Nevada Ballet Theatre

(Left to right): Baris Erhan and Natalia Chapourskaya, Dereck Townsend, and Elena Shokhina in The Class. Photo by John Hanson, courtesy Nevada Ballet Theatre.

Nevada Ballet Theatre
Judy Bayley Theatre, Las Vegas, NV
May 12–14, 2006
Reviewed by Hal de Becker

 

The Scheherazade tale may have a great storyteller at its heart, but in bringing it to the ballet stage, choreographer Kathryn Posin could have learned a lesson from The Class. The two works concluded Nevada Ballet Theatre’s 34th season in Las Vegas. Posin’s credits, which include a master of arts and numerous choreographies, made her version of the ballet an eagerly awaited but ultimately disappointing event, not to be compared with the Fokine masterwork. The choreography of clichéd, pseudo-Arabian Nights poses and gyrations and steps reminiscent of ballet class was pedestrian. It lacked drama, eroticism, or any other theatrically compelling virtue.

 

The plot recounted Scheherazade’s tales of Sinbad, Aladdin, the Flying Horse, and more but failed to communicate despite two pages of program notes (as muddled as the production) that attempted to explain it. The dancers gave their best but appeared under-rehearsed and understandably unsure of the ballet’s intentions. With its colorful costumes and make-believe characters, the work might have appeal for children. Indeed, the stage frequently resembled a Nutcracker production.

 

The Class, choreographed by NBT artistic director Bruce Steivel and loosely structured on the traditional ballet class, began at the barre—where else?—with pliés and tendus. However, it quickly developed into a dazzling display of classical technique with choreography that was, despite the familiar material, fresh and original. The predictable progression from basics to virtuosity created a sense of anticipation that kept viewers on the edge of their seats and applauding.

 

Racheal Hummel and Zeb Nole impressed in their duets, she with long-lined lyricism, he with smooth partnering and noble bearing. His series of entrechat six alternating with brisés volé was a showstopper. A trio (Kyu Dong Kwak, Baris Ehran, and Dereck Townsend) added to the audience’s delight with double and triple pirouettes à la seconde.

 

Even more exciting were the group patterns that moved in circles or in intricately crossing lines. At the ballet’s conclusion all 28 dancers streamed across the stage in a crescendo of double saut de basques, double piqué turns, and soaring lifts to earn a standing ovation. See www.nevadaballet.com.

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