Showing posts with label Ballet West. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ballet West. Show all posts

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Nutcracker 2016

The holidays will be upon us very soon and I am not ready! I spent most of the afternoon yesterday rushing around trying to check some items off my long to-do list and, frankly, I'm a little bit stressed out. Last night, however, I took some time out to enjoy one of my very favorite holiday traditions: a production of The Nutcracker by Ballet West. It was the perfect antidote to my stress because as soon as I heard the first notes of Tchaikovsky's magnificent score, I settled into my seat knowing it would be a lovely evening. I've seen this ballet so many times you might think that it would get old, but it just makes me anticipate every scene even more! I love it when the Christmas tree grows to giant proportions, I love it when the toy nutcracker turns into a handsome prince, I love it when the Snow Queen dances with all of her snowflakes, I love all of the divertissements provided by the Sugar Plum Fairy for Clara's enjoyment (especially the Arabian dance and the Russian dance), and, most of all, I love the Grand Pas de Deux between the Sugar Plum Fairy and her Cavalier because it is so incredibly romantic. I got to see someone new dance the role of the Sugar Plum Fairy last night, Sayaka Ohtaki, and she was absolutely beautiful and danced the role magnificently. The entire production is magical, from Tchaikovsky's incomparable music, to William Christensen's classic choreography, to the stunning sets and opulent costumes. If The Nutcracker has ever been one of your holiday traditions, I suggest that you try to see one of the remaining performances (go here for tickets) to bid a fond farewell to the current production. In 2017, Ballet West will debut a whole new production complete with new sets, costumes, and special effects, which is exciting but also a little bit bittersweet. I have certainly enjoyed the current production for a very long time and I especially enjoyed it last night!

Note:  My friend's daughter performed as one of the Ladies in Waiting last night.  It was so fun to be able to see her and she did a wonderful job!

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Ballet West's Romeo and Juliet

Last night I saw Ballet West's beautiful production of Romeo and Juliet at Capitol Theatre. The story is based on the well known Shakespearean tragedy and features music composed by Sergei Prokofiev and choreography by John Cranko. I loved it! Even though Romeo and Juliet is not my favorite play, Prokofiev's dramatic score gave me goosebumps, especially during the Capulets' ball, and the choreography is absolutely riveting. The ensemble scenes in the marketplace are athletic, playful, and so much fun to watch; the sword fights between the Capulets and the Montagues are tense and passionate; and the three central pas de deux between Romeo and Juliet are incredibly romantic and I frequently found myself holding my breath, especially during the balcony scene and the bedroom scene. I was very impressed with the principal cast. One of the most powerful moments on stage is when Lady Capulet (Katlyn Addison) mourns over the body of Tybalt (Ronald Tilton) and climbs on to his funeral bier. Addison (who has become one of my favorite dancers because she reminds me of my niece, Tashena) gives an incredible performance filled with palpable despair. I also enjoyed Christopher Sellars' performance as Mercutio (he was greeted with thunderous applause during the final bows) because he is so charismatic. I loved it when he kisses a peasant girl as he lays dying. Rex Tilton, as Romeo, and Sayaka Ohtaki, as Juliet, dance their roles beautifully. Their pas de deux are quite acrobatic but they make them look effortless, graceful, and very emotional. This was one of the most ambitious Ballet West productions I've seen (with 75 cast members, 250 costumes, a 50-piece orchestra, and several elaborate sets) and it was quite impressive! I thought it was absolutely lovely!  Unfortunately, the run ended last night but you can go here to see upcoming Ballet West performances.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Ballet West's The Nutcracker

Seeing a performance of The Nutcracker is a cherished holiday tradition for me and I look forward to it all year. It simply wouldn't be Christmas without it.  I saw the beloved classic last night and I think I enjoyed it even more than I usually do! This year marks the 60th Anniversary (I haven't been attending for that long) of William Christensen's brilliant choreography set to the incomparable score by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky so there was definitely a degree of nostalgia as I watched all of the familiar scenes. Yet, there was also an unexpected thrill of excitement because I got to see some new interpretations (I am so used to Christopher Ruud and Christiana Bennett performing the Sugar Plum Fairy and her Cavalier, either individually or together) of some iconic roles.  The Grand Pas de Deux performed by the Sugar Plum Fairy and her Cavalier is my favorite moment in the entire ballet (I think Tchaikovsky's music for this scene is the most romantic in the entire classical cannon) and I thought Emily Adams and Rex Tilton danced it beautifully.  It gave me goosebumps!  Even though I have seen this ballet countless times, I still get caught up in the excitement of the party scene as the Christmas tree is unveiled for the children, I marvel at the transformation of the nutcracker into a handsome prince, and I take delight in the various divertissements arranged by the Sugar Plum Fairy for Clara and the prince (especially the Arabian variation and the Russian variation). It was a lovely evening made even more so by a large group of teenagers sitting near me who were absolutely enchanted by it.  If you haven't experienced this holiday tradition for yourself, I highly encourage you to do so.  Go here for tickets.  The Nutcracker runs at Capitol Theatre until Dec. 27.

