Showing posts with label dance. Show all posts
Showing posts with label dance. Show all posts

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Ballet West's Cinderella

Last night I had the opportunity to see Ballet West's beautiful production of Cinderella and I absolutely loved it! Featuring sumptuous costumes and sets and a marvelous score by Sergei Prokofiev, this ballet tells the well-known story of Cinderella (albeit with a few differences from the Disney version) with choreography by Sir Frederick Ashton. The stepsisters are portrayed, rather hilariously, by men (Adrian Fry and Christopher Sellers) and the scenes of them getting ready for the ball had me laughing out loud! I also really enjoyed the scene where Cinderella (Beckanne Sisk) dances with a broom as a partner. The Fairy Godmother (Katlyn Addison, one of my favorite dancers) has four fairies representing the different seasons give Cinderella gifts before transforming her into a princess complete with a gilded carriage made from a pumpkin. The ball scenes are delightful with more antics from the stepsisters and I was so impressed by the athleticism of the Jester (Joshua Whitehead). I have to admit that Cinderella's entrance to the ball was absolutely magical and gave me goosebumps. The Grand Pas de Deux between Cinderella and the Prince (Chase O'Connell) is incredibly romantic and very moving with intricate choreography that is dazzling to watch. I thought the giant clock looming over the stage was very effective and the scene of Cinderella leaving the ball is quite dramatic. The final scene is lovely with glitter falling as Cinderella and the Prince dance off stage. The whole production is thoroughly entertaining and I think it is the prefect ballet for children because, while it is definitely a classical ballet, there are so many comedic elements, especially involving the stepsisters, and the story is a familiar one. Cinderella runs at Capitol Theatre through February 25 and tickets may be purchased here.

Friday, December 22, 2017

The Nutcracker 2017

I am now officially on winter break and I am so excited (and relieved). The past week at school has been extremely stressful and, honestly, I didn't think I would make it! The one thing that got me through the day yesterday was knowing that I would be seeing a performance of The Nutcracker by Ballet West later that night. This is a cherished tradition every Christmas and I was even more excited than usual this year because it is all new! The new production retains everything that I love about this ballet, namely the incomparable score by Tchaikovsky and William Christensen's iconic choreography, and adds some beautiful new sets and costumes. I loved it! The set during the party scene has a very Baroque feel to it with lots of jewel tone colors.  I especially loved the falling snow visible in a picture window behind the tree. I also really liked the special lighting effects when the tree grows in size. The set for the Snow Pas de Deux is like a woodland winter wonderland with the Northern lights in the background.  I particularly liked the effect of viewing this scene through diamond paned windows as Clara and the Nutcracker Prince leave the house. The set for the Land of the Sweets has a very tropical feel with candy hued costumes for the pages and attendants (and monkeys!). The new costumes are incredibly opulent and my favorites were the Waltzing Flowers and the furry mice. I don't think I will ever get tired of seeing this ballet and I eagerly anticipate all of the divertissements offered by the Sugar Plum Fairy to entertain Clara. As ever, my favorites are the Arabian dance because it is so exotic and sensuous and the Russian dance for its sheer athleticism (it received the loudest cheers). I wait through the entire ballet for the Grand Pas de Deux between the Sugar Plum Fairy and her Cavalier. I love this because Tchaikovsky's music here is so incredibly romantic!  The Sugar Plum Fairy was danced by Sayaka Ohtaki last night and she was fantastic. I think she is so classically graceful and she seemed to glide across the stage and whirl through the air. It was a wonderful evening and the perfect start to winter break! I highly recommend seeing this amazing update of a Christmas classic.  It runs at the Capitol Theatre through December 30 and tickets may be purchased here.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Thriller 2017

