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Spontaneous cheers sprang out from the audience when Susan Baker-Dillingham took the stage following the opening night performance of Snow White at Duane Smith Auditorium Friday. The audience had just experienced her marvelous interpretation of the Brothers Grimm classic tale and could not hold back their appreciation.
The incredibly gifted Baker-Dillingham, founder/director of New Mexico Dance Theater, is a master at developing character on stage. Even her youngest dancers appear transformed into another world.
As a gentle snow flows softly from the heavens in the opening scene, a queen sits in front of her palace window sewing. She pricks her finger and sees drops of crimson blood fall on the snow. "If only I had a child as white as this snow, with hair as black as this ebony frame and lips as red as this blood," she thought.
Her emerald jewels sparkling, the queen, portrayed beautifully by Kelly LeVan, begins to dance with her king, portrayed in a solid performance by Monty Wood. Soon after their dramatic dance, Snow White is born and the queen dies.
The opening sequence, which includes a lovely performance by a trio of ballerinas - Natasha Roberts, Larissa Fortson and Zoe Martin, sets a high standard that remains constant throughout the three act production.
Kendra Smale is delicate, yet powerful in her exquisite portrayal of Snow White, who after growing into a beautiful young woman, is poisoned by a jealous queen. Anna Bridge is stunning in her role as the jealous queen. Her delightful dancing is clearly an audience favorite.
Snow White is awakened by Prince Charming's magical kiss. Christopher Bomet, appearing courtesy of The School of Aspen Santa Fe Ballet, is wonderful as Prince Charming. Dancing together at their wedding, Bomet and Smale gracefully blend their considerable talent. It's a joy to watch these rising stars.
Guest artist Peter Strand portrays the mirror. He is perfection.
Snow White's instantly endearing dwarfs capture the hearts of the audience throughout the second and third acts with their lovable and comically expressive antics.
Every member of the chorus, from very young children to adults, are to be commended for their important contributions to this highly entertaining event. The sets, music, lighting, costumes, hair and makeup blend seamlessly with the captivating choreography of this marvelous two hour production.
The community has one more chance to experience it - 2 p.m. today. Tickets are available at the door. For information about New Mexico Dance Theater, access www.nmdt.org.
Editor's note: Kelly LeVan, who portrays the queen, is managing editor atthe Monitor.