Review: 'Rubies' proves to be a gem for the Sacramento Ballet Special

Posted Oct 29, 2013 by W. Mark Dendy
Last Thursday night's 2013-2014 season opener of the Sacramento Ballet celebrated the genius of Igor Stravinsky and his music with three works.
Alexandra Cunningham and Christopher Nachtrab perform a pas de deux in the ballet  Rubies.
Alexandra Cunningham and Christopher Nachtrab perform a pas de deux in the ballet 'Rubies.'
Sacramento Ballet
Rubies, the centerpiece of George Balanchine's famed three-part ballet Jewels was performed first in the Sacramento Ballet's 59th season's line-up followed by The Firebird and The Rite of Spring.
The opening of the roughly 20 minute long piece was stunning as the curtain rose to reveal vivid ruby red costumed dancers set against a deep aqua tinted backdrop. Each "jewel" standing motionless, then moving in synchronicity.
Ava Chatterson performed a near flawless solo, her lengthy frame resiling with such beauty as she danced about the stage with amazing high kicks, surrounded by a host of other “rubies”, flirting and chasing, often prancing about.
This set the stage for the playful pas de deux with Sacramento Ballet veterans Alexandra Cunningham and Christopher Nachtrab who took command of the stage and delivered that jazziness that is paramount to both the music and the movement of Balanchine's work. Both dancers demonstrated their versatility, separately. yielding and delivering individuality – together, dancing as if extensions of each other.
Nachtrab did not, as is his style, refrain from having fun, jockeying around Cunningham as she dispensed hip jutting and gyrating action that was not so long ago taboo.
Chatterson reappeared for the finale lighting up the stage with the other jewels, the corps de ballet. As the tempo picked up a bit, the dancers were feeling the greatness of the changes that Balanchine had brought to the art and the way he had intended this remarkable work.
As always, the Sacramento Ballet did not disappoint its audience, and in spite of the still depressed economy which greatly impacts the arts, artistic directors Ron Cunningham and Carinne Binda, began this season with the same promise and same energy that they came to Northern California with 26 years ago – to bring the best of ballet to the Sacramento community