TRUMPS ITSELF IN
By Nancy Condit
Sunday's matinee of the Oklahoma City Ballet's one of the holiday's favorite The Nutcracker presented artistic director Robert Mills' choreography and direction, after original choreography by Lev Ivanov and Marius Petipa, with two leading couples -- the young Clara and Drosselelmyer's apprentice Hans, and the adult Sugar Plum Fairy and her Cavalier. The welcoming holiday garlands of lights throughout the house, the fine performance by the Oklahoma City Ballet of The Nutcracker, and the pleasure of hearing Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky's music performed by the Oklahoma City Philharmonic, led by Joel Levine, made for a highly enjoyable Sunday matinee for the wide range of young children and adults. Artistic director Robert Mills' choreography and direction, after original choreography by Lev Ivanov and Marius Petipa, presented two leading couples -- the young Clara, and Drosselmyer's apprentice Hans, and the adult Sugar Plum Fairy and her Cavalier.
The ballet as a whole was lovely, with good performances. Company dancer Callye McCollom as Clara and Tye Love as Hans made an engaging couple, although it was difficult to watch a dancer as accomplished as Ms. McCollom pull back through an entire ballet. Miki Kawamura was perfectly straight, and very funny as the Kissy Doll, even as she was carried offstage with arms and legs at a doll's angle. The battle between the soldiers and mice was led well by Nutcracker Tye Love dancing with the incredible head, and the excellent mouse king Ryan Piper. The children were good and charming.
The clear light blue set, by Dale Hall, and costumes, by Michael Jones, Suzanne Hobbs, and Marcus Ford, in the Land of Show, showing off the company dancers, continues to be the most beautiful scene of the ballet. Combined with Clara -- McCollum, and the Nutcracker Prince -- Love, this is dancing for the beauty and joy of dancing.
The Kingdom of Sweets' individual dances were precise and engaging, with Ellany Abbot leading Leah Burge and Alison Prochaska as the delicate French Marzipan, and Ezlimar Dortolina and Ryan Piper in Arabian Coffee, as they conveyed the exotic by right angled hands, and her curling backwards around him as he supported her. Kawamura and Alvin Tovstogray -- a substitution for Sato, were excellent in the Sugar Plum Fairy and her Cavalier's Grand pas de Deux, expecially as she leapt to his shoulder, and as he supported her in her pirouette.
However, with Clara and Hans performing at a "younger" level through all of the corps de ballet presentations, including the Waltz of the Flowers, the grand pas de deux by the Sugar Fairy and her Cavalier -- performing at a higher intensity, was anticlimatic -- if only because of the comparatively short time they spent on stage. While a long series of corps de ballet work can be monotonous, the entire company has worked hard to perfect it. The corps de ballet, which performed so beautifully last year, even found itself squashed to the sides during the Flowers dance while Clara and the Nutcracker danced well in the middle of the stage. This is new choreography by Mills, and this writer looks forward to his next choreography of The Nutcracker.