Review: Sacramento Ballet opens on Valentine's eve with 'Wunderland' Special

Posted Feb 14, 2014 by W. Mark Dendy
The Sacramento Ballet opened Thursday, Feb. 13, with a Valentine's Day weekend program. The program of three ballets billed "Wild Sweet Love" was designed for the world class Sacramento Ballet with "Cupid" in mind.
 Wunderland  performed by the Sacramento Ballet.
"Wunderland" performed by the Sacramento Ballet.
The first performance was “Wunderland,” choreographed by Edward Lang to music by Phillip Glass. "Wunderland" was followed by "Acceptance," a world premiere choreographed by Ma Cong. And the evening ended with "Wild Sweet Love," a Trey McIntyre ballet.
Although, the execution of "Wunderland" was none other than exemplary, the artistic message brought about through the choreography left me, well - "wundering."
The ladies costumes were certainly inspired by romance. Red leotards with plunging necklines, while the men adorned flesh colored leotards and pants.
The theme that kept coming to mind throughout the performance was that of relationships and how complicated they can be. And not just romantic relationships, but all relationships, family, friends, colleagues. Demonstrated throughout the piece through a mix of modern dance and classical ballet were relationships - harmonious at times, but oft, very difficult and challenging.
The shapes formed through the movement of the dancers were very geometric and generally symmetric, as the dancers were put through the rigorous program.
The lighting was dramatic and fit the choreography well. Puzzling though, was the snowfall during parts of the ballet. It seemed very random and did not lend itself to any interpretation.
Lang said in an interview posted on YouTube that the idea came to mind when he was working in Russia and became fascinated with snow globes.
Rex Wheeler was able to shine in three acts he danced including in Act IV which he danced with the great Christopher Nachtrab and Mate Szentes. Wheeler with his curly hair and dimpled smile reminds me more and more of Nachtrab - he loves to dance and has fun doing it.
The final pas de deux was performed by Lauryn Winterhalder and Stephan Calka. Calka, a solid and serious performer coupled well with Winterhalder who demonstrated great technique and fluidity in her movements.
The brilliance of co-artistic directors, Ron Cunningham and Carrine Binda, once again was demonstrated by utilizing the right performers, coaching them in an un-limiting fashion to turn what could have been a lackluster performance into a stellar one.
There are only three shows remaining. Treat your Valentine to a spectacular show by the world class Sacramento Ballet.
February 14, 7:30pm
February 15, 7:30pm
February 16, 2:00pm
Get your tickets before they sell out!
Tickets for all shows can be purchased online or at the Ballet box office.