a kate west review
Choreography by Thordal Christensen & Colleen Neary
Music by Peter Ilyich Tchiakovsky
Alex Theatre, Glendale Dec. 3 7:30 pm Dec. 4 2:00 pm
Royce Hall, UCLA Dec. 17 1:00 pm Dec. 17 5:00 pm Dec. 18 1:00 pm Dec. 18 5:00 pm
Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center Dec. 22 7:30 pm Dec. 23 7:30 pm Dec. 24 1:00 pm
Buy tickets here: www.losangelesballet.org
The Los Angeles Ballet brings us "The Nutcracker" this cheery holiday season, filling auditoriums with young ballerina spectators, as a required rite of passage for pretty much every school-age child. Young Clara (Mia Katz) is preparing for her family's holiday party while playing with dolls and dreaming of becoming a ballerina. Her brother Fritz (Aidan Merchel-Zoric) does typically tormentinful boy things until Uncle Drosselmeyer (Nicolas de la Vega) appears with magical toy wonders. Chief among the haul is a life-size Nutcracker (Nathaniel Solis) who enchants everyone and immediately captures Clara's heart.
The rest of the story is well-known. Clara dreams of travels and adventures with her beloved Nutcracker, who fights the Mouse King (Zheng Hua Li) to get her there. While the mouse costumes look more like nightmarish rats, Costumer Mikael Melbye does a fair job with the rest of the crew, featuring soldiers and key dancers (Spanish, Harlequin, Arabian, but sadly no Sugar Plums). Clara wakes at the end wondering if it all was really a dream ... or something her uncle created?
As far as the production goes, the company is a professional one so the dancing is good of course and the sets fairly standard theatrical style (Catherine Kanner). Costumer Melbye does a fine job with the Snowflakes and a nice collaboration with Kanner's Gingerbread House/Woman. Allyne Noelle and Kenta Shimizu are excellent as Prince and Princess and the Rose (Bianca Bulle) has a nice routine as well. The Arabian dancers are especially stunning (Julia Cinquemani and Alexander Castillo), not to mention very flexible.
It is tough to fully enjoy the famous orchestral score without a real orchestra, but the notes are so familiar to us all that we will be humming them all season. While not the powerfully emotional and innovative Bolshoi Ballet, Los Angeles turns out (get it, dance students?) a good first time Nutcracker for those of you who want the experience. There is plenty of visual yumminess to enjoy (a nice big old fashioned Christmas tree for instance) and a simple enough story to explain to the kiddies. Surprisingly, the youngsters weren't too squirmy.