The Friday, December 23, 2016 matinee of the Denver Ballet Theatre’s Nutcracker at the Newman Center of the Performing Arts was bustling with parents, grandparents, children and adults. Artistic Director David Taylor took a well-known classic and choreographed to showcase the talent of the budding young dancers. From a reduction in leaps to the use of props, the tiniest of dancers were able to take the stage and share in the magic of this Christmas classic.
Immediately the stage fills with youth eager to party in Herr and Frau Stahlbaums’ living room. From baby dolls to hand claps, the audience is engaged. The mechanical dolls Harlequin (Eliana Flieder), Columbine (Tomasin Corrente) and Moor (Paige Pimmel), achieved their characters and held their form astonishingly well throughout the scene. They made us truly believe they were animated creations.
Act I, Scene IV draws the audience in with a juvenile nutcracker/rat attack displaying calculated movements. Upon the next scene, our Snow Queen (Allison Key) elongates and displays nice extension while our young snowflakes fall a little heavy on their seemingly light feet. Taylor’s use of asynchronous movements aid in offsetting the variety of experience levels among the dancers.
Act II explodes with our Nutcracker (Chris Mitchell) landing an expertly executed jump. Both the costume variety and combination of props with movement elicit spontaneous applause from the parent-filled audience. From the Welcoming Flowers, Spanish Chocolate, and Chinese Tea to the Umbrella Dancers and Mother Ginger, we are given a spectacle of movement. The highlight of Act II, Scene II was Arabian Coffee. Tomasin Corrente, Emily Lai, and Myki Navi displayed grace and elegance while seeming joyful and at ease as they glided and leapt about the stage.
Guest artists Ryan Lee and Alexandru Glusacov as the Sugar Plum Fairy and Cavalier seemed to serve as thede facto guides to all the students within DBT. Their professional stage presences could be felt throughout. This winter classic, executed by dancers in training up to professionals, proved a gentle delight and set the scene for further Christmas revels. The burst of finale applause evidenced the pleasure of the theater-goers, which was brightly reflected on the faces of the dedicated dancers.
W. Celeste Davis Stragand: Published author, showcased artist and Denver transplant, W. Celeste Davis Stragand is not new to the art world. Her passion for delving into the root of existence and movement will challenge and praise both choreographers and the audience. A graduate of Texas A&M University, Celeste holds two bachelor of arts degrees, one in Chemistry and the other in English. She is also a graduate of Naropa University holding a Masters of Fine Arts in Writing and Poetics from the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics. A former national slam team poet, Celeste is a graduate of the Downtown Denver Partnership Leadership Program and sits on the American Institute of Architects Colorado board. Her passion and enthusiasm for the kinetic arts will frolic and frenzy through the upcoming season of performances with many hopes for an encore!