“SLEEPING BEAUTY” PLUS
By: Hal de Becker
“Sleeping”: There was none on stage or in the audience.
“Beauty”: There was indeed plenty of that.
“Plus.”: An extra new ballet.
It was a performance of Sleeping Beauty, Act III by Las Vegas Ballet Company (LVBC) and Kwak Ballet Academy at Summerlin Library Theater.
LVBC is the only locally established ‘youth’ company dedicated to preserving and performing the great ballet classics.Its repertoire includes excerpts from “Giselle”, “Swan Lake”, “Sleeping Beauty”, “Paquita”, “Les Sylphides” and more.
The recent program opened with the “plus” ballet, Memory of You, choreographed by Kyudong Kwak the company’s artistic director and principal male dancer.He created it in homage to a beloved teacher with whom he and his wife, Yoomi Lee, studied.
The melodic score by Fritz Kreisler was visually realized with its flowing lyricism and the matching of certain dancers to the different musical voices.Like the music, the choreography often possessed a sense of fragile delicacy.
Six of the company’s older girls performed it with confidence, understanding and ease of execution. Mr. Kwak and Christina Stockdale danced a sensitive duet with nuanced allusions to the bittersweet emotions suggested by the music.
Ms. Stockdale is a new member of LVBC who (like the Kwak’s) formerly danced with Nevada Ballet Theatre. In addition to teaching at the Kwak Academy and performing with the troupe, she also dances in Tournament of Kings at Treasure Island Resort.Her debut with the company was distinguished by talent and professionalism.
Sleeping Beauty opened to a gold colored backdrop depicting a royal ballroom flanked by dual staircases. It was an effective scene that complimented the company’s stunning and colorful new costumes.
When presented as a separate ballet, Act III is often known as Aurora’s Wedding and requires a large cast. The Kwak Academy wisely took this opportunity to provide many of its younger non-company dancers a chance to perform on stage in a serious ballet production.
Inevitably, aspects of the performance resembled a school program, albeit a good one with the tots doing real ballet steps and ten year olds double pirouettes.The presence of the youngsters may have inspired the regular company members to set an example by dancing even better than usual.
The ballet was staged by LVBC’s co-founder and ballet mistress, Yoomi Lee.In many instances she was faithful to the original Petipa version usually performed by the world’s major ballet companies and in which she has frequently performed herself.
Mr. Kwak belongs to that rare breed of apparently ageless ballet dancers. As Prince Desire’ he looked and danced like a 20 year old. His technique was flawless and distinguished by clean positions, fluid movement, multiple pirouettes and various double aerial turns as well as superb partnering and stage charisma.
His Princess Aurora was 15 year old Monika Haczkiewicz.She gave a credible rendering, and was composed despite the challenges, and displayed lovely lines and extensions without raising them tastelessly high as she has done on occasion.
However, failure to close her feet in fifth position on pointe and inconsistent turn out detracted from an otherwise good teenage performance.
The youthful soloists and corps maintained ensemble uniformity and executed all the difficult hops on pointe, multiple pirouettes, eloquent poses and on-a-dime stops.They all deserve praise but it’s not possible to name each of them.
Particular standouts in the various Fairy solos were Alexandra Keft, Hina Agens, Antonia Neal and Aiste Cechaviciute.A new company member, Casy Vanden Berghe, showed exceptional promise.
“Until You Remember,” choreographed by Greg Sample, was another ‘extra’. It was set for 13 girls and Samuel kwak and gave the dancers the chance work in contemporary style which they did very well.
At the program’s conclusion Ms. Lee came on stage to congratulate and name those dancers who had just graduated high school and others who have been selected for training in summer programs offered by prestigious ballet companies around the country.
It must have been a proud moment for the dancers, their parents and, of course, their principle instructors and mentors, Yoomi Lee and Kyudong Kwak.