Magazine article Pointe

Rowdy Toys Whack la Sylphide in Houston

Magazine article Pointe

Rowdy Toys Whack la Sylphide in Houston

Article excerpt

Rowdy Toys Whack La Sylphide in Houston

Talk about oil and water. Houston Ballet wrapped up its 2007-2008 Wortham Theater Center season in June by pairing August Bournonville's Romantic-era masterpiece La Sylphide with the première of Artistic Director Stanton Welch's punchy and percussive A Doll's House. While this mix presented a good challenge for these keen dancers, who transitioned with ease, it was hard for me to switch gears.

Hot young principals Melody Herrera and Connor Walsh debuted as the leads in La Sylphide. They were ebullient drawing cheers for their finely finessed footwork. Herrera's gossamer spirit shone, while Walsh's exuberance was contagious.

Yet something was missing. Both are fine actors and supremely musical dancers, but they haven't yet developed the emotional nuances that can elevate La Sylphide into something other than a silly story about James, the guy who forfeits his fiancée for a fairy. Give them time.

Veteran Barbara Bears was sharp and witty as Madge, the witch; Jessica Collado portrayed a sweetly innocent fiancée, Effie; and Christopher Coomer appeared commandingly good-natured as James' rival. Gum. The corps, buoyant in Act I's folk dance, could have used a little more air under the arms in Act It's woodland scene. Bournonville's slightly tilted torsos and delicate, rounded arms don't come naturally to many American ballerinas.

The movement for A Doll's House is highly stylized, too, but in a completely different way. It synchronizes with the beats of the István Marta score, a woozyclangy wonder layering just about every type of percussion instrument imaginable (all played crisply by four Houston Ballet Orchestra musicians). …

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