Four stars

Butler Ballet, Clowes Memorial Hall, April 20-22

Butler Ballet, at its best all season, closed with a strong company of dancers whose focus and professionalism made this seeming fairy tale of a youth falling in love with a mechanical doll poignant as a rite of passage from young adulthood to marriage and active connection with community. Adair Keller and Brandon Ragland brought to Swanhilda and Franz the balance of petulance and responsibility to make them believable as young lovers still testing the waters. They superbly showed growing trust in each other in a succession of lifts. Everyone else in this large cast equally warrants mention because each sparkled even while dancing splendidly as corps de ballet, and most certainly in solos so representative of young men swaggering and young women coyly flirting. The secretive darkness of Derek Reid’s Dr. Coppelius counterpointed James Cramer’s effusively open Burgermeister. Michelle Jarvis masterfully melded diverse Butler faculty choreography for a seamless flow of events on a 19th century spring festival day in a remote village in the Austrian province of Galicia. Richard Auldon Clark led the Butler Ballet Orchestra to perfectly couple with dancers.

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