Spirits in the Night

-- Bob Wilcox

THE NUTCRACKER
Music by P.I. Tchaikovsky
Ballet Conservatory Company, in conjunction with the St. Louis Art Museum

The Ballet Conservatory Company's production of The Nutcracker in the St. Louis Art Museum auditorium is lots of fun. Colorful and well-costumed, its charming adaptations of the Petipa choreography allow young dancers a place in the spotlight and young audiences a sense of the ballet's festive splendor.

But just because the dancers are young does not mean they're unskilled. Mara Sexton-Steele, dancing the part of the Sugar Plum Fairy the night I visited the production, and her Cavalier, Tom Baltrushunas, did a long pas de deux full of technical accomplishment and surprise.

The corps de ballet was particularly effective in the Snow Scene, dark and sparkling at the same time. And Lauren Stromberg was particularly sprightly as the Rose in the Waltz of the Flowers.

-- Harry Weber

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