I love rituals and traditions.  In a world that seems to be full of chaos it is really nice to have something that you can count on and look forward to!  I have recently purchased tickets to quite a few seasonal performances and I have already started looking forward to them.  One such performance occurred last night after putting in a long and difficult week at school finishing up the first quarter (students only care about their grade during the last week of the quarter).  It was exactly what I needed!  In my opinion, it simply wouldn't be Halloween if I didn't get to see Odyssey Dance Theatre's production of Thriller.  The fact that I have seen this show so many times adds to, rather than detracts from, my enjoyment because I anticipate each number as I watch!  I love when the undead begin cavorting in a graveyard during "Thriller," when the break-dancing mummy comes to life in "Curse of the Mummy," when the uncooperative pandas begin acting up in "Miss Alli's Nighmare," when Frankenstein breaks his Bride's neck in "Frankenstein & Frankenstein," when the tap-dancing skeletons start tossing their heads around in "Dem Bones," when a trio of Jasons get crazy with their chainsaws in "Jason Jam," when the scarecrows come to life in "Children of the Corn," when condemned witches come back for revenge in "Salem's Mass," when a group of chucky dolls come to life in "Chucky-Rama," and when acrobatic vampires spin and leap in "Lost Boys."  Even though the numbers are the same from year to year, there always seems to be some new choreography or special effects to keep them interesting.  This year, in addition to the hilarious films of Scott Winn (the twerking stormtroopers are my favorite) in between numbers, there were some amazing aerial numbers choreographed by Aeris Aerial Arts.  I absolutely loved "Bats in a Box" which featured between four and six aerialists performing on a spinning steel box.  It was fabulous and I may or may not have said "Wow" out loud multiple times!  I also really liked "Phantom of the Opera" which featured two aerialists performing on a rope (it reminded me of Cirque de Soleil).  It is such a fun and exuberant show and I highly recommend getting at ticket (there are four more performances at Kingsbury Hall) which may be purchased here.

Note:  I have been attending this concert for twenty years!  I remember the first concert distinctly because I had just started teaching at Westminster College in 1997 and I ran into two of my students.  Last night I only saw one of my HHS students!

Thursday, April 6, 2017


Every year in October I have a tradition of seeing Thriller, a Halloween dance concert performed by Odyssey Dance Theatre.  I always enjoy it so much so this year I decided to attend one of their three spring repertory concerts.  I chose MJ which features the music of Michael Jackson and it was simply amazing.  Members of the company performed to "Thriller," "She's Out of My Life," "Workin' Day and Night," "The Way You Make Me Feel," "Off the Wall," "Hollywood," "Don't Stop "Til You Get Enough," "P.Y.T.," "Man in the Mirror," "Dangerous," "The Girl is Mine," "Never Can Say Goodbye," "Ain't No Sunshine," "Dirty Diana," "Rockin' Robin," "Billie Jean," and "Jam."  They were all really good but my favorites were "Earth Song," which was a very lyrical dance performed by the whole company wearing flowing earth-tone costumes, "They Don't Care About Us," which featured the female cast tap dancing in black leather costumes (this reminded me of the choreography in the film This Is It), and "Blood on the Dance Floor," which was a very stylized dance performed by the whole company wearing black and red costumes.  I also really loved the finale which was a mash-up of "Smooth Criminal" and "Beat It."  This piece was basically a dance-off between 1920's gangsters and molls and a street gang and it was a lot of fun.  The dancers of ODT are incredibly talented and this concert made me remember how much I enjoyed Michael Jackson as a performer.  I loved the show and I highly recommend it.  ODT's spring repertory program also includes Let It Be, featuring the music of the Beatles, and Purple Rain, featuring the music of Prince.  All three concerts will be performed through April 8 at Kingsbury Hall and tickets may be purchased here.

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!

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Thriller 2016

For some reason I haven't done very many Halloween-themed activities this year.  However, one Halloween tradition that I always try to uphold is seeing Odyssey Dance Theatre's production of Thriller.  I successfully avoided the undead (don't make eye contact!) as I made my way to my seat at Kingsbury Hall last Monday night and I thoroughly enjoyed the show, as I always do.  Even though I have seen this Halloween dance extravaganza more times than I can count, I always look forward to it and anticipate every single dance as the show progresses!  I love the undead cavorting in a graveyard in "Thriller," (the dramatic opening number) the break dancing mummy and his maidens in "Curse of the Mummy," the three year old pandas in "Miss Alli's Nightmare," a pas de deux gone horribly wrong in "Frankenstein & Frankenstein," tap dancing skeletons in "Dem Bones," a trio of Jasons wielding assorted weaponry in "Jason Jam," scarecrows who are not what they seam in "Children of the Corn," a group of voodoo priestesses in "Servant of the Spirits," condemned witches who return for revenge in "Salem's Mass," (my favorite number) a group of malevolent dolls in "Chucky-Rama," acrobatic vampires in "Lost Boys," and high stepping Irish lasses in "River of Blood Dance." As each number began, the audience would cheer wildly which made the experience even more fun.  It simply would not be Halloween without Thriller!  You can purchase tickets to this show, which is performed in various venues around Utah, by going here.

