DALA’s Hansel and Gretel … Pure Holiday Enchantment

“Hansel and Gretel” performed by Cody Maggiore and Sally Grindstaff. Photo by TK Thompson/ladailypost.com

Ballerinas glide through the air. Photo by TK Thompson/ladailypost.com

Review by Bonnie J. Gordon

Dance Arts Los Alamos brings the magical world of “Hansel and Gretel” to the Duane Smith Auditorium for three performances this weekend. I saw the production’s dress rehearsal on Dec. 6.

The original ballet is directed and choreographed by Dance Arts Los Alamos Ballet Director Christin Severini, with additional choreography by DALA’s Executive Director Valerie Silks and ballet instructor Lisa Jaegers.

The story adaptation takes the siblings Hansel and Gretel on an enchanted journey from their family’s humble cottage to their encounter with forest creatures, fairies and animated candies, and finally with the Witch. The story is fun and magical, rather than scary and is suitable for even the youngest audience member.

Cody Maggiore, 14, and Sally Grindstaff, 15, do a wonderful job as Hansel and Gretel. Not only do they handle the dance aspects of their role well, both have good stage presence and manage to project the personalities of the young siblings.

Although they are teens, Maggiore and Grindstaff capture the lively energy of much younger children. Grindstaff is an energetic and mischievous Gretel and Maggiore presents a more serious and protective older brother Hansel.

The production includes dance students from toddlers to advanced ballerinas. Often older students take the lead, while younger students form an entourage. One of my favorite things about “Hansel and Gretel” was the youngest dancers, performing as bunnies, bees, pixies, fairies and candies. They are adorable and the choreography lets them show off their skills without being too complicated.

The older dance performers and instructors carry off the more complicated choreography well. The ballerinas capture the beauty and fantasy that is essential to a ballet—they are all princesses. Little girls will be especially enchanted. Holly Erickson as Queen of the Flowers is a case in point. She carries off the difficult choreography with grace.

Severini does a nice job as the humorous, rather than scary Witch. Isaac Gao, in the role of the heroic young Skunk, brings a terrific range of emotion to his role, in spite of being incased in a furry costume.

The sets are original and fun. The outdoor oven into which the Witch disappears is especially clever and the Gingerbread House is a marvel.

“Hansel and Gretel” will especially delight young children but it’s a show for the whole family. Who can resist cute tiny dancers and beautiful ballerinas in a familiar, but original fairy tale world?

Performances at Duane Smith Auditorium are 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 7 and 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 8 and Dec. 9.

Following the Saturday show, the youngest audience members are welcome to enjoy a first-hand experience of coming on stage and taking photos with the performers.

Tickets are $15/adults, $10 students/senior and free for children under age four, and are available at CB FOX, White Rock Smith’s and at the door.

Christin Severini in her role as the witch. Photo by TK Thompson/ladailypost.com

Colorful dancers. Photo by TK Thompson/ladailypost.com

Cody Maggiore as Hansel and Sally Grindstaff as Gretal with bees and bunnies. Photo by TK Thompson/ladailypost.com

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