LVBC: BACK & BETTER THAN EVER
By: Hal de Becker
Not so long ago a number of Las Vegas Ballet Company’s dancers matured beyond ‘youth company’ status and their roles taken by younger ones.
The company’s latest performance at Summerlin Library Performing Arts Center displayed not only talented dancers and choreographers but also resiliency.
Because the troupe stages the great classical ballets on pointe with mostly the original choreography, intensive training and rehearsing have been required. The result was a resounding success for its recent ‘Summer Ballet Festival’.
The dancers were well prepared and in some instances artistically mature beyond their years. With professional guest artists and new choreographies by LVBC’s directors Kyudong Kwak and Yoomi Lee, and guest artist Summer Reese, the ‘Festival’ performance was one of the company’s best pesentations.
The popular classic ‘Paquita’ was the major work on the program. It debuted in Paris in 1846, but the 1881 version by Marius Petipa, with added music by Minkus, is the one that has survived. It offers an abundance of high spirited ensemble dancing as well as sparkling solos, trios and duets.
The ballet includes a pas de deux that is often performed alone as a show piece. LVBC’s performance of it by Ms. Lee and guest artist Voytek Ogloza was a standout.
Not long ago there were rumors that Ms. Lee was about to retire. Thankfully they were unfounded. Her beauty and graceful femininity, stage presence, sculpted lines and extensions, and 32 polished fouettes were a shining example of ballet artistry.
Mr. Ogloza, formerly of Washington Ballet, was a strong partner and his and soaring leaps impressive.
Two other guest artists, Laura Zimmermann, formerly of NBT, and Ms. Reese each executed a series of particularly challenging steps in their solos: Italian fouettes and brise voles, respectively. Both are as difficult to describe as they are to execute, so I won’t attempt doing either.
Many other solos were well danced, especially three which were enhanced by Alenssia Reinhart’s unique movement quality, Nao Hayakawa’s strength and exhilarating personality and Siera Millaudon’s solid technique.
Group dances were performed with skill, charm and unity, particularly the renowned mazurka which is traditionally danced by young students. In 1904 the legendary Nijinsky and his sister Bronislava danced in it in their teens at Russia’s Imperial School.
Mr. Kwak’s new work, ‘Somebody Loves Me’, was set to songs by George Gershwin.
The vivacious choreography received an uplifting performance from the twelve dancers, including the choreographer and Ms. Lee.
They performed a romantic duet with the superb professionalism and shared response to movement, music and the artistic temperament of each which only a ballet couple after years of dancing together can possess.
Both were engagingly carefree in this free style number with its varied elements of ballet, ballroom and jazz. His sleek masculinity in black and her coquettishness in red made a vivid visual impact.
The cast included Milles Zimmermann, Reinhart, Reese, Hayakawa, Millaudon, Madison Strider, Daniela Burgos, Katherine Candelaria, Yerin Baek, Monica Nordstrand, Mark Early and Samuel Kwak whose expressiveness would improve if he showed his pleasing smile more often.
‘Etudes-Pas de Trois’ also set by Mr. Kwak was a non-stop display of technical fireworks performed with appropriate bravura by Ms. Zimmermann whose radiant smile was a plus, Mr. Olgoza and Emilo Brito.
Ms. Lee choreographed a winsome vignette from Midsummer Night’s Dream set to Mendelssohn’s music. Ms. Reinhart as Puck was particularly effective. Her sensitivity to musical nuances, and expressive dance-acting brought the mischievous forest sprite to life. She has special talent.
Tots from the Kwak Ballet Academy performed as Fairies and were delightful showing their fledging ballet skills.
Ms. Reese’s ‘When The Lights Go Out’ was in modern mode using street dance, rhythmic robotic moves and group lifts. It was an enjoyable and original piece that augurs well for the future of the young choreographer.
One of the stars of the ‘Festival’ was the brilliant costuming. Especially impressive were the dazzling array of colors in ‘Paquita’; Ms. Lee’s gorgeous tutus, especially the gold and white; the shimmering short black dresses in the Greshwin; Ms. Zimmermann’s flowing white chiffon in ‘Etudes’; Puck’s fey look in ‘Dream’.