The Civic Center Music Hall was decked out in holiday finery, with lighted garlands festooning the balconies and an enormous Christmas tree in the lobby, making a perfect setting for the opening night of Oklahoma City Ballet's “The Nutcracker.”
Choreographed by the company's artistic director Robert Mills and accompanied by the Oklahoma City Philharmonic, conducted by maestro Joel Levine, “The Nutcracker” sparkled with beautiful dancing and good cheer, proving once again that OKC Ballet is getting stronger and stronger.
In Mills' production, the role of Clara is danced by one of the company dancers rather than a child. On opening night, DaYoung Jung as Clara captivated the audience with her brilliant dancing and acting. Switching from the simpler dances with the children in the first act party scene to a lovely pas de deux with Yui Sato during the snow scene, Jung was engaging throughout. She looked like she was having fun during the entire ballet.
All the children did an excellent job and were well rehearsed, from the tiniest white mouse to the more advanced angels dancing en pointe.
The Land of Snow is always a “Nutcracker” highlight, and this year was no exception, featuring a new, more challenging choreography for the 14 corps de ballet snowflakes. Dancing against a glistening snowy backdrop, their technique and timing were impeccable.
The second act opened with a burst of color in the Kingdom of Sweets, where Clara was welcomed by the Sugar Plum Fairy, danced by Miki Kawamura, and her Cavalier, danced by Alvin Tovstogray. Kawamura made an elegant and gracious Sugar Plum Fairy, seeming warmer and more comfortable in the role this year. Tovstogray was all that a Cavalier should be, strong and chivalrous as a partner, with clean and effortless beats in his solo variation.