A holiday ballet that's not the Nutcracker gets a gold star

Posted 10:41am on Saturday, Dec. 08, 2012

FORT WORTH -- Someone needs to give Margo Dean and Ballet Concerto a gold star for staging a ballet at Christmastime that's not The Nutcracker. The group's annual Holiday Special, viewed Friday morning in a school performance and performed for the public Friday night at Will Rogers Memorial Center, is more of a delight than usual this year -- and that's without any Clara and the Sugar Plum Fairy.

That is not to say that there aren't Nutcracker-like elements.

In fact, The Princess and the Magical Christmas Star, with choreography by Christine Hay and re-staged and directed by Webster Dean, has a familiar plot. A Princess (Michal Christian) gets a Mummer Doll (Robert Stewart) for Christmas, and with the help of a witch-turned-Winter Fairy (an enchanting Christa Beacham), it turns into a real man.

There are no mice, but lots of cute Elves (played by young Ballet Concerto students), a cow, reindeer, bunnies, butterflies and red bird in the forest scene. There's nothing too show-stopping with the choreography, but a couple of crowd-pleasing fouettes do the trick.

Margo Dean's Winter Wonderland (re-staged and directed by Webster Dean) features two pas de deux and one pas de trois (the dancers are Shannon Beacham, Christa Beacham, Ruben Gerding, Michal Christian, Caradee Cline and Stewart) is an enjoyable appetizer, performed with clean lines and solid pointe work.

Lori Soderbergh's Flamenco Hanukkah mixes Spanish dance with Hanukkah themes and music, with some kids joining flamenco dancer Perla Montoya for the final celebration. Montoya's finesse speaks for itself.

Dennis Parish and Margo Dean's O Holy Night, a nativity ballet, always closes the program. It's not as exciting as the dancing in Princess, but it's a good teaching vehicle.

Before each dance, Dean and/or Stewart explained the works, the moves and the stories. The children, bused in from schools all over Tarrant County, were rowdy at first but cooled down after experiencing the wonder of the arts.

That's why Dean, who has been teaching what she loves for a very long time, deserves more than a gold star.

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