Note:  This year Ballet West cast Katlyn Addison as the first African-American Sugar Plum Fairy in the organization's history. I was thrilled by this news because my niece is a dancer and she might play the Sugar Plum Fairy some day!  I wish that I could have seen her!

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Utah Arts Festival 2015

Every year Tashena performs with CDT (Children's Dance Theatre which is the performing arm of the Tanner Dance Program at the University of Utah) at the Utah Arts Festival and I always try to attend.  This year I decided not to go because it was going to be incredibly hot but then I had several agents schedule appointments to show my house (I've had quite a few showings but no offers yet) at the last minute yesterday so I changed my mind.  Even though it was so blasted hot, I'm really glad I went because I always love watching Tashena dance.  One must have a game plan for the festival because it can be overwhelming, especially with such large crowds.  I like to walk around for an hour looking at the artwork on display.  This year there was a 3D chalk artist who was amazing.  Then I like to head to the festival stage to claim a seat before it gets too crowded.  CDT performed Crumb and the Pirates once again and I really enjoyed it.  Tashena is in the dance "Fog" and I especially liked it when the dancers circled Crumb's boat.  They really moved like fog!  After CDT performs, I like to check out all of the food vendors and grab something to eat back at the festival stage to wait for Ballet West's performance.  Once again, I opted for the garlic burger and fresh cut fries.  For the past several years, Ballet West has followed CDT and it always amazes me that Tashena dances on the same stage as world-class dancers!  Four of the dancers from Ballet West performed three pieces: two choreographed by Christopher Ruud and one by his father, Tomm.  Ruud is definitely my favorite dancer with Ballet West and I always enjoy watching him on stage.  I think he is an incredibly athletic and intense dancer.  Even though I was a dripping and disheveled mess by the time I made it to my car, I saw two excellent performances and had one of the best burgers I've ever had.  Not too shabby!  The Utah Arts Festival concludes today at Library Square downtown and I recommend going (even in the heat) because there are lots of live performances, activities for the kids, great food, and row after row of booths featuring amazing art.  Go here for more information.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Almost Tango

Last night I went to a thrilling performance of three ballets featuring the amazing dancers of Ballet West. The first ballet was Square Dance which I really enjoyed because I found it to be highly amusing. While the choreography, costumes, and music (various selections from Vivaldi) were very classical, all of the steps were prompted by a caller on stage, who just happened to be Ballet West Artistic Director Adam Sklute!  He was absolutely hilarious because he made the traditional ballet steps sound as if they were being performed at a hoedown.  My very favorite phrase was, "Make your feet go whackety-whack!"  I also really liked, "Watch her twirl. Watch her whirl. My but she's a pretty girl." The solo performed by Rex Tilton was wonderful (he is very easy on the eyes, too). The next ballet was Almost Tango and it was my favorite of the three. The choreography was very innovative, the lighting was dramatic, and the performances were sensuous.  I absolutely loved all of the music in this piece but I also thought it was striking when there were interludes of dancing without music. One of the main soloists was Christiana Bennett. She has been one of my very favorite members of Ballet West for years and she is retiring after this season. I am really happy that I got to see her dance so beautifully one last time. The final ballet was In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated.  The music in this piece was very industrial and rhythmic, sometimes even jarring, and I thought the choreography was incredibly athletic.  It almost seemed like a spontaneous dance-off in a club. The performances were outstanding, especially the featured soloists. If you don't already know this, let me tell you now that Christopher Ruud is amazing!  His performances are always riveting and whenever he is on the stage it is difficult for me to see any other dancer but him.  I thoroughly enjoyed all of these ballets and I recommend that you get a ticket to one of the few remaining performances (go here), especially if you want to see Christiana Bennett one last time!

