Reviews

REVIEWS

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The Daily Californian - Dancing Moons Festival - Edith Matthias | April 2023

On March 16, the Oakland Ballet Company showcased its captivating performance of the “Dancing Moons Festival” at the Oakland Asian Cultural Center. This proclaimed “celebration of Asian American Pacific Islander choreographers” was refreshingly contemporary, moving away from the traditional Eurocentric mode of ballet.

 

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Dance Commentary - Graham Lustig's The Nutcracker - Heather Desaulnier | December 2018

Live orchestral accompaniment makes such a difference when it comes to dance performance! The last time I was at the Paramount Theatre for an Oakland Ballet Company program, I commented that at times, the recorded mix was so clippy and loud that it distracted from what was happening on stage. Not so yesterday for the opening of Graham Lustig’s The Nutcracker. As has been the tradition in past years, the Oakland Symphony, under the direction of Michael Morgan, and the Piedmont East Bay Children’s Choir joined the troupe for their annual pre-Christmas run of the story ballet. Live music combined with a festive narrative and splendid dancing made for a simply magical afternoon at the theater.

 

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Dance Commentary - Luna Mexicana - Dia De Los Muertos - Heather Desaulnier | November 2018

Downtown Oakland was abuzz Saturday afternoon as patrons flocked to the Paramount Theatre for Oakland Ballet’s program honoring the Day of the Dead. Entire families, including the youngest members, filled the aisles; the crowd was peppered with stunning Calaveras faces. Excitement and anticipation for the third year of OBC’s Luna Mexicana – Día De Los Muertos was palpable. What transpired over the next two hours certainly met those expectations – the dance and movement were truly delightful.

 

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Dance Commentary - Scene and Heard - Heather Desaulnier | June 2018

Oakland Ballet Company marked the transition from May to June with Scene & Heard, a selection of work dedicated to the breadth and range of story in ballet. For this program, Artistic Director Graham Lustig charged six choreographers with the task of creating short narrative ballets. The resulting commissions (three from within the OBC family and three from local choreographers) made for a terrific afternoon of choreography, danced by a company that is looking impressively strong.

 

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The San Francisco Chronicle - Scene and Heard - Allen Ulrich | June 2018

Most ballet audiences love a good story graphically told, but not all choreographers can spin a yarn successfully. That gift requires both instinct and training. So, bravo to Oakland Ballet Artistic Director Graham Lustig, who planned his company’s spring season around the art of the narrative. No fewer than six premieres by local dance makers filled the schedule.

 

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Oakland Ballet's Jangala - Joanna Harris | March 2018

All the staff, cast and dancers and especially Graham Lustig are to congratulated for this extraordinary production. It is wonderful to know that Lustig, is including the Oakland community in his outreach and reaching that community where they live, in the various neighborhood high schools. 

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Oakland Ballet's Jangala - Anoushka Agrawal | March 2018

There is something remarkably charming about the blend of the traditional with the contemporary — as if two completely different cultures and eras are merged into one. Oakland Ballet Company’s Jangala exemplifies this. 

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The East Bay Times - Graham Lustig's The Nutcracker - Sally Hogarty | December 2017

Some children in the Bay Area may have “sugar plums dancing in their heads” as the holiday season draws near, but just as many dream of something a bit more substantial – a nutcracker. Much more than the variety used to open nuts, this particular nutcracker can become real, magically turning its wooden self into a gallant prince.

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The San Francisco Chronicle - Graham Lustig's The Nutcracker - Allen Ulrich | December 2017

For Oaklanders, a sure sign that Christmas is fast upon us is sighting the 19th century balloon taxi that whisks heroine Marie to the Land of the Sweets. That glorious contraption was spied at the Paramount Theatre on Saturday, Dec. 23, when the Oakland Ballet Company opened its all-too-brief annual run of The Nutcracker.

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Critical Dance - Luna Mexicana - Bryn Namavari | November 2017

The show brought a cabaret feel to the ‘traditional’ setting of the Paramount, and in many ways was a lively street festival transported to the stage. While it is hard to put a finger on exactly what this show is other than to say it is a “revue,” the audience showed a truly amazing appreciation for the programming and stood out as one of the most exuberant groups to attend a performance in the locale. The entire evening was enveloped in a sense of pageantry: a mélange of traditions, exhibition and celebration. Many audience members embraced the spirit of the night arriving in fancy dress including painted faces, vibrant floral headdresses and even full-length gowns.

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ArtsSF - Luna Mexicana - Paul Hertelendy | November 2017

The Mexican counterpart to the European Day of the Dead is a joyous feast of color and vivacity despite all the skulls and skeletons dancing about the Paramount stage (as well as others who were ticket-buyers, watching from the prime seats out front, with elaborate face paint). The performance pace was breath-taking, the caliber of dance and music unassailable.

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