NMDT-PC breathes new life into classic ballet

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By Kirsten Laskey

Watching the first moments of the New Mexico Dance Theater Performance Company’s production of “The Sleeping Beauty” on a cold February night gave me the same feeling I experience when I notice spring bulbs poking through the snow and frozen ground. It’s a giddiness that something great is on its way. The gray and gloom of winter is dwindling.

Likewise, NMDT-PC’s “The Sleeping Beauty” offers all the sparkle, color and sweetness to escape a gray day.

The story begins with King Florestan (Bruce Lamartine) and the Queen (Carolyn Connor) celebrating their birth of the daughter, Aurora. However, trouble unfolds when the evil fairy Carabosse (Zoe Martin) arrives uninvited to the baby’s christening. What follows is a lot of magic, true love and a happy ending.

The choreography of this ballet is not easy. Even a person who is unfamiliar to this art form, such as me, can recognize that the dancers were presented with some pretty challenging choreography.

However, everyone in the cast really rose to the challenge and presented a wonderful rendition of this classic ballet.

In particular, Kendra Smale, who plays Aurora, performed like a prima ballerina. She danced with a lot of grace and professionalism. Additionally, Frank Macias, who dances as Prince Florimund also clearly showed his talents.

Recognition should also be given to the younger cast of dancers including Matthew Connor Davenport and Emily Brown, who portrayed Puss-in-Boots and the White Cat along with Justin Dunn and Akane Dunn, who danced as the Bluebird and Princess Florine.

Despite their young age, each of these dancing partners showed they could easily handle the pas de deux they were given.

It wasn’t just the dancing that made the ballet special; it was also the acting that dancers brought to their roles. Martin put a lot of finesse into her role and vividly portrayed her character’s wickedness.

In contrast, Hannah Taylor as the Lilac Fairy showed off her character’s sweet nature in helping to save the day.

Time and time again Susan Baker Dillingham, the director of NMDT-PC, has revealed her creativity and imagination in turning stories into ballets. She has taken Los Alamos to the land of Oz as well as Lewis Carroll’s Wonderland.

Her and her team’s creativity did not run dry in “The Sleeping Beauty.” The amount of detail in the sets from the silhouettes of trees in the castle windows to the sparkly gifts given to the baby Aurora is impressive.

I also loved how the forest of brambles and thorns are depicted in the ballet and how Carabosse makes her entrance into the castle during the christening.

Plus, the costumes are what every girl dreams she can wear in a ballet. They are colorful, full of tulle and sequins, and help every dancer shine in the spotlight.

Whether you watch “The Sleeping Beauty” for the dancing, the story or just to admire the costumes, it will not disappoint.

The final performance will be at 2 p.m. today at Duane Smith Auditorium. Tickets are $12 for adults, $8 for students and seniors and admission is free for children age 4 and younger.