I was thrilled to be in the opening night audience for Colorado Ballet’s, Denver debut of the romantic “Lady of the Camellias”, a three-act Ballet based on the French novel “La Dame aux Camélias” by Alexandre Dumas. Showing weekends of February 3rd – 5th, and February 10th – 12th at Denver’s very own Ellie Caulkins Opera House. Featuring principal dancers in their final season with Colorado Ballet, Dana Benton as the confident courtesan Marguerite, and Yosvani Ramos as the tender lover Armand. Upon learning this, I was so thankful to witness one of their final performances with Colorado Ballet, after many dedicated years with the company.
An ensemble of friends returns by Marguerite’s side to her home in Paris. Marguerite’s first entrance is escorted by Baron de Varville, her firm suitor. Her guests enjoyed many glasses of champagne, comically dancing with one another. It was so fun to watch, the playful dancing gave each dancer soloist parts, as well as lots of partner work, with plenty of unique, dramatic lifts. Marguerite was an amusing tease to the flirtatious party of male suitors, but notices a sweet Armand from across the room, and he with her. Keen to romance one another, slowly gravitate toward each other. Finally, a chance to be alone, Armand enters her bedroom, and they dance together slowly with lovely passion, falling deep in love in the low-lit bedroom set, accompanied by a rich and fluid piano, taking flight with the young lovers.
The second act takes us into the light of day in a colorful and warm garden. Marguerite and Armand are yet again accompanied by friends, dancing merrily in pairs and groups. The men were confident, and the women were poised, all getting a chance to shine. Unexpectedly, Baron disrupts the menagerie and demands Marguerite return to him, but she refuses, and he leaves in frustration. Later, as the men and women part to play badminton, the day shifts to dusk, and the orchestra fall silent, bringing tension as Armand’s father, Duval Senior, comes to confront Marguerite, warning that Armand’s and her being together doesn’t align with the differences in their social statuses. Their dancing displayed a difficult push and pull for Marguerite to cut ties with Armand against her will. When Duval departs, the orchestra falls silent again as Marguerite writes her heartbreaking letter to Armand. The message is received, and their love is severed. Night falls, and Armand is left alone to grieve. His solo included Contemporary elements and a Polish Opera singer accompanied the melancholy orchestra, singing “I can no longer sing of tomorrow, for I am dumb with grief and weeping.” Duval enters to literally comfort Armand, as they dance together with pain in their hearts, ending with Armand in Duval’s arms, like a crying child clinging to his father.
Act three begins the act of revenge at a Victorian ballroom back in Paris. As the lights went down and the curtain came up, our ensemble was ready to dance, uniquely dressed in glittery gowns. Grand music echoed in the theatre while the dancers moved with power and grace, incriminates of partner work with Marguerite and Baron, with plenty of applause and chanting from the audience. To everyone’s discomfort, Armand interrupts the ball escorting another lover, and they dance together with bitter and vengeful intent as Marguerite is forced to witness. In her disbelief, the ball comes to a sudden stop, and we are transitioned into the darkened imagination of the broken Marguerite back in her bedroom. As she relives her happy memories with Armand, our heartstrings were tugging with tragedy. To my surprise, Marguerite removes her pointe shoes for a final barefoot pas de deux between the lost lovers in her delusion. It’s as if we were ripped out of the story itself and thrust into a raw moment of true authentic love from the characters, as well as the performers themselves. At that point, our collective of people in the audience and on stage was in real time experiencing true loss and mourning together as one.
Believe me when I say, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house! This gorgeous performance was one to remember for the long haul because when we experience the sour emotions of what once was, it’s so easy to feel alone and isolated. The brave dancers showed us that we can all resonate and work together to come out of the other side in one piece and find ourselves again. Though this show ended in tragedy, it brought me peace in my own experience of lost love. I kindly appreciate Colorado Ballet’s artistic director Gil Boggs for knitting together this outstanding performance, and I would like to personally congratulate the hard-working cast for bringing us a display that hits close to home.
Finally, my sincerest congratulations to both Dana and Yosvani for their brilliant storytelling through the art of dance in their previous years, this performance, and their upcoming final show and I thank them and the rest of the team from the bottom of my heart for leading me through an unforgettable experience.
Presenting Denver Writer and Editorial Ambassador
Lillian Carter is a 23-year-old Dance Major at Metropolitan State University of Denver. She serves the Dance Department as a Work-Study student employee. Growing up in Denver, she was exposed to many art forms at an early age. Dancing has been her lifelong dream since she was 3, however, due to a series of unfortunate circumstances and financial hardship, was never able to obtain proper dance training growing up. Finding herself in Rogers AR when she was 16, she joined Arkansas Public Theatre as a musical theatre Ensemble-member, where she received theatre, jazz, tap dance, and vocal training. She moved back to Denver in 2020, attending drop-in ballet and hip-hop classes here and there while working full-time in food service. In the fall of 2021, she decided to attend MSU Denver to further her dance education and finally receive consistent dance training. She is also an evening dance instructor at Dancin’ Dreams in Park Hill. She will continue to expand her dance knowledge and is thrilled to broaden her horizons and experience with MSU Denver, Denver Center for Performing Arts, Dancin’ Dreams, and Presenting Denver.