Note:  I also really enjoyed the films by Scott Winn which were shown in between the numbers, featuring twerking Stormtroopers, the crew from the Starship Enterprise in a dance-off, and a group of Orcs getting down.

Sunday, April 10, 2016


Yesterday I went with my family to watch Tashena dance in CDT's production of Gwinna at Capitol Theatre.  The production, based on the children's book of the same name by Barbara Helen Berger, tells the story of a little girl who has wings but doesn't know that she can fly.  A woodworker and his wife want a child desperately and ask the Mother of the Owls to help them.  She promises them a child but they must let her go when she turns twelve.  The couple agrees but when their child, Gwinna, develops wings, they bind them up so she can't leave them.  Gwinna hears a melody that only she can hear and it frightens her parents.  When Mother Owl calls her home her parents try to stop her but they are turned to stone.  When Mother Owl learns that Gwinna can hear the music, she sends her in search of it.  With the help of a griffin Gwinna finds Druantia, the guardian of the trees, who tells her that her song has been forgotten and that she must bring it back to the world.  Gwinna builds a harp and the wind teaches her how to play it.  She flies back to her parents and brings them back to life by playing her harp.  I really liked the story, the choreography, and the music.  The costumes were really beautiful, especially all of the owls and their wings.
Tashena's dance (which was at the end!) was called "Wind in the Harp" and I thought it was very elegant and graceful.  My favorite part of the choreography was when Tashena had a very dramatic leap to mimic the wind.  I always love watching Tashena on stage because she expresses everything she feels through dance.
Tashena did such a good job and we are so proud of her!
Gwinna will be performed once again at the Sandy Amphitheater on June 21 (a free concert) and at the Utah Arts Festival on June 25.  Come see my beautiful and talented niece perform.

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!

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Thriller 2015

One of my favorite Halloween traditions is seeing Thriller performed by Odyssey Dance Theatre.  I've been going to this dance concert for years and years and I always look forward to it.  Just like The Nutcracker at Christmas time, I anticipate every dance even though I've seen them countless times!  The concert always begins with the undead cavorting in a graveyard to Michael Jackson's iconic song, "Thriller."  Speaking of the undead, they roam the aisles of Kingsbury Hall before the concert and they usually leave me alone because I don't make eye contact with them.  Last night they targeted me for some reason (maybe because I was on the front row?).  I loved the breakdancing mummy in "The Curse of the Mummy," the Pas de Deux gone horribly wrong in "Frankenstein & Frankenstein," the tap dancing skeletons in "Dem Bones," the trio of Jasons with their knives and swords and chainsaws (oh, my!) in "Jason Jam," the scarecrows who come to life in "Children of the Corn," the condemned witches who return for revenge in "Salem's Mass," the acrobatic vampires in "The Lost Boys," and the doomed Irish dancers in "River of Blood Dance."  There were also a few new surprises this year which were a lot of fun.  All of the dancers are amazing and the show is incredibly entertaining and fun to watch.  It just wouldn't be Halloween without it!  Thriller is being performed in multiple venues around Utah through Oct. 31.  Go here for tickets and more information.

