By Erica Meadows & Rob Steiner
Thousand Oaks, CA (The Hollywood Times) 9/26/18 – The Pacific Ballet Dance Theatre under the direction of Natasha Middleton kicked off its 17th season with a dynamic & sensual rendition of Bizet’s Carmen.
Elen Harutyunyan plays the flirtatious & mercurial Carmen with effortless movements of seduction & grace, embodying the woman that no man could resist. The pas de deuxs with her suitors were moments to get lost in, that she complemented with her technique & projection. Carmen herself is a force of beauty, poise & femme fatale and Harutyunyan captures all of this in her performance.
Carmen’s suitors & cast members include Grigori Arakelyan as the smitten Don José, Preston Swovelin as the dashing hot to trot toréador Escamillo & Alexander Fost of ‘So You Think You Can Dance’ fame as Remendado the smuggler. Highlights also include ballroom champions Nataliia & Oleg Lopareva in an exciting pas de deux of their own.
Middleton’s ingenuity as director & choreographer began with the arrangement by Rodion Shcherdin. The orchestration was banned by the Bolshoi Ballet in the mid-60s for being too erotic, inspiring her to bring its provocative themes to the stage. Her storytelling was enchanting & playful all at once, against the simplistic yet vibrant & colorful digital background behind them. The several group numbers with the toreadors & gypsies all had a wild frenzy of choreographed chaos that kept your senses piqued no matter which part of the stage you focused on. One particular seductive number featuring all the women in a chair dance was seamlessly woven into the fabric of classical Russian ballet & 19th century Spain with both an elegant and dominant feel.
The PBDT’s Carmen ran for three performances in Lancaster & Redondo Beach & culminated at the Thousand Oaks Civic Center on September 23rd. Be sure to check the PBDT website for upcoming works which include performances set to the music of Aram Katchaturian & his famous Sabre Dance.