BWW Reviews: Ballet Austin's THE NUTCRACKER Dances With Grace and Ease
This winter marks a momentous occasion for Ballet Austin. This year's The Nutcracker is the company's 50th annual production of the beloved ballet, and from my seat last night, I can say that this Golden Anniversary production is exactly that: golden. Helmed by choreographer Stephen Mills, this Nutcracker is full of life, beauty, and charm. Every moment is absolutely wonderful. It's doubtful that you'll find a production better than this.
Much of the success is owed to the brilliant staging and choreography by Stephen Mills. We all have heard some people bemoan that in their opinion ballet can be tiresome or boring, but here Mills keeps things moving along at a quick pace. Every moment is a feast for the eyes. Moreover, his choreography is beautifully tailored to the story, the moment, the characters, and the strengths of his dancers. The dances performed by his female performers are graceful and elegant. His men dance with strength, power, and athleticism, and sprinkled in here and there are some comedic moments.
While Act One is fantastic (the battle scene and the pas de deux between the Snow Queen and King are particularly memorable), the best bits occur in Act Two. The Waltz of the Flowers and Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy are absolutely beautiful. The precision and poise in the women featured are astonishing, and the routines are certain to inspire young girls in the audience to ask Santa for ballet lessons. The Russian Dance is another strong point wherein three of the most talented men in the company leap across the stage with unsurpassed athleticism and enthusiasm. But judging by the audience response, the most memorable moment is the Arabian Dance. Here, Mills's choreography is intricate and complex, yet dancers Rebecca Johnson and Christopher Swaim are able to handle the demanding partner work with ease.