Places & Faces
Area Ballet Companies Present Holiday Dance Extravaganzas
10/30/2018 1:19:53 PM
Holiday Extravaganza


The holidays can be a busy season but be sure to make time for Christmas entertainment! Two local ballet companies have been diligently rehearsing in their studios to bring you high-quality classic Christmas stories told through the art of dance. Tickets for both performances can be purchased at the Civic Center box office or through their websites.

Lake Area Ballet Theatre Presents The Nutcracker

The Nutcracker Ballet was first performed at the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, Russia, on December 17, 1892. Several variations of this original ballet have been staged over the decades, including Balanchine’s version for the New York City Ballet in 1958. Lake Area Ballet Theatre (LABT) will present this iconic production in the Rosa Hart Theatre, November 15 - 17.

Colleen Cannon Benoit, LABT’s artistic director, says their mission is to provide a full-length ballet every fall, as well as a spring performance. The Nutcracker was last performed by LABT two years ago, but now they will make the show an annual event. "We decided because Nutcracker is such a traditional ballet, and the public embraces that ballet, we’ll do it every year,” says Benoit. "I believe our community is growing enough to support an annual Nutcracker production.”

Follow lovely Clara and her Nutcracker as they battle the menacing mice. When the Nutcracker slays the Mouse King, an ancient spell is broken and the Nutcracker is transformed into a handsome prince. Watch in wonder as Clara and the Nutcracker Prince meet the enchanting Sugar Plum Fairy. Snowflakes, led by the Snow Queen, entice them to the land of Sweets, where darling young dancers portray children from around the world. The LABT production will feature a cast of over 150 local dancers, as well as returning guest artist Ramon Gaitan, who performs the role of Cavalier.

Benoit strives to maintain the tradition of The Nutcracker in the style of Ida Clark, who established the Lake Charles Ballet Society for Ballet Joyeux, but enjoys adding a few interesting twists. "The majority of the costuming and choreography is traditional, however, in the past few years, I’ve added some special elements to highlight the tradition,” she says. "This year, I added another pas de deux with guest artist Troy Gabel, who recently graduated from Lamar. We’ve added more children to some of the Act II variations.”

Benoit has also added a fun aspect to the opening Parlor scene in the first act. "We’ve invited eight adults – four men and four women – from the community to take part in the Nutcracker. Some have a background in dance, some do not, and some will be on stage for the first time.”

Benoit encourages the community to jump start their holiday season by coming out and enjoying The Nutcracker. The sets, the costumes . . . when the curtain opens, the colors are vivid. It’s a treat for your eyes!

School performances are scheduled for 9:00 a.m. on Thursday and Friday, Nov. 15-16. Performances will take place on Saturday, Nov. 17, at 2:00 p.m. and 7:00 pm. lakeareaballettheatre.com.

LCCB’s Rudolph Brightens the Rosa Hart Theatre for their 50th Anniversary

The Lake Charles Civic Ballet (LCCB) performs original productions and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is no exception. The company has been thrilling audiences with this Christmas classic every few years since 1968. "It’s been 50 years since this all began with my mother, Lady Leah Lafargue, along with Debi Buras White (former costume designer and long-time associate director), and John Singleton (former technical director),” says LCCB artistic director Lady Holly Hathaway Kaough. "We’ve kept Rudolph true to its classic foundations; however, it has grown and evolved over the past 50 years. Our original version was shorter and some of the music was different.”

The elaborate sets and lavish colorful costumes make the stage pop, but it’s the talented dancers who entertain, amuse, and bring the show to life. The opening scene pays homage to the true nature of the Christmas season with a beautiful dance of Mary with the Christ child in the manger. Then Santa and Mrs. Claus guide the elves through a frolicking scene at the North Pole. Humor is paramount, as these young performers enthusiastically dance across the stage with wrapped presents and a myriad of toys. The elves take Santa’s list across the globe and discover international dancers veiled in gauzy shadows behind a screen.

We meet Rudolph when Santa checks to see if the reindeer are ready for their annual journey. Rudolph tries to make friends, but the other reindeer shove and snub him and his blinking bright red nose. Despondent, the little reindeer runs away into the forest.

On Christmas Eve, snow and fog threaten Santa’s trek around the world. Enter the exquisite Snow Queen, shimmering in a sparkling blue tutu and accompanied by a flurry of graceful snowflakes.

Back at the reindeer stable, Santa realizes Rudolph’s shiny nose can save Christmas. Through the magic of theatrics, the audience sees only the beacon and imagines Santa and his sleigh passing through the rows of theatre seats, up into the balcony, and back towards the stage for the grand finale.

"We are 50 years old but we’re still creating new,” says Kaough. We have not lost sight of our mission, which has been to be a place of creativity. It is important to motivate and ignite the passions of this next generation of artists in the Lake Area.”

Performances take place December 8, 2018, 11:00 a.m. matinee and the Gala at 6:00 p.m. in the Rosa Hart Theatre. School performances take place on Dec. 6-7. www.lakecharlescivicballet.com.
Posted by: Angie Kay Dilmore | Submit comment | Tell a friend

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