Saturday night, on our way to the MCL Grand Theatre my daughter urged me to, “hurry up Mom!” She was excited to participate in the pre-performance workshop that LakeCities Ballet Theatre was offering for children. It was a joy to watch her learn and dance the children’s mazurka from the ballet Paquita. After a mini performance of the newly learned mazurka, my daughter and I enjoyed watching LakeCities Ballet Theatre perform their spring show, Music in Motion…a variety of works (the balcony pas de deux from Romeo and Juliet, Giselle variation and our favorite Paquita) staged by artistic director, Kelly Lannin.
If you are a fan of Romanticism and have an obsession for exotic cultures and faraway places, then Paquita is the ballet for you! The mazurka is a traditional folk dance that was performed during celebrations…popular with Hungarians and the Spanish. Music from Ludwig Minkus and choreography from Marius Petipa sets the stage to travel to nineteenth-century Spain.
The wedding-party for the beautiful Paquita (Mackenna Pieper) and Lucien (Steven Loch) was a joyful celebration of a Spanish gypsy named Paquita, who saves the life of Lucien, a French aristocrat. When she discovers that she is herself of noble blood, they marry in a big celebration. The children`s mazurka opened the happy celebration of the couple.
Paquita’s friends demonstrated virtuosity in their solo dances. I especially enjoyed Olivia Lambert’s powerful dynamics and Carley Denton’s Spanish confidence that was thrillingly full of detail. Ali Honchell, Michelle Lawyer and Shannon Beacham captured the lightness and controlled noble presence in their pas de trois.
Paquita (Pieper) was expressive through every single fingertip (it was as if her fingers were passing through water) and epitomized the Spanish dance manner by using her head and her eyes to speak to the audience. Loch (from Pacific Northwest Ballet) was spontaneous and impressive to watch. He responded to the music with a wild pleasure…I shiver to think how it would have looked if the music was live! Gasp!!
The LBT company reflected the aristocratic elegance of nineteenth-century Spain. The classicism and Spanish-styled épaulement captured the aura of the romantic period. The dancers of LBT are elegant in presentation, and the level of technique is exceptionally skillful and professional. My daughter said it best at the end with her little arms over her head, she shouted a sweet Whoo-hoo!!
Photo credit: Nancy Loch Photography