The Christmas season has commenced. The velvet tunics, bows and ballet slippers have graced the stage. Friday, November 24 kicked off the Boulder Ballet and Boulder Philharmonic Orchestra’s 2017 season of The Nutcracker at CU Boulder’s Mackey Auditorium. In its 60th year, the celebratory ballet also included a bonus of the Boulder Children’s Chorale, which added a layer of heart-warming joy when the little ones’ voices rang out at the end of Waltz of the Snowflakes.
The production delighted with varied nuances of storytelling beginning with Clara asleep in her bed and Drosselmeyer first appearing as a face within the clock. Drosselmeyer maintains a presence throughout the ballet, adding some comic relief with juggling and in his finale as he flies into the rafters.
Phoebe Magna achieved the first audience burst of applause as the Ballerina Doll, ever rigid and perfectly connected to her role as a doll. The mechanic movements and strength of purpose amused and delighted. It wasn’t surprising to find out she would continue to steal our hearts as grown-up Clara throughout the rest of the performance. As our prince, Matthew Helms hit jump upon jump with an ever-so-light landing. Together, they seemed a tad strained in compatibility, though subtle as it was.
Arabian Coffee, danced by Carly Hambridge, Kate Adams and Ryland Early, dynamically melded in and out of one another like a trio connected by sinew. The fluidity of their movements transcended the audience to another place. As if to counteract this mellifluous movement, Raul Orozco flew through the air with high kick upon leap as the Russian dancer, infusing energy back into the lulled auditorium.
Marzipan and Mother Ginger and her cookies brought smiles and laughter to the audience with their airiness and youth. The twist on the Sugar Plum Fairy left us wanting more. Our fairy was accompanied by three tiny fairies who seemed no more than six years of age. As such, the level of difficulty and grace were limited. With 83 students gracing the production, the continuity of skill and synchronicity of dancers varied through the production.
The final pas de deux and finale were full of life, allowing each of the dancers a place for earned applause and accolade. Having brought a friend and her three year old, I was able to get the final sense of the ballet’s success from our little guest. She clapped and clapped with a smile from ear to ear. The 1,200 hours of work put into to making the costumes, the 4,675 hours of rehearsal and the countless practice by the 58 musicians were well worth it. Thank you for kicking off 2017’s holiday season. We left with visions of sugar plums dancing in our heads.
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, sits on the Programs Committee for Women’s Transportation Seminar and works for Denver Regional Council of Governments managing their Way to Go Program (www.waytogo.org)providing mobility options for those in the Denver region. Her passion and enthusiasm for the kinetic arts will frolic and frenzy through the upcoming season of performances with many hopes for an encore!