Category: Los Angeles Ballet

Dance review: Los Angeles Ballet polishes 'The Nutcracker'

December 5, 2011 |  5:01 pm

Continuing to establish itself as a spirited and sophisticated -- if itinerant -- ballet company, Los Angeles Ballet opened its 2011-12 season over the weekend at the Alex Theatre in Glendale with a memorable cast for its distinctive, inspired “The Nutcracker.” 

As helmed by artistic directors Thordal Christensen and Colleen Neary, Los Angeles Ballet’s “Nutcracker” delivers an admirable depth and intelligence of design combined with a light-handed approach to the ballet’s traditional Christmas-party characterizations and plot line.


Catherine Kanner’s luscious Act 1 setting is 1912 Los Angeles, an interior drawing room so plush and timbered that even with its electric lights it still feels redolent of Tchaikovsky’s time.  

Inhabiting this velvety parlor, the pale, winsome Clara (Mia Katz) and her incandescent Uncle Drosselmeyer (Nicolas de la Vega) make a poetic pair, and it’s easy to root for their partnership.  Usually an aged, menacing creature, Drosselmeyer is drawn here as blessedly young and gregarious. De la Vega’s sweeping gestures and scampering feet swell to light the whole stage.

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Dance review: Los Angeles Ballet dances 'Giselle' at the Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center

May 15, 2011 |  2:26 pm

For all the opening-night jitters and imperfections, Los Angeles Ballet gave a credible, even moving, performance of “Giselle” on Saturday at the Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center. The essential Giselle experience remained intact: Love survives the grave, bestows forgiveness on an unworthy bad boy and transforms him into a decent human being. Hmm. Sounds like the plot of a movie or two, or a dozen. 

EntBlog_Photo330 Giselle is a village girl courted by a prince disguised as a peasant. She falls in love with him, but when she finds out his identity -- and that he’s engaged to someone else -- she loses her mind and dies. End of ballet? Not by a long shot. In Act 2, she appears as a spirit newly enrolled in the ranks of the Wilis, night creatures that wreak vengeance on perjured suitors. Giselle resists her new duties and saves her prince.

Allyssa Bross danced the title role with appealing sweetness and vulnerability. She made her mad scene nuanced and sparked with creepiness, and if she had some unsteadiness in her ghostly extended balances, she more than compensated elsewhere with poise.

Giselle’s character is straightforward, but that of Prince Albrecht is ambiguous. Is he merely dallying, really in love, torn between court and country? Unfortunately, Christopher Revels gave no clear take on the prince’s motives, although his repentance and sense of loss at the end looked genuine. Revels danced with princely bearing, partnered with consideration, and executed his second act marathon challenges with strength, though he looked more on the edge of real rather than dramatic exhaustion.

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Dance review: Los Angeles Ballet’s 'Celebration' at the Alex Theatre

March 6, 2011 |  2:45 pm

Death did not quite become her. Sonya Tayeh, a commercial choreographic star, is no stranger to Los Angeles Ballet, having made work for the company last year.  To help commemorate the troupe’s fifth anniversary, Tayeh returned with a new work, “My Greatest Fear,” a beautifully danced but overwrought opus exploring the angst-ridden aspects of thanatophobia. 

Los-angeles-ballet Seen Saturday at the Alex Theatre as part of L.A. Ballet’s program “Celebration” (coming next to Redondo Beach and UCLA), Tayeh’s 25-minute journey was sandwiched between two George Balanchine numbers new to the troupe.  Equal parts “Night of the Living Dead” and Edvard Munch’s “The Scream,” Tayeh’s work was set to elegiacally familiar scores by Max Richter and Arvo Pärt.  Staggered walks, fist-to-face motifs and crucifixion poses punctuated the piece, with unison cowering and upraised arms also contributing to the melodrama. 

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Monster Mash: Obama celebrates Kennedy Center Honors; 'Spider-Man' actress injured

December 6, 2010 |  8:45 am


Executive presence: President Obama presided over the Kennedy Center Honors on Sunday, which recognized Broadway composer Jerry Herman, dancer and choreographer Bill T. Jones, Oprah Winfrey, Paul McCartney and country singer Merle Haggard. (Los Angeles Times)

Accident: Actress Natalie Mendoza is recovering from a concussion she sustained last week when equipment fell on her head during a performance of "Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark" on Broadway. (Wall Street Journal)

Sense of humor: Steve Martin has penned an editorial about the 92nd Street Y's decision to offer an audience refund after a recent talk featuring the actor-comedian. (New York Times)

Smelly: A replica of the Venus de Milo statue made from panda dung has been purchased for approximately $45,000 by an art collector. (Agence France-Presse)

Speaking out: The Assn. of Art Museum Directors has issued a rebuke to the Smithsonian Institution and the National Portrait Gallery in Washington for censoring a work of art included in the exhibition "Hide/Seek." (Los Angeles Times)

Controversial moves: A look into the Philadelphia History Museum's decision to sell off more than 2,000 items in the last few years. (New York Times)

Money problems: The Louisville Orchestra in Kentucky has filed for bankruptcy. (Lexington Herald-Leader)

Favorable odds: Glasgow-born Susan Philipsz is considered by bookies to be the favorite to win this year's Turner Prize. (BBC News)

Also in the L.A. Times: Art critic Christopher Knight on the Smithsonian Institution's failure to stand up to what he says are anti-gay bullies; Knight on the Getty's new exhibit, "Imagining the Past in France"; theater critic Charles McNulty on the Wooster Group's "Vieux Carré" at REDCAT; the Los Angeles Ballet turns 5 years old.

-- David Ng

Photo: President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama at the Kennedy Center Honors on Sunday. Credit: Gary Fabiano / Getty Images

A retrospective: Los Angeles Ballet turns 5

December 5, 2010 |  8:00 am

Los Angeles Ballet
Institutions are living beings with their own distinct energies and auras. Watching one appear, grow, stumble, recover and mature can be a fascinating spectacle.

I don't know anyone personally at Los Angeles Ballet, but when I was asked to write a five-year retrospective on the company, I found myself producing more of an advocacy piece than I had intended.

That surprised me.

I first watched Los Angeles Ballet as staff dance critic at The Times, reviewing its inaugural performances. But before that I reported on its formation and initial plans, along with those of two other ballet companies that failed to get off the ground.

I watch it now as a civilian, not uncritically but with an investment in years. In a way, I am part of its history. That doesn't make what I have to say important, but it is informed by seeing what a lot of other companies were dancing in the Southland during the same five years and balancing their achievements against those of this struggling, can-do local entity.

Click here to run my analysis of Los Angeles Ballet.

-- Lewis Segal

Photo: The Los Angeles Ballet 's February performance of "Serenade." Credit: Los Angeles Times.



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