It isn't often that you can see a performance, which includes dancers from the smallest and youngest to high caliber professionals in a colorful, folktale of a ballet, and that makes you sit back and smile.
Arts Ballet Theater presentation of the Russian tale of “Chipollino,” in its second weekend of performances at the Broward Center’s Amaturo Theater, immersed audiences into the fantasy town of Lemonia (courtesy of backdrops by Elena Ford), where everything was larger than life and vegetables, fruits and flowers lived together happily. In this land, we embarked on the popular tale of Chipollino (onion) surrounded by his army of friends made up of strawberries, pumpkins, peas, apples, bell flowers, radishes and lettuces, all played by students from the school, each adorably and colorfully costumed by Jorge Gallardo.
The ABT professional company, known for their technical ability to execute hops on pointe, the highest jumps, and multiple turns, also has a humorous side. They carried this merry romp with a twinkle in their eye even as the chief tomato, boisterous Daniel Panameno, and Prince Lemon, guest artist, Keisuke Nishikawa, wove disarray into their happy village.
In a series of well-delivered divertissements, the audience was introduced to the characters of the story. Janus Liu and Kevin Zhong were endearing as Mr. and Mrs. Tangerine, Gabriella Rodriguez led her bell flowers with authority, the three lettuces were elegant and clean, and the versatile Mary Carmen Catoya as Countess Cherry was sassy and fetching,
The show was enhanced by the boyish charm and exceptional technical prowess of Kazuya Arima, who played Chipollino. His pas de deux with the charming Lillian Hill and the addition of a neat and secure Ms. Pear played by Yasamin Haghayegh was a highlight of Act I. Arima never failed to excite in his numerous high flying jumps and turns. Hill, Ms. Carrot, was Arima’s capable companion in his every scheme.
Act II takes place in the palace garden where the stronger dancers were featured. Hinano Eto, always a pleasure to watch, was turning especially well in this performance. Flanked by a leggy Lucien Hernandez, Liu, Renee Roberts, and Astrid Zuluaga, who was campy as Ms. Beet, the technical deliveries were assured and executed with ease and aplomb, even when it came to completing double turns from fifth position, always a difficult maneuver.
Catoya and Nishikawa were appropriately dramatic in their fun tango. Any partner with Catoya will rise to the occasion. She gives her all in every role.
A humorous jail scene and some keystone cops moments of delight during the chase scene where, in a shaft of light, each dancer outshone the next with their dynamic displays of virtuoso technique, added to the humorous tale. Throughout the performance, Hill never waivered in her persona and her consistent execution of technical demands. She is an easy dancer to trust.
This was a creative and enjoyable performance with a perfect mix of students and professionals, with everyone making the stage dance with color, joy and effervescent technique.