Unlikely Love

In Beauty and the Beast, choreographer Robert Sund and the members of the State Street Ballet have produced a perfect synthesis of music, costume, setting, choreography, and performance. This story of love and redemption moves from heartbreak to exaltation as a captive falls in love with her captor and transforms him through love. Although seemingly simple, the performance was anything but, as the dancers created a lavishly rich tapestry of fairy tale and love story. Sund chose the score from a selection of Tchaikovsky’s work. Unlike the saccharine Disney version, Sund’s vision, which was inspired by the 1946 Jean Cocteau film, is lavishly textured, magical, and ultimately satisfying.

The company performed beautifully in roles that deviated from classical ballet in their creation of a world of magical animals and sympathetic faeries. In his role as Beauty’s father, Micah Kurtzberg portrayed a convincing range of emotions, from distraught to joyous. As Beauty, Corina Gill was a vision. It was no stretch of the imagination to see how the Beast fell for her, as she was very light of heart and foot. Gill is new to the company this year, and she is a graceful addition.

Ryan Camou transformed from the tortured, angst-ridden Beast to the exuberant Prince with Beauty’s kiss. Oh, that it were always that easy, that a kiss could make a beast a prince. After, the couple shone in an expressive pas de deux, and Camou defied gravity with a dazzling grand jête and series of turns.

Beauty and the Beast, presented by the State Street Ballet. At the Lobero Theatre, Sunday, January 29.

Other dancers contributed performances that fleshed out the fantastic mood. Silvia Rotaru’s lead faerie leapt from a dream. Autumn Eckman and Alyson Mattoon were gorgeous demi soloist faeries, and Sergei Domrachev (in drag) provided his usual delightful comic relief as one of Beauty’s sisters. Jennifer Batbouta purred as a sinuous cat and Jennifer Rowe portrayed a flitting magical bird, both creatures who kept the captured Beauty company in Beast’s castle. Eduardo Zuniga and Yuan-Ming Chang were sinewy stags, herding captured prisoners into the eerie castle. Through Sund’s use of gestures and movement, and the dancer’s embodiment of the images, the animals, faeries, and lovers came alive on stage, delivering us into the forest of our darker nature before offering us the redemption of pure love.

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