Sunday, December 12, 2010


       Stephanie Foraker Pitts and David Barocio appear as the Sugar Plum Fairy and her Cavalier
       in this year's The Nutcracker presented by the Oklahoma City Ballet through December 19th.


By Nancy Condit

The Oklahoma City Ballet, under the direction of artistic director Robert Mills, opened its annual enjoyable offering of The Nutcracker last Friday night, December 12th, at the Civic Center.  Choreography for The Nutcracker was also by Mills, after the original choreography by Lev Ivanov and Marius Petipa.  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s iconic music was live, by the Oklahoma City Philharmonic with Joel Levin conducting.  It continues its run through next Sunday afternoon, with performances at 7 p.m. on Friday and Saturday nights, the 17th and 18th, and matinees at on Saturdays and Sundays, December 18th and 19th.

The highlight of the ballet continues to be the winter wonderland, with its set forming a perfect backdrop for the dance by Ronnie Underwood as the Snow King and Miki Kawamura as the Snow Queen, and the Snowflakes.  Underwood was secure in a role that required many classical lifts of his partner to his shoulder and above his head, as was Kawamura. A note, seeing the Snow Queen carried on the Snow King’s shoulder above the heads of the row of snowflakes at the dance’s end is technically demanding, but also very funny.

Skylar Singer performed 12-year-old Clara for the second year, in a rotating role with Roma Catania.  Ms. Singer showed good presence and danced well.  Her brother Fritz was well danced by Courtney Thompson. The 100 children from central Oklahoma performed well.

Bob Windsor was enjoyable as the toymaker Drosselmyer.

Stephanie Foraker Pitts danced a precise, poised Sugar Plum Fairy.  David Barocio danced her cavalier.  Foraker Pitts’ life size Kissy Doll performance of a wind-up toy that comes to mechanical stops left her costume’s tutu still bouncing.  The mice, led by Jerry Pines, were so childishly obnoxious that the toy soldiers just had to shoot them with toy guns.  Michael Villella danced the Nutcracker Prince.

Tye Love, Emily Fine and Samantha Kropp were spirited and enjoyable as the Spanish Chocolate dancers.  Darli Iakovleva’s performance of Arabian Coffee was good -- one of attitude rather than sinuousness, and her partner, Anton Iakovlev was solid.

Callye McCollum was very good as the Marzipan soloist.

Audrey Johnson danced a delicate, physically free Dew Drop Fairy, partly because of the choreography and costume in comparison to the Flowers. Her moves were curved and angled, compared to the Flowers, which moved as one, with straight legs and arms.  Her costume continues to be effective.  It was a blue white silk-like light material that moved with Johnston’s slightest step, compared to the heavier net waltz-length light maroon tutus of the Flowers.

The one choreographic misstep of the ballet was the Nutcracker’s dishonorably stabbing the Mouse King in the back.

Only in a seasonal dream could the second act set be called anything but garish, especially its backdrop of rays of bright pink and red.  However, Dale Hall’s set for the Snow Queen and Snow Queen continued breathtakingly lovely, with the transition from a turn of the end of the 19th century home to the snow wonderland with clear light aqua blue chiffon-like curtains.

Two rich red women’s turn of the century dresses lit up the party at the Drosselmyers’ home. Costumes were by Michael Jones, Adrian Thompson, Susanne Hobbs, and Marcud Ford.

For more information on tickets, visit or call 405.843.TOES (8637).

                 Mary Reynolds, Louise Goldbery and The Sisters of Swing recently presented a benefit
                 concert at St. John's Episcopal church for the Guild of St. George pantry.

By Nancy Condit

Mary Reynolds and The Sisters of Swing performed an NPR revue style benefit that rocked the hall of St. John’s Episcopal Church last Saturday night, December 11.  It benefited the Guild of St. George, formed by the Episcopalian Church as a food panty to break the back of hunger.

“We perform vocal jazz that covers ten centuries,” said Reynolds, during a break when The Sisters of Swing and the a cappella group The Backdoor took a break from dancing around their microphones while they sang.

The music with Reynolds and Louise Goldberg and the two groups is impeccable.  Reynolds is particularly notable for her clear, pure voice.

Their selections ranged from the very early “Fum, Fum, Fum,” to “I Want a Hippotamus for Christmas,” to a sendup of the B.C. Clark Christmas song to a lot of rockin’.  The Bennetts were late, so the group played “The Merry Christmas Polka” again, while the Bennett’s were invited, i.e. embarrassed. into dancing.  They were pretty good. 

With plastic Christmas trees that came in a box ready to assemble festooned with electric lights as a set, and a singer and volunteer child with handmade hippopotamus masks passing out small pieces of candy, it was a high brow evening.

To contact or book The Sisters of Swing, call Mary Reynolds at 204.4884.  To contact or book The BackRow email

c. 2010 Nancy Condit


Monday, December 6, 2010


By Nancy Condit

The Oklahoma City area has three professional and college
dance programs opening this week, as well a short-term need for
volunteers at {Artspace] at Untitled and a pre-Christmas event
with children photographed at OCU.

