds, their grande battements and arm placements were uniform.

Kendall Galey as the Dew Drop Fairy and Guest Artist Steven Loch. Photo: Nancy Loch Photography
Kendall Galey as the Dew Drop Fairy and Guest Artist Steven Loch. Photo: Nancy Loch Photography

The Arabian Coffee piece (Faith Jones and Shannon Beacham) was what one would expect: controlled over-the-head lifts and slow contorted shapes. The Chinese Tea section was slightly outshined by the live accompaniment, but the Russian Baba (Guest Artist Andre Harrington) made up for that with powerful tumbling skills that climaxed with the music.

The Waltz of the Flowers featured intricate weaving patterns and a beautiful partnership between Kendall Galey (Dew Drop Fairy) and Guest Artist Steven Loch. They both have infectious smiles and lovely technique. Kent and Radetsky’s effortless grande pas de deux was divine and the perfect note to end the show.

If LBT keeps moving in this direction, there’s no doubt it will be around for another 30 years.

This review was originally featured on www.WorldArtsToday.com.

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Review: LakeCities Ballet Theatre’s Coppelia

Madison McKay and Nigel Burgoine in LBT's Coppelia. Photo: Nancy Loch
Madison McKay and Nigel Burgoine in LBT’s Coppelia. Photo: Nancy Loch

ALL DOLLED UP

LakeCities Ballet Theatre closes its 2012-13 season with a well-executed version of Coppelia.

Lewisville — The LakeCities Ballet Theatre’s presentation of Coppelia Friday night at the Medical Center of Lewisville Grand Theater encompassed everything the company strives for: crisp technique, an innate sense of musicality and authentic storytelling.

Originally staged in Paris in 1870 by Arthur Saint-Leon with music by Leo Delibes, Coppelia tells the tale of soon-to-be-married Swanilda and Franz. Franz’s obsession with Coppelia who sits in the upstairs window of Dr. Coppelius’ house creates a rift with his future bride, but Swanilda is just as curious about the motionless girl. When opportunity knocks, Swanilda and her friends sneak into the house only to discover that Coppelia is actually a doll. When Dr. Coppelius returns Swanilda switches places with Coppelia to avoid getting caught. She then convinces Franz that she is really the one he loves and they live happily ever after.

Madison McKay and Steven Loch. Photo: Nancy Loch
Madison McKay and Steven Loch. Photo: Nancy Loch

Madison McKay played a delightful Swanilda. Her solid technique and intricate point work only enhanced her character’s strong, yet loveable personality. Even though her fast foot work appeared labored at times, her graceful lines and natural stage presence overshadowed all of that.

The chemistry between McKay and Pacific Northwest Ballet corps member Steven Loch (Franz) was evenly balanced. Both are powerful dancers with amazing stamina, which only enhanced the audiences’ anticipation for their pas de deux at the end of the show. We were not disappointed. Loch ate up the stage with his grande jetes and double tours en l’air while McKay dazzled with her pique turns sequence.

Guest artist Nigel Burgoine tied the whole performance together with his kooky and over-the-top interpretation of Dr. Coppelius.

Kelly Lannin and Allan Kinzie’s choreography throughout the show really played to the Company’s strengths. The group pieces in Act 1 and 3 contained a lot of fast movement taking the dancers through a maze of weaving patterns and direction changes that were both unexpected and visually pleasing. The choreographers also mixed in some adagio sequences to display the older company member’s superb control and seamless leg extensions.

LBT's presentation of Coppelia. Photo: Nancy Loch
LBT’s presentation of Coppelia. Photo: Nancy Loch

The scene in Dr. Coppelius’ house opened with a view of 12 beautifully costumed, perfectly still performers posing as dolls. While the story was captivating, the audience’s attention was drawn most to the still dolls in anticipation of a grand sequence that never really happened. While there were tastes of each doll’s quirky personality and staccato way of moving with each one occasionally coming to life, we wanted to see more.

Overall it was a very well-executed performance by LakeCities Ballet Theatre. The practically flawless technique, well-thought out and clean choreography and the understated, yet effective lighting and detailed set design made for a very enjoyable evening.

This review was originally posted on TheaterJones.com.

A Tasty Treat

The brides of Dracula in Act II. Photo: Nancy Loch

LakeCities Ballet Theatre delivers tricky technique and spooky surprises in Le Ballet de Dracula.

Lewisville — No one can resist a scary story involving weolas (bat-like creatures), vampire brides and Dracula. LakeCities Ballet Theatre drove this point home during its first sold-out performance of Le Ballet de Dracula Friday night at the Medical Center of Lewisville Grand Theater.

The story, created by Tom Rutherford, takes place in a small Transylvanian town where the villagers are celebrating the engagement of protagonists Marius (Ruben Gerding) and Aurelia (Bridget Polei). The luminous sets and festive period costumes in harvest hues emphasized the joyous occasion; as did the choreography by LBT Artistic Director Kelly Kilburn Lannin.

Ruben Gerding and Bridget Polei’s pas de deux in Act 1. Photo: Nancy Loch

Marius and Aurelia’s hopeful pas de deux was an ode to young love. Gerding and Polei’s dark features and casual elegance made them well-suited for one another. Gerding’s lifts were effortless and Polei’s assisted triple pirouettes and ponche arabesques were rock solid.

Along with classical ballet technique, Lannin also incorporated folk dance and contemporary as seen in the Romanian dancers and Gypsies dance segments. All these techniques came together for the climatic Maypole dance. Romanian dancers stomped, Gypsies strutted and Aurelia’s Friends floated their way around the Maypole, weaving in and out of each other holding bright-colored ribbons as they went. Happy to say no one faltered during this tricky pattern sequence.

Shannon Beachman as Dracula. Photo: Nancy Loch

The party took a dark turn when Count Dracula (Shannon Beacham) arrived with his minion Ratcliff (Asia Waters) to claim Aurelia as his bride. The dim lighting and ominous music set the scene for Beacham’s arrival. Every step and hand gesture appeared calculated adding to Dracula’s mysterious aura. He stayed only long enough to hypnotize Aurelia during an erringly-moving pas de deux before stealing her away in the night.

Menacing fog and a dungeon setting welcomed us to Dracula’s Castle in Act II. Underneath the fog rested the Brides of Dracula including head bride Marcela (Alexandria Loy). Shrill music filled the air as reaching hands appeared through the fog. Dressed in white flimsy gowns and tattered veils, the Brides gradually awoke. Marcela led the 14 other brides through a graceful yet disturbing pointe routine heightened by the brides’ hissing sounds and unblinking gazes. The performers’ classical training was evident in their controlled pointe work and body placement.

The final battle between Gerding and Beachman in Act II. Photo: Nancy Loch

The pivotal fight scene between Dracula and Marius was cleaner than in previous years. The timing of the punches and lifts were better, and the actual staking of Dracula was broken down to enhance dramatic effect.

From the unique story and challenging choreography to the fresh sets, clever lighting and creative costumes and make-up, LakeCities Ballet Theatre has reached new highs with its seventh annual production of Le Ballet de Dracula, which has repeat performances at 2 and 7:30 p.m. today.