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.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Crumb and the Pirates

Yesterday Tashena performed at the Capitol Theatre with Children's Dance Theatre (CDT) in their production of Crumb and the Pirates.  I really love that Tashena performs on the same stage as prima ballerinas and Broadway stars!  My entire family went to support her (as we do every year).  While I really enjoy watching Tashena play sports, I especially love watching her perform on stage!  She is such a beautiful dancer and I think she expresses everything she feels through dance.  Tashena was on the CDT Dancers' Council this year so she got to perform in an extra dance called "Silver."  It was very beautiful with original music composed specifically for it by Wachira Waigwa-Stone.  Crumb and the Pirates tells the story of a fishing village in Napoli.  After being caught in a terrible storm, many fishermen from the village are presumed dead.  A young boy named Crumb thinks that his father, one of the missing fishermen, is still alive and decides to borrow a boat and look for him.  As he is fishing, he feels a tug on his pole so he reels in his line only to discover that he has brought a sunken pirate ship, with a group of prisoners in the hold, to the surface.  Captain Rafael the Red decides to follow Crumb back to Napoli and the pirates wreak havoc on the village.  When Rafael decides to marry his mother, Marie, Crumb comes up with a plan to banish the pirates back to the sea but not before discovering the mystery in the ship's hold!  I really enjoyed this story and all of the dances, especially the pirates, the prisoners, and the little girls who portrayed seagulls!  Tashena's dance was "Fog" which was very mysterious and atmospheric.  The dancers wore gray tunics and they moved in and out of actual fog on the stage.  The dancers seemed to disappear at times!  A lot of the choreography involved rolling and tumbling across the stage which I thought was very effective at simulating how fog moves.  Tashena was amazing!  I always get a tear in my eye watching her!
Crumb and the Pirates will be performed once again at the Sandy Amphitheater on June 23 (a free concert) and at the Utah Arts Festival on June 27.  Come see my beautiful and talented niece perform!

Note:  CDT is the performing arm of the Tanner Dance Program at the University of Utah.  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


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.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Thriller 2014

I really love Halloween and one of my favorite Halloween traditions is to see Odyssey Dance Theatre's production of Thriller.  I've been going for years and it just wouldn't be Halloween without it!  Last night was opening night at Kingsbury Hall in SLC (the show is also touring all over Utah this month) and I was happy to see all of my old favorites, as well as a few new surprises.  The dance extravaganza features the undead cavorting in a graveyard, break-dancing mummies,  a pas de deux gone horribly wrong between Frankenstein and his bride, tap dancing skeletons, a trio of Jasons jamming with assorted weaponry, scarecrows who are not what they seem, condemned witches who come back from the dead for revenge (my favorite number), frolicking Chucky dolls, acrobatic vampires, and gunned down Irish dancers.  All of the dancers in the company are amazing and this show is definitely a crowd-pleaser, especially "Jason Jam."  I had a great time, as always, and I highly recommend seeing Thriller for a fun night out.  It runs until Nov. 1 at Kingsbury Hall.  Go here for tickets and information about the various touring locations and dates.

Note:  If you should happen to see any of the undead wandering about, do not make eye contact with them!  Trust me on this!

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.

Friday, April 18, 2014

The Three Questions

Several weeks ago Children's Dance Theatre (CDT), the performing arm of the University of Utah Tanner Dance Program, presented The Three Questions at the Capitol Theatre.  It was a retelling of a story by Leo Tolstoy in which the son of the Emperor of China must learn to rule wisely after his father is murdered.  When he is eighteen, the council asks him three questions to determine if he is fit to rule:  What is the right thing to do?  When is the best time to do it?  Who is the most important one?  Each dance was an interpretation of his quest to find the answers to these questions and the program was simply beautiful.  My very favorite dance was actually Tashena's dance (which, believe it or not, is not always the case).  Her dance was entitled "Childhood Lost" and the music and choreography evoked such a sense of longing that I actually had tears in my eyes!  I also thought the costumes were amazing because they seemed to shimmer with each movement (Tashena thought they were heavy).  I absolutely love watching Tashena on stage because she is such a beautiful dancer and my entire family was so proud of her!


Note:  I have to brag a little more about this beautiful and talented girl!  In addition to being a dancer, she is also a three sport athlete!  She played volleyball and basketball this year and yesterday was her first track meet.  She threw the discus 89 feet 11 inches which shattered the school record.  Her coach thinks she is well on her way to breaking the district and state records.  The other coaches can't believe she is a seventh grader!  We already knew that she was amazing!
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