Oklahoma City University opens its "Home for the Holidays"
Broadway-style dance Christmas extravaganza, directed by
Jo Rowan,  Thursday, December 9 for a run through December 12.
Look for a chorus line of 36 dancers among the dance numbers. 
Performances are at 8 p.m. on December 9, 10, and 11, and 2 p.m. on
Dec. 11 and 12 in the Kirkpatrick Fine Arts Auditorium at OCU.  For
more information call 405.208.5227.

The University of Central Oklahoma Dance Department has
a one night Young Choreographers, by students,  fast-paced showcase
featuring jazz, hip-hop, ballet and modern dance at 7:30 Tuesday,
December 7 at Mitchell Hall on the UCO campus.

The Oklahoma City Ballet's The Nutcracker, choreographed by
artistic director Robert Mills, will be performed Friday, December 10 - 12
and December 17 - 19.  Seven p.m. performances are on the 10th and 11th,
17th and 18th, and 2 p.m. performances are on the 11th and 12th, and 18th
and 19th.  The professional company's ballet follows the traditional story at
the Civic Center.  For more information visit

[Artspace] at Untitled is in need of volunteers to greet and guide the public
through the 2010 Creativity World Biennale on Fridays and Satrudays
through January 8, 2011.  [Artspace] will provide guidelines and support
materials, and volunteers will need cell phones.  For more info call 405.815.9995.


Thursday, November 4, 2010



By Nancy Condit

Oklahoma City Ballet presented the best of its original story ballets last Saturday night, October 30th, 2010, at the Civic Center.  Based on Gaston Leroux’ novel, The Phantom of the Opera, under the artistic direction of Robert Mills, was well choreographed by Jacob Sparso, who choreographed The Wizard of Oz and is also ballet master. 

Sparso’s use of straight, clean lines throughout the ballet, but especially noted with the Phantom, Ronnie Underwood, created the drama of the dance, especially with Underwood’s complete extensions, and the height of his leaps.
Anton Iakovlov‘s very good dancing, especially in his fight scene with the Underwood, more than met the evening’s expectations for drama.  He danced the role of Raoul, Christine’s childhood friend and, ultimately, her fiance.
Miki Kawamura performed well in the delicate role of Christine. She and Underwood were particularly effective when Underwood lifted her straight up by her upper arms and carried her to another part of the stage, as he tried to tell her how much he was attracted to her and she continued to withdraw.
Stephanie Foraker Pitts charmingly performed the role of prima ballerina Carlotta with as much petulance as diva.
The company as a whole performed well, and is dancing even better this season. 
In all, the men particularly have improved over the last two years.
The small dances within the ballet, performed by “the Dancers of the Paris Opera Ballet” – the company,  and the “Students from the Paris Opera Ballet” – danced by children, included rehearsals on stage -- exercises at the barre and floor exercises, to the wonderful dance of the students at the masquerade ball where they were dressed as cupids with gold bows, light pink costumes and short white curly wigs and  the Spanish dance on stage at the Paris Opera.
Sparso choreographed a tighter story ballet that gaves a look at nineteenth century ballet life on stage and behind the curtain, with charming interludes of dance while maintaining the tension of the Phantom’s threat.
Kermit Polling’s original score for Oklahoma City Ballet was dramatic, adding to the intensity of scenes particularly with the philharmonic’s horn section. Polling also conducted the Oklahoma City Philharmonic.  This is the second score of Polling’s the ballet has used, including The Wizard of Oz.
That said, the ballet could lose about 20 to 30 minutes from the from the ballet, cutting some of each of the longest pieces.
The scene designs by XuZheng He and Dale Hall were effective -- including a backdrop showing the ballet dancers’ view looking out at the opera house with empty seats, the ram’s head boat in which the Phantom and Christine ride the underground Seine, and the ten foot high arches the Phantom led Christine past as a dramatically curtain fell behind the arches, cutting her off even more from the outside world.
Michael Jones costumes were lush and to the period.
The company will perform The Nutcracker on December 10 – 12, and 17 – 19.  In 2011, they will perform Masters and Moderns on February 12 – 13, and Mozart’s Requiem, with Canterbury Choral Society, on March 26  - 27.  All performances are planned to be performed to the live music of the Oklahoma City Philharmonic.


Saturday, October 23, 2010

Legendary tap dancer Harold Cromer lecture-demo at OCU

Oklahoma City University will welcome legendary tap dancer and stage performer Harold Cromer for an evening of dance and discussion Oct. 26. Cromer will perform a tap dance accompanied by Oklahoma City University student musicians and join a panel of professionals who will discuss issues of race in the entertainment industry. Dancers from the Ann Lacy School of American Dance and Arts Management will open for Cromer.

The event will begin at 7:30 p.m. in the Burg Theater, located in the Fine Arts building at NW 25th Street and Blackwelder Avenue. Doors will open at 7 p.m. and the performance is free to the public.