Dance Review | What you missed Ballet Internationale sticks close to the original E.T.A. Hoffman story we"ve come to call The Nutcracker. BI"s staging is framed by Hoffman ambling around his room getting creative juices flowing. Once inspired, his imagination takes shape in "the movie of his mind" with the starts and stops and twists and turns of an author in the process of building a story. He casts himself as "the mysterious Herr Drosselmeyer" and places a child, Clara, on the brink of adolescence - still playing with dolls, yet full of imaginative flights of freedom from her bothersome brother, Fritz. The work ends with Hoffman triumphantly completing the manuscript while the image of Clara asleep on the chair cradling her Nutcracker doll, still dreaming, arrests the originator"s attention.

Rebecca Jones in Dance Kaleidoscope"s holiday show, which was last weekend.

With a cast of some 80 young dancers from the Academy of Ballet Internationale, including the roles of Clara and Fritz (Emily Momberg and Cory Linger, on Dec. 19), there is a natural excitement that jumps across the footlights. The opening night performance to Eldar Aliev"s surprise-filled choreography wasn"t technically flawless, yet it didn"t seem to matter because the production was so full of joy. Made no less so because of a cameo appearance by 4-year-old Sophia Banker, whose dream of being a ballerina was matched between the Indiana Children"s Wish Fund and BI. Sophia was diagnosed with a brain tumor in May, followed by surgery. With opening night star presence, Sophia went gliding off on the magical boat ride to the Kingdom of the Sweets with Clara and the Nutcracker Prince. At curtain call she curtsied and accepted the bouquet like a pro. While Sugar Plums and other treats inhabit The Nutcracker, Dance Kaleidoscope gives food a twist of love in David Hochoy"s sensuous choreography. For this reviewer, it"s a feast of international cuisine imagery inspired by around-the-world music. Though seen before, new dancers make us see new things, as each stamps a bit of individuality onto the piece. The men"s riff on macho bravura especially clicked. The partnering throughout was sheer fun, with double takes. Cynthia Pratt"s Suite for the Holidays puts into motion lyrics to our favorite Christmas songs. It"s simply stunning. Observed during a rehearsal to check on lights, sound and costumes, the program nonetheless sparkled. We expect opening night to be roundly applauded. Display cases at Pike Performing Arts Center"s new wing showcase a dozen or so sets of costumes from DK"s repertoire. It"s worth a visit whenever you"re in the neighborhood. Call BI at 637-8979; DK at 940-6555.

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