Plano Metropolitan Ballet continued its tradition of presenting well-structured, kid-friendly ballets with the beloved classic tale Peter Pan at the Courtyard Theater in Plano Saturday afternoon.
The story follows Wendy, John and Michael Darling on their journey to Neverland with the young Peter Pan and his pal Tinkerbelle. In Neverland the Darling children encounter Indians, mermaids and the Lost Boys before they run into the notorious Hook and his band of pirates.
Choreographers Natalie Anton, Cloe Coleman, Cindi Lawrence Hanson and Katie Puder did an admirable job of incorporating new characters and movement into scenes without obstructing the flow of the performance. The placement of the adagio and more dramatic up tempo numbers also kept the performance moving and the audience engaged. The music ranged from John Williams and Dmitry Kabalevsky to Charles Gounod and Walter Murphy.
While most of the company appeared to struggle with the more sustained movements, i.e. devéloppé arabesques required in the slower numbers, the dancers redeemed themselves with their energetic jumps and quick pointe work in the fast-paced scenes.
The opening scene in the Darling’s nursery was a little lackluster until Peter Pan (Ruben Gerding) and Tinkerbelle (Stephanie Lee) arrived. Gerding is a true chameleon; changing from his typical princely role to that of a carefree and playful adolescent. His over-the-top personality and cheeky choreography had the audience laughing and saved a couple of scenes from growing stale. With her lithe frame and feisty attitude, Lee was the smart choice to play Tinkerbelle. Gerding and Lee ate up the stage with their continuous leaps and over-animated gestures before taking Wendy and her siblings off to Neverland.
Cera Taylor (Wendy) also stood out with her long legs and elegant upper body. However, her performance appeared timid at times. As she gains experience, she will be able to better project her movement to the back row and draw in the audience.
The large pirate scene was the liveliest number in Act 1. Their timing was on, their movement was clean and all dancers were fully committed to their characters. Smee’s (Kristina Banh) and the Crocodile’s (Katie Egger) exuberant personalities and individual quirks (Smee cowering in a corner and the Crocodile wiping away tears with its tail) made up for Hook’s (Iris Mollhoff) somewhat subdued performance.
The battle scene in Act 2 where Peter Pan and the Indians rescue Tiger Lily from Hook and his gang was the most creative scene in terms of choreography. The sword fighting was well rehearsed, spacing wasn’t an issue and the movement was exciting.
Even with a few whoopsie moments, Plano Metropolitan Ballet’s performance of Peter Pan had the whole package: inventive choreography, vibrant costumes, beautiful sets/props and larger-than-life personalities.
The performance repeats Jan. 12 at 3p.m. and 7p.m.; Jan. 18 at 7p.m.; and a Girl Scout performance Jan. 11 at 7p.m.
◊ Katie Dravenstott is a freelance writer and dance instructor in Dallas. Visit her blog at www.kddance.wordpress.com