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Swan Lake

Last night I attended Ballet West's production of Swan Lake.  I almost didn't go because I thought nothing could compare to the performance I saw of this ballet in Russia.  While seeing such a quintessentially Russian ballet performed in the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg will always be one of the most magical experiences of my life, I'm really glad I got to see Ballet West's version.  It was absolutely wonderful! Prince Siegfried goes into the woods to hunt and aims his bow at a swan who becomes a beautiful woman named Odette.  She explains that she is a swan by day and a woman at night because she is under the spell of an evil sorcerer, the Baron von Rothbert. Only true love can break the spell but, as the sun comes up, Odette reverts back to a swan and Siegfried returns home to celebrate his birthday with a grand ball.  Many princesses vie for his attention because he must marry to inherit the throne.  He ignores them, thinking only of Odette.  Suddenly, Rothbert enters the ballroom with his daughter Odile, who looks exactly like Odette.  Thinking that she is Odette, Siegfried declares his love to Odile.  When Rotherbert reveals his treachery, Siegfried rushes to Odette to beg forgiveness which she grants.  They eventually find a way to defeat Rothbert and end the spell in a very dramatic ending.  Beau Pearson, as Siegfried, and Christiana Bennett (one of my favorite Ballet West dancers), as Odette/Odile, danced their roles beautifully and I especially loved their Pas de Deux. I also really enjoyed the Swan Maidens because they were so synchronized with very elaborate formations and the Hungarian dance at Siegfried's ball because it was very dramatic. The score by Tchaikovsky is absolutely exquisite!  The music during the Pas de Deux between Odette and Siegfried is incredibly romantic (right up there with the Pas de Deux between the Sugar Plum Fairy and her Cavalier in The Nutcracker).  I think all of Tchaikovsky's music is so beautiful and emotional and the choreography of this ballet really suits this particular piece!  The costumes are gorgeous and the sets are quite spectacular, especially the ballroom (I loved the chandeliers).  It was such an amazing production (one of Ballet West's best, in my opinion) and I definitely recommend getting a ticket to one of the few remaining performances. Go here for tickets and information.

Note:  Taylor Swift used costumes from Ballet West's production of Swan Lake in the video for "Shake It Off."

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Leaping Russians and a Sugar Plum Fairy

Last night I attended Ballet West's production of The Nutcracker. This is such a beautiful production (in fact, it is so amazing that Ballet West recently performed five sold-out shows in Washington, D.C. at the Kennedy Center for Performing Arts) and it is one of my very favorite Christmas traditions. I look forward to it every year! No matter how many times I see it, I always feel like a child again anticipating those well-known opening notes of Tchaikovsky's magnificent Overture. I am just as excited as the children in the party scene as they await the unveiling of the Christmas tree and I marvel as the toy nutcracker is transformed into a handsome prince in the first act.  In the second act, Clara and her prince travel to the land of the Sugar Plum Fairy and I definitely enjoy the divertissements she arranges for their pleasure.  I love the Arabian dance, but my favorite is the Russian dance for the sheer athleticism of it!  The Grand Pas de Deux between the Sugar Plum Fairy and her Cavalier gives me goosebumps every time and, tonight, Emily Adams and Beau Pearson danced it beautifully.  I absolutely love Tchaikovsky's score for this dance!  I think it is one of the most romantic pieces of music in the classical cannon and William Christensen's original choreography really complements it!  I love everything about this ballet and it was such a wonderful way to start my Christmas vacation.  The Nutcracker will be performed at Capitol Theatre until Dec. 31 (with matinee and evening performances excluding Christmas Day) and I highly recommend it. Go here for information and to purchase tickets.  Whether it is your first time or, like me, you've been going for years, you're sure to be enchanted by this holiday classic!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Giselle

