Striking, angry workers and sultry ill-fated passion are the backbone of Carmen, a North Carolina Dane Theatre production in Charlotte this week. I’ve left the ballet filled with awe plenty of times before, but I never left feeling like I needed to take a cold shower. Carmen is hot, hot, hot!
Mill workers, who are underpaid and overworked, decide to go on strike. National Guardsmen are called in to quell any potential threats. Carmen, the instigator of the strike movement, rallies the crowd against the Mill Owner and Guardsmen. She notices the handsome young Guardsmen, Joe, and is instantly attracted to him. He tries to ignore her teasing approaches, but he falls for her seductions. The Mill Owner sees this and has Joe arrested. As the strike movement progresses, mill workers gather on Carmen’s porch. A party atmosphere develops and Miller, a baseball star, enters; he is immediately smitten by Carmen. With two potential lovers, Carmen dances her way around both of them creating emanate disaster.
Carmen, danced by Melissa Anduiza, and Joe, danced by Naseeb Culpepper, had undeniable chemistry and the way she gracefully, yet provocatively, moved around him made me feel like I was about to witness something dirty. It was enthralling, yet I still focused on her precision and control. The elegance of her movements made even the most sultry scenes absolutely beautiful. She flung her leg around his neck and I saw her calf muscle flex… thinking about her perfectly pointed toes and her agile legs. I couldn’t see her as a seducer. It was like she was too beautiful to be bad.
Carmen and Miller, danced by Pete Leo Walker, were so darn sensual, though, that I’d forgotten that I was at the ballet. Rather than being dancers, they were two lovers on the stage. It was almost sinful, but in the most desirable way. It was like eating an entire double chocolate cake when you’ve been on a diet for a month.
I had to look at the artists page several times and go back to the cast page to make sure I had the name right when I saw Melissa’s profile picture in the program. A 4th season dancer with NC Dance Theatre, Melissa looks sweet and innocent but on stage she was such a fire-cracker that I won’t have believed it was her. It was an Oscar worthy performance.
I’d seen Pete Leo Walker perform before and I was, and am, always mesmerized by his dancing ability. As Peter Pan or Romeo, his dancing talent is remarkable. He is quite possibly the best male dancer I’ve ever seen perform, but it was his role-taking ability that stood out in Carmen. He matched Melissa’s performance and left me wanting more.
The only thing I was disappointed with this evening was that the show had to end at some point. I could have watched them for hours, never to sigh or look at my watch. It was enchanting. This one is definitely not for kids, but I can guarantee there wasn’t a wandering eye in the building regardless of gender.