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The Wizard of Oz (Septime Webre)

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This new production, co-produced by the Colorado Ballet, Kansas City Ballet, and Royal Winnipeg Ballet, has received quite a bit of publicity, e.g.:



I saw the Colorado Ballet premiere Friday. It's a huge success for these companies. Colorado Ballet sold out 10 performances over two weekends before it opened. The KC director said in a news report that they sold more tickets last fall for their performances than even their Nutcracker. It will be performed in Winnipeg in May. News reports say that several companies have already inquired about renting the production, so the original three seem likely to recoup some of their shared investment.

It's easy to understand the attraction to families and ballet novices. It's chock full of impressive special effects, fast-paced and exciting, with clever and colorful costumes and sets. Lots of characters fly around on wires, adding to the excitement. The story is easy to follow. Charming use is made of students and little kids. Funny bits are integrated throughout, like the floss dance kids are doing everywhere. But I was also impressed (as I was with Septime Webre's Alice [in Wonderland], which Colorado Ballet performed a few years ago) that there is so much interesting and challenging choreography --  multiple turn sequences, high-flying lifts, complicated combinations.  The dancers have lots of opportunities to show off and even serious balletomanes have much to love. If this production visits your city in the coming years, don't hesitate to take a look.

The success of this joint production strikes me as a very good omen for the continued success of regional ballet companies in North America. Most of those audiences will never see ballet in New York City or London, but these companies are providing live performances of quite satisfying ballet all over the country. They're also providing paid work for professional dancers, a benefit that should never be overlooked. Ballets like Oz help subsidize more serious rep, like Kylian and Balanchine for these companies.

Choreographer Septime Webre is now artistic Director of the Hong Kong Ballet, after 17 years at Washington Ballet. I know nothing about the circumstances of his departure from WB. He has a gift for understanding what local audiences want to see and I'm glad he's sharing that with companies in North America.



Edited by California
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