Another Classic From Las Vegas Ballet Company

By Hal de Becker

 

Las Vegas Ballet Company is a new, youthful troupe dedicated to performing the classics.True to its word, It recently delivered splendid performances of “Swan Lake Act II” and “Paquita” at Summerlin Performing Arts Center. At the same venue last week it presented its second season of “Nutcracker Excerpts.”

 

It was founded and is directed by two gifted artists who are also its principal dancers:Yoomi Lee and Kyudong Kwak. The husband and wife team were principals with Nevada Ballet Theatre (NBT) for ten years and before that with South Korea’s Universal Ballet.During their careers they worked with world class choreographers from whom they garnered their wide knowledge of the classical ballet repertoire.Kyudong was the first Korean dancer invited to be a guest artist with Russia’s St. Petersburg (Kirov) Ballet.

 

Some of LVBC’s dancers have trained at American Ballet Theatre, Kirov Ballet Washington D.C., Austin Ballet, Academy of NBT and the Kwaks’ own academy.

 

 

LVBC’s “Nutcracker Excerpts” may not have been as elaborate a production as some other companies’.But what it lacked in glitz it made up for with heartwarming choreography and dancing that stressed the ballet’s elements of family and Christmastime.

 

There was a welcome emphasis on the children’s performances.Especially appealing were the tiny tots and the teeny weeny tiny tots.Did those adorable little ones remember all their steps?No.Were they always with the music?No.But their occasional faux pas drew ‘oohs and ahs’ and warm applause, and put a smile on every face in the audience.

 

Ms. Lee and Mr. Kwak danced the complete Act II Grand pas de Deux: the adagio, two solo variations, including the Sugar Plum Fairy’s, and the demanding coda.Their rendering was elegant and technically brilliant. They performed the originalIvanov/Petipa version which is so perfect for Tchaikovsky’s glorious melodies and thrilling crescendos that one wonders why any choreographer would want to change it –but some do.

 

Thirteen year old Isabella Schleiker, danced Clara, on pointe, in the Snow Kingdom scene with enough warmth to melt real snow.She was tastefully partnered by Mr. Kwak in a pas de deux which displayed her long slender lines and mature technical assurance.This pretty youngster is a prodigy who may be destined to become an important dancer.

 

Among the varied dances of the Act II divertissment the Arabian and Chinese were outstanding.But the most memorable was the fiery Spanish dance performed with style and temperament by its four ‘senoritas’; and the Waltz of the Flowers in which the 16 ladies seemed carried along on a wave of lilting music and graceful choreography.

LVBC’s board of directors recently announced that the troupe is now a ‘non-profit’ corporation and that tax-deductible contributions are very much appreciated. I’ve been told that each of the company’s four recent Nutcracker performances was sold out.I’m not surprised.

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