I’m a bit late adding this one, but I reviewed Diablo Ballet’s latest for Monday’s Chronicle:

“Until a year ago, Walnut Creek’s Diablo Ballet relied on heavy donations from a single sponsor. Now, as the chamber troupe moves bravely and steadily toward firmer financial footing, Artistic Director Lauren Jonas is making the most of her next best bankable asset: Nikolai Kabaniaev.

Diablo Ballet’s press spin would have you believe that co-Artistic Director Kabaniaev’s “Once Upon a Ballroom” – premiered over the weekend at the Dean Lesher Center for the Arts – is a major new step for the company, its first “full length” ballet. In fact, it’s more of the same. For more than five years, Kabaniaev has reliably produced economically staged ballets that cleverly repackage everything from “Carmen” to “Cinderella” to the Taj Mahal. They’re lighthearted, colorful and quick, and they give the dancers opportunities to show off their technical chops, if not their subtler emotive and interpretive abilities. Clocking in at less than 90 minutes, including intermission, “Once Upon a Ballroom” easily fits this bill.

It’s not going to win any awards for dramaturgy. The material being repackaged in “Ballroom” is opera, and what a curious repackaging it is.”

Click here for the full review.

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