Last night I saw the classic ballet Giselle beautifully re-staged by Ballet West Artistic Director Adam Sklute.  I absolutely loved it! Giselle is a young peasant girl who meets a handsome man named Loy (who is really Albrecht, the Duke of Silesia, in disguise).  She falls in love with him much to the dismay of Hilarion, a peasant boy who loves her.  Loy leaves when he hears the horns of a hunting party but Hilarion discovers his true identity when he finds his sword.  The hunting party is comprised of the Duke of Courland and his daughter, Bathilde, who becomes fond of Giselle. They speak of love and confess that they are both engaged (it turns out that they are engaged to the same man).  Later, Loy returns and Hilarion confronts him with his sword. Giselle, upon learning the truth, goes mad and takes her own life.  When Albrecht visits Giselle's grave, he is confronted by the Wilis, the spirits of young maidens who were betrayed before their wedding day and seek revenge against those who deceived them. The Wilis force Albrecht to dance until he dies but Giselle forgives him which frees him from the spell.  I was thrilled when I learned that Christopher Ruud, my favorite Ballet West dancer, was dancing the role of Albrecht and Christiana Bennett, another favorite, was dancing the role of Myrthe, the Queen of the Wilis.  Giselle was danced by Arolyn Williams and she was amazing!  I loved the scene where Loy (Albrecht) woos Giselle.  The business with the flower to determine if Loy loves her is really sweet.  The Pas de Deux between Albrecht and Giselle's ghost is incredibly tender and beautiful (as is all the music for this ballet).  I loved the woodland scenery and costumes.  Most of the corps is costumed in rustic browns and greens while Giselle and Albrecht are in light blue.  It is a striking contrast.  The Wilis are all in white with a touch of green, making them seem otherworldly. The whole effect is quite beautiful.  The new staging is lovely and I highly recommend this production. Unfortunately, there are only two performances left:  an evening performance tonight (Sat) and a matinee tomorrow (Sun).  Go here for tickets and information.

Note:  I overheard a girl sitting near me say that her dream was to go to Russia and see a ballet.  I think that is a pretty good dream to have.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Utah Arts Festival 2014

Saturday I went to the Utah Arts Festival.  My niece Tashena dances with Children's Dance Theatre (CDT) and they always perform at the festival.  It has become a fun tradition every year to watch Tashena dance and then spend the afternoon soaking in as much of the art, food, music, movies, and dance as I can.  It is always amazing!  I walked around for about an hour looking at the row upon row of booths. I found some really beautiful and interesting pieces.  I loved just about every piece of jewelry I saw and I was quite impressed with some bells.  I wish I could have bought one of them.  Then I watched Tashena dance with CDT in The Three Questions on the Festival Stage.  Once again, I absolutely loved Tashena's dance, "Childhood Lost."  I loved the mournful cello music and the fuchsia and purple brocade costumes (Tashena thinks they are really heavy).  I just love watching Tashena dance because I think she is amazing.  I know I am a little bit biased but she has such a presence on stage.  I really loved the performance. After CDT danced, I spent some time wandering around the food booths. Many of Salt Lake City's best restaurants were represented and I finally opted for some fries and a garlic burger.  Delicious! Then I went back to the Festival Stage to see Ballet West perform.  I am always so impressed that Tashena dances on the same stage as Ballet West!  The first ballet was "Without Fall" to the music of Vivaldi's Concerto for Violin and Strings.  It was choreographed by Christopher Rudd, one of my favorite dancers.  The next ballet was "Mobile," which was choreographed by Ruud's father Tomm. Three dancers made intricate shapes within a ten foot circle in the middle of the stage.  It was simply stunning!  Finally, the dancers performed "Drums," which was a ballet by Christopher Ruud commissioned by the Utah Arts Festival.  The inspiration for this piece was Japanese drums and the choreography was incredibly innovative.  As usual, I really enjoyed watching Ballet West.  It was a fun afternoon and evening at the Utah Arts Festival, which continues until 11:00 tonight. Go here for more information.

Note:  While I was watching Ballet West perform at the festival three years ago, I actually sat next to Christopher Ruud!  Did I mention that he is my favorite dancer?

Saturday, April 26, 2014

The Rite of Spring

Last week I went to see a performance by Ballet West and it was absolutely wonderful!  The first ballet was called Forgotten Land and it was based on a painting by Edvard Munch, who is one of my favorites.  It featured music by Benjamin Britten which, to me, was almost reminiscent of howling wind.  There were several couples dressed monochromatically in red, white, gray, and black.  They danced in front of a large backdrop showing a stark landscape of ice, which I thought was very effective in evoking a mood of desolation.  The choreography was very innovative and this was definitely my favorite piece of the night.  The second ballet was called Divertimento No. 15 and it featured the music of Mozart.  It was a more traditional ballet with the dancers wearing tutus.  The choreography was very elegant.  The final ballet was a world premiere called The Rite of Spring featuring the music of Igor Stravinsky.  This piece was amazing!  The choreography was almost primitive and every movement embodied the music completely.  A large vessel above the stage slowly rotated to splash water on the dancers at the end of the piece.  It was very dramatic!  I really enjoyed the entire performance.
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