The Oklahoma City Ballet is ending its 2013-2014 season with a new ballet choreographed by Artistic Director Robert Mills. “Beauty and the Beast” is an ambitious, large-scale production that premiered for the press at the Thursday night dress rehearsal.
The final performances of the three-show run are 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday at the Civic Center Music Hall, 201 N Walker.
Accompanied by the Oklahoma City Philharmonic, playing a score written especially for the ballet by Kermit Poling, who also conducted the orchestra, “Beauty and the Beast” lived up to its name with beautiful dancing and creative storytelling far outweighing a few “beastly” moments.
Despite significant difficulties Thursday night with lighting and set cues, and a few rough spots with the orchestra, all of which should be fixed by the actual performances, the ballet’s real strength was in its choreography and dancing.
The costumes, designed by Linda Pisano, were superb. The dancers were transformed from Prince into Beast and from people into statues, lights and even a few delightful pillows danced by students from the school of OKC Ballet. Throughout the ballet, there were unexpected and entertaining stage effects that helped tell the story and engage the audience.
As Belle, principal dancer Miki Kawamura was luminous, expressing an innocent sweetness with a core of steel. She has a delicacy of movement, with exquisite lines and lovely feet.
Principal dancer Ronnie Underwood danced the role of the Beast, pulling the audience into his transformation first into the Beast, then through sacrifice and love, back into the Prince.
Kawamura and Underwood both have glowing stage presence, and together they are powerful. Their pas de deux at the end of the ballet had spectacular lifts and beautiful partnering.
Company artist DaYoung Jung also is dancing as Belle during the run, while Underwood and principal dancer Yui Sato are splitting time as the Beast.
The last scene of the ballet, with the Enchantress’ spell broken, and all of the cast on stage dancing, provided a satisfying, uplifting finale and a happy ending.
The OKC Ballet of just a few years ago could not have attempted a production like this, and although there were some flaws, kudos to the entire company and artistic staff for a new and exciting ballet.
— Kathleen Redwine, for The Oklahoman
‘Beauty and the Beast’
•When: 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday.
•Where: Civic Center Music Hall, 201 N Walker.
•Information: 848-8637 or www.okcballet.com.