Monday, December 15, 2014

Ballet West's "The Nutcracker" ballet

For the past four years, I have made it a point to see "The Nutcracker" ballet during the holiday season, so I went last Wednesday to see it again. I actually saw Ballet West perform this same show two years ago at the Kennedy Center; I wasn't writing a blog back then, so I never wrote about them. However, I did compare their 2012 performance to that of the Joffrey Ballet that I saw last year. I still keep most of the same opinions that I said back then, so I won't write them all over again. But I will share more, new thoughts!

I love seeing the Ballet West company perform. Many of their dancers were on the TV show "Breaking Pointe," which I really enjoyed watching (too bad there were only two seasons!). So when I see them dance, I feel like I know the dancers, or at the very least that I'm in the presence of celebrities. 

Christiana Bennett and Beckanne Sisk (it's strange to list them here with their last names, since I really only "know" them by their first names) were as beautiful as ever, smiling and representing the epitome of what ballerinas should be. I thought they were wonderful as the Snow Queen and Sugar Plum Fairy (respectively). And I will say, I was relieved when I saw that Christiana and her ex-husband, Christopher Ruud, weren't dancing together as a couple; I wonder if they ever dance together.
Image found at
Image found at

I was also pleased to see the two Tilton brothers from the TV show dancing as well. The younger brother, Ronald, played one of the Russian dancers, and his height was quite noticeable next to the other men he was dancing with. Rex, who performed in the Waltz of the Flowers, was just as handsome as I remembered. And just for the record: that man should only be allowed to wear white tights. Ever. No jeans, no sweatpants, no slacks. Just tights. Mmm....

Photo by Beau Pearson, courtesy of Ballet West. Image found at
Allison DeBona performed the Arabian dance in this year's performance (I do not recall what she danced two years ago, or even if she performed that night). While she danced nicely, last year's Joffrey performance of this particular dance was so incredibly sexy that it was hard to beat. I didn't feel that intimate connection between DeBona and her partner, Christopher Anderson. I also thought it was weird that this piece included other dancers; I usually think of this as a solo or pair dance.

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But enough about those from Breaking Pointe fame! Onto the rest of the performance. I must mention the humor that Ballet West includes in this performance. I mentioned some things in last year's Nutcracker blog post, but they brought even more funniness to the program this time. The mouse king at one point did the "running man" and "Gangnam Style" dances, at which point I laughed out loud and the woman sitting next to me gave me a dirty look. And there were baby mice, too!
Photo taken by Luke Isley. Image found at
I also thought it was funny that at the opening party scene, a pair of grandparents were included; the old couple was quite silly, drinking a bit too much and dancing awkwardly. And the "party princess," a little girl who needed to be the center of attention (played by Kya Eman Uzzle) was so cute and endearing with her mini-tantrums.

Speaking of which, as I said in my previous Nutcracker post, I do not like children in ballet. It's just weird. I came to see beautiful ballerinas with their long legs, not a bunch of kids running around on stage and trying to "dance." I also thought it was pretty obvious that a few of the children were wearing "flippers," or fake teeth, which was very off-putting, to the point that I couldn't look at anything but their mouths. But I will admit I thought the children this year did a good job, and I'll even say that the "buffoons" that came out from beneath the ginormous skirt were rather adorable (and very tiny!).
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Katie Critchlow really impressed me as the doll that comes to life; she really moved like a toy, unlike her counterpart Silas Campos, whose bear doll just danced like a man in a bear costume. I thought the Chinese dragon was an incredible addition to the Chinese dance, and Tyler Gum (who looks kind of like Michael Phelps) was amazing dancing with his bowstaff (is that what that was?).

In general, I thought the costumes were amazing. They are everything you imagine from a classic ballet: tutus, tiaras, sparkle, color. This company makes the dance just so gorgeous to watch! There's so much you want to look at, so much that you want to take in! But of course nothing's perfect. I've never been a fan of costumes in which dancers hold things in their hands, so when the Snowflakes danced, all I could focus on were the evergreen twigs covered in glitter that they were holding the whole time. The same goes for the Ladies in Waiting and their pink Swiffer feather dusters. Also, during the Waltz of the Flowers, the ballerina's tutu was so short you couldn't help but stare at her ruffly pink underthings; some modesty, please.

I was also put off by the pyrotechnics that the company used. Now, if I had read my program more carefully, I would have seen that the pyrotechnics company was listed, so I should have been prepared for the bright flashes of light and loud noises. But I didn't notice that little tid-bit, so when a cannon went off during the fight between the mice and soldiers, I practically jumped out of my seat! Not exactly what you have in mind when you're going to see the ballet!

But besides those few things, I thought the performance was amazing. I was so glad that I got to go opening night, and that I was able to see all of the dancers I really wanted to see perform. I recommend this performance, and anything Ballet West does! 5 stars! Encore!

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