Dance Critic: Is Minnesota Ballet’s “Sleepy Hollow” Real Or Just A Legend?

The dress rehearsal for “Sleepy Hollow” on Thursday night was a lot of fun to watch. As the story unfolds, the love triangle involving schoolmaster Ichabod Crane (Reinhard von Rabenau), local badass Brom “Bones” Van Brunt (Sean M. Sullivan) and charming Katrina Van Tassel (Ximena Azurmendi) steps up. The two lead men have also portrayed their characters well, as they fight for the affection of the girl they love.

Rabenau as Ichabod plays the role of an uncompromising teacher in his class but loses his mind to the charming Katrina. Rabenau’s strong technique is apparent during his solo variations which included high jumps and numerous turns. Its elevators in partnership were well executed but had some difficulties.

Sullivan, as “Bones”, plays a bit of a thug who lets jealousy get the better of him. He has strong movements and expressive facial expressions that really embrace his character and make him believable. Sadly, Sullivan injured his shoulder on a lift to Hope he recovers quickly and can perform this weekend.

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Azurmendi like Katrina was magnificent. Her dance was delicate, but clean and beautifully executed. The characterization of her role was sweet and charming. Although she seemed to be a better fit for Sullivan, due to her height she showed excellent pose and a smooth transition while pairing up with the two men.

The corps de ballet worked well together. I couldn’t take my eyes off the pretty port de bras, the carriage and the facial expressions. These women and men demonstrated elegant long lines with solid technique. It was wonderful to see Naomi Doty dance again after a long hiatus due to injury and Sarah White returning from maternity leave. A handful of students from the School of the Minnesota Ballet also perform.

Sandra Ehle’s costumes were simple but flowed beautifully over the dancers. Lighting director Ethan Hollinger did a great job putting the right emphasis and ambiance. While the scenographer Jeff Brown has brilliantly, although uncluttered, created a setting just enough to transport the audience to another place and another time. But wow! The Headless Horseman stole the show.

Overall, the dance in this show was lively and energetic. I really enjoyed the variety of folk and classical genres. The choreography was impressive. Intricate patterns and spacing created a moving work of art. And the difficulty of the lifts was the highest that I have seen this business perform. However, I would have liked to have seen the men use their crease more to soften and rectify their landings.

This exciting new production from Sleepy Hollow isn’t too scary and is suitable for all ages. What a great way to kick off Halloween.

If you are going to

Where: Marshall Performing Arts Center at the University of Minnesota Duluth

When: Friday, October 29 and Saturday, October 30, 7 p.m. Sunday October 31, 2 p.m.

Tickets: minnesotaballet.org or at the door

Kelly Sue Coyle reviews dance performances for the Duluth Newsstand.