Where the Wild Things Are

In addition to its artistic growth during the past decade, the Colorado Ballet has been very successful at expanding it's audience, and this season is a prime example of how they've accomplished that. Despite audience reticence following 9-11, the season opener, Dracula, was a huge success for the company, bringing in a whole new clientele caught up in the spirit of Halloween and the most famous of all vampire legends. This was followed by the always well attended seasonal rite, The Nutcracker.

Now, Maurice Sendak's famous children's book, Where the Wild Things Are, comes alive through the choreography of Septime Webre, replete with 10-foot-tall monsters and other phantasmagoric creatures. It is the story of Max, a rambunctious young boy, who is sent to bed without his dinner. Not to be tamed by his mother's scolding, he seeks his revenge by leaving behind the drab world of adults, sailing away in a sloop of his own invention to a magical land Where the Wild Things Are.

The whole idea of setting this best-selling children's book to dance was the author's own. Sendak also designed the décor and costumes. All this makes for great fun and satire. No wonder we side with Max when it comes to pushy adults—as he often does (remember the evil stepmother in Cinderella?), Greg Gonzales handles the hyperbolic bossy matron with aplomb; and the exaggerated rumps and manners of Max's relatives are simply hilarious.

The greatest challenge for the company was mastering the huge, clumsy costumes for the Wild Things themselves, but master them they did, enough for a monster mash that includes moon walking and a line dance. Webre's choreography even manages to slip in a series of classical dances by the Sea Creatures. The audience, at least half of them children, were delighted.

Where the Wild Things Are was preceded by Sachertorte which, as its name implies, is a series of sweet baubles set to Viennese waltzes, gavottes, humoresques, and other schmaltzy confections choreographed by Martin Fredmann, the company's artistic director. This served as an engaging introduction to classical movement for the young audience as well as a lively commentary on courting, coquettishness, and braggadocio for the older set.

The Colorado Ballet's production of Where the Wild Things Are and Sachertorte run through Sunday March 10th. 303-893-4100.


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