Friday, October 16, 2009


The boys and I attended the Columbia Classical Ballet production of The Hunchback of Notre Dame this evening at the Koger Center. Choreographed and staged by Radenko Pavlovich, it was a very nice first production of the season and both boys seemed to enjoy it, especially Joey, who I think not once took his eyes off the stage. Even Chimo was in minimum-wiggle mode. Many thanks to Myra Nelson for blessing us with tickets.

The Forest Acres-based company has grown to more than twenty dancers now, and at times the stage seemed, well, a bit overpopulated at times. In fact, one of my few criticisms of the show would be the crowded stage---the constant distraction, for me, caused by the moving about and chatting and posturing of the background characters, especially with such a large large support cast. . .both regular dancers not currently involved in the performance, adults in costume, and a large portion of the kids' company. Not that it was that much of a problem, but I felt at times that they took away from the performance of dancers being spotlighted on the stage. And those dancers were wonderful.

The costumes and set were very nice. The boys thought it was funny that we could see the reflection off the stained glass, even in the darkened state, when the Notre Dame was raised and lowered; I chucked that maybe the secondary title should be, "ballet of the Flying Cathedral." I liked that there was a much greater role for the kids in this performance than in the Wizard of Oz, and I thought the younger dancers comported themselves professionally and well.

Overall, I enjoyed the second half over the first. This was a new production for me and it was a nice change; there were also quite a few newcomers to watch, as well as some holdovers from the last few years. Zolton Boros did an exceptional job as Quasimodo, a role that must be fairly difficult for a dancer, having to contort oneself when dancing. He was expressive and convincing. Kaleena Burks sparkled as Esmeralda, though at times I think they could easily have incorporated a little more "gypsy" music and moves into her role, maybe made her a little more alluring (not to say she isn't beautiful), even let her hair down at some point (although that may not be how it is done in ballet). One of the lead male dancers, Aoi Anraku, had a bit of an off night as he struggled with some of his lifts, stumbled and fell on a spin, and almost lost it at least one other time. Yet, in portions he was wonderful, and had some nice, graceful leaps. I think they should really rethink the costume of Frollo though, making it a darker, more menacing style. Our friend Waldilei did not have as much of a role as I would have liked. The young Journy Wilkes-Davis is maturing as a dancer right before our eyes, getting stronger with every performace. I bet the women loved it that he had trouble keeping his torn shirt on in one scene. One of my favorites, Akari Manabe, was as lovely as ever and I can't help but to watch her when the corps is on stage. She and Kaori dance nicely together.

Luckily, in the second half, which I thought was much better---more colorful and exciting (except perhaps for the crowd in the background)---my friend Renata Franco (the company's Ballet Mistress) got a much large role, and she was wonderful. Her partner in much of her section, Kazuki Ichihashi, was also very strong. I admit that I am not exactly sure how Diana and Acteon fit into the whole story, but I enjoyed it nonetheless, and I think the crowd did as well. Oleksandr Vykhrest and Lauren Frere were also solid in their performaces. I think the march of the monks could have been accompanied with slightly more "churchy" music (maybe organs)---in fact, overall I was not impressed with the musical score. . .it just didn't seem to mesh well with what was happening in the dance at times. And, someone should tell the female dancers not to wear large earrings when they are in the monk habits! :) I am not sure why that bothered me.

Overall it was a very nice performance and was well received by the audience. Attendance was pretty good, which we need to support dance (and we have quite a few companies locally). I got to meet some parents of former CCBC dancers, and a dancer from Starrett's company came over and chatted as well. I look forward to seeing the Nutcracker and Alladin. Good job guys and gals.


  1. thanks Jim!!That was a nice review!!

  2. Overall a nice review, but obviously you are not very educated about ballet.

  3. I don't think I claimed to be well versed in ballet (which of course, I am not), though I am learning. However, your comment does not indicate where my misjudgements were. You should defend your comments when you make a snide remark about someone. Since I was generally complimentary of the performance, I take it you did not think much of it, which is probably why you signed in anonymously. You are more than welcome to elaborate on your comment.

  4. I think what anon. may be referring to was that large earrings on monks is a key feature of their portrayal in ballet, which you were obliviously too unschooled to know . . . . ?