DAVENPORT -- What little girl doesn't dream of becoming a ballerina? What little boy doesn't dream of having a toy come to life?|
For the child in all of us who loves Christmas, there could be no better gift than beholding the colorful cornucopia of this and more in Ballet Quad Cities' bedazzling "The Nutcracker." The classic 1892 Tchaikovsky ballet --choreographed by the immensely talented Courtney Lyon and Erica Attwood -- was performedbefore 1,200 area schoolchildren Friday morning.
While much of the exotic "Nutcracker" story unfolds as a child's dream, the opening Christmas party scene -- with its giant, candle-lit tree, piles of gifts and decorated living room, is an ideal holiday reverie itself. It contains a flurry of activity,very cute children, everyone dressed in their finest, and
light and graceful dancing -- twirling dresses, playful and joyous.
Alife-size soldier doll (Kaleb Baker) and fairy doll (Shannon Yee) beguile the guests. Ms. Yee is particularly impressive in maintaining stiff, robotic movements, staying in the same poses while being carried off, standing, and even flipped upside down.
KLJB-TV anchor Chris Williams is both humble and authoritative in guest starring as toy-maker Drosselmeyer, who presents Clara with the Nutcracker that comes to life and transforms the story. Mr. Williams theatrically pulls out a scarf to repair the Nutcracker after a child pulls its head off.
As Clara for the third straight year, BQC veteran Heidi Dunn is lithe, gentle and airy in this princess of a part. After the Nutcracker (Mr. Baker) dies in his battle with the Rat King (Jacob Lyon), Clara finds him magically turned into a handsome prince.
The dream extends in a deeply snowy, forested backdrop, and Mr. Baker and Ms. Dunn display exquisitely beautiful, elegant, stately and majestic moves. Ms. Dunn's lifts as the stage snow falls is truly magical. The eight beguiling female "Snowflakes" in white twirl, flitting to and fro, with perfectly erect posture, arms extended -- seemingly effortless, which is arguably the real magic.
With a spotlight on the couple, with appropriately heavenly angelic choirs, the snow continues its mesmerizing waft down and the music swells upward to end the act.
In Act II, we and the happy couple are taken on a dance tour of the world, as a variety of acts from different countries reflect their culture. Spanish dancers (Emily Long and Jacob Lyon) are flamboyant and deliciously smooth. Arabian dancers (Jason Gomez and Andrea Rehm) are sensual and hypnotic. Ms. Rehm is especially awe-inspiring and amazingly flexible as she contorts her taut body into a variety of tantalizing positions and exerts terrific control.
The brief Chinese dance has lovely umbrellas and flowing red ribbons. The trio of mirlitons (traditional ballerinas played by Ms. Yee, Ms. Long and Brittany Des Rosiers) are also upright, delicate and impeccable. The popular Russian dance is rapid and rollicking.
Clara with the "Waltz of the Flowers" ensemble is enchanting and supple. She's lifted several times, but the ballet consistently soars without her having to leave the ground.
The definition of a classic may be something so familiar yet so fresh, that it seems new and alive and invigorating each time. This respectful, profoundly touching "Nutcracker" evokes such a love of life, of beauty, culture and refinement, celebrating everything good in life -- with kindness, talent, generosity, sensitivity. The professional ballet company shares a great gift with us at the holidays, and we get to open it and treasure it.
And being a beloved classic is not something the dancers can take for granted and simply rely on its pretty wrapping. They don't just "go through the motions" -- they must be fully invested (not to mention in shape and in practice) in the moment, fully concentrating and intensely following both the precise choreography and heartfelt emotion of the piece, to properly communicate it to us.
The grand pas de deux of Mr. Baker and Ms. Dunn toward the end puts a rigorously immaculate, disciplined and delightful bow on this priceless gift.
If you go
What: "The Nutcracker"
When: Today at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m., Sunday at 2 p.m.
Where: Adler Theatre, 136 E. 3rd St., Davenport
Tickets: $12.45 to $31.85, with a family four-pack for $19.10 to $25.70, available at the Adler box office, Ticketmaster outlets, at (800) 745.3000, or www.ticketmaster.com.
Geneseo, IL Details
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