April 5, 2019, was opening night for the Utah Premiere of Ballet West’s Onegin choreographed by John Cranko, based on the verse-novel by Alexander Pushkin. This story of story unrequited young love with tragic consequence had its 1965 world premiere in Stuttgart, Germany.
Ballet West’s Creative Director Adam Sklute says, “Onegin is considered by many to be one of the world’s greatest ballets, and it is quite an honor for Ballet West to be granted permission to present it.”
Set to music by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (naturally), leads Arolyn Williams as Tatiana and Rex Tilton as Onegin were excellent for this tragic ballet. Rex Tilton portrayed a mix of brooding and angst throughout the evening and when partnering Arolyn in the first pas de deux danced with convincing love and tenderness. Rex is an athletic dancer who is powerful, light on his feet and yet grounded and solid. Jenna Rae Herrera danced the role of Olga, Tatiana’s sister, the love of Onegin’s best friend Lensky, danced by Joshua Shutkind. Joshua was a standout for me; I believe he is a rising star for Ballet West. Joshua and Jenna’s pas de deux was a celebration of young love and happiness, and they had lovely chemistry as partners.
Musical Director Jared Oaks brilliantly took on a score that is both technical and fast-paced. As an amusing side note, the old characters who attended Tatiana’s Birthday party were captivating as well. Christopher Rudd and Sayaka Ohtaki were hilarious as a couple, and it was hard to not watch them instead of what was going on center stage.
With staging by Jane Bourne, the costumes and scenery were on loan courtesy of The National Ballet of Canada. The ombre colors of the skirts of the ballroom dresses and tights were captivating and with red drapery and glistening large chandeliers; you felt as if you were guests at the Prince Germin (Lucas Horn) Ball.
It’s most unique aspect was that while a “classical” ballet, Onegin was choreographed in the ’60s, which adds a modern feel with unique lifts, use of the hands, and difficult choreography and leaps. Very much worth attending, Onegin ended with a standing ovation and much applause from attendees.
See all of our dance coverage here.