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Review: Oklahoma City Ballet's 'Mowgli — The Jungle Book Ballet'

Oklahoma City Ballet opened its sixth season under the direction of Robert Mills with the sparkling and colorful “Mowgli — The Jungle Book Ballet.”
Published: October 18, 2013

Oklahoma City Ballet opened its sixth season under the direction of Robert Mills with a sparkling, colorful version of Rudyard Kipling's “The Jungle Book.” “Mowgli — The Jungle Book Ballet” was choreographed by Toni Pimble, artistic director of the Eugene Ballet, and premiered in Eugene, Ore., in April 2013.

Though the dancing was lively, clean and, in some places, outstanding, the real stars of the show were the costumes, sets and puppet designs. Most of the costumes included masks worn on the dancers' heads, meant to give a suggestion of the animal being portrayed. The costumes were brightly colored with a plethora of crystals, rhinestones or metallic ribbon to make them glitter with every movement.

The sets consisted of abstract jungle leaves hanging over the stage and large ramps on movable platforms. Many of the set changes were integrated with the choreography by having the dancers move the platforms.

The ballet was broken into scenes, with interludes of text projected on the front curtain to tell the story. This was a nice touch, as without the written narrative, it would have been hard to follow the story portrayed on the stage.

Yui Sato danced the role of Mowgli, depicting Mowgli as a little child with the help of a puppet, and then Mowgli as a young man, with a captivating combination of acting and dance. In the beginning of the ballet when Mowgli was young, Sato wore a simple dark jumpsuit with the young Mowgli puppet attached to the front, allowing him to walk and use his arms to move the puppet.

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