‘Firebird Ballet’ and ‘Oh! My Mozart’ bring a magical experience to UTEP

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Angel Ulloa

Julian Maldonado, Lesley Lopez, Gabriela Moreno and Jeffery Quintana take part of the cast of “Oh! My Mozart” and “The Firebird.”

Julia Hettiger, Staff Reporter

The UTEP Department of Theatre and Dance has done a whimsical job with their productions of “Oh! My Mozart” and Stravinski’s “The Firebird.” The productions, which are performed together but have no ties with each other, fuse together dance, music and visual effects to create an entertaining and charming experience.

“Oh! My Mozart” is comprised of multiple acts full of character and charm that explore stories ranging on a variety of topics. In total, the performance has ten sections, each with its own unique story. The stories all differed significantly from each other, but the performers, with their talent and charming demeanors, were able to flow with the next performance.

The stories intertwined elements like humor, love and loss effortlessly, and there were moments when the audience went from laughing to feeling somber in an instant. The first act, “The Strolling Players,” showed the marriage of “Figaro Overture” before transitioning to the more humorous “Simian Serenade,” which featured a dancing jester and a charming gorilla.

The next act, “Turkish Tappy,” presented a cute attempt of a mother trying to set a girl up with her son, all while tap dancing with a Mozart look-a-like playing the xylophone. The quirkiness of the production continued throughout the sections, especially including section five, “Transylvania Tryouts.” This section took a darker, more paranormal turn with its story by having the dancers perform in front of a backdrop of a haunted-looking castle, making the section a humorous outlier. All of the sections pulled together into one cohesive production made for a fun time. All in all, the performers did a great job with the show.   

The “Firebird,” contrary to its production counterpart, told one comprehensive story. The tale, and performance altogether, was a little more serious than “Oh! My Mozart,” and the performers executed the gratifying tale with grace. The story, which is based off a Russian folktale, follows a young prince named Ivan, who is played by Julian Maldonado, senior dance major, as he encounters the Firebird, a magical being with immense power, who he works together to save their kingdom from the evil sorcerer, Katschei. In the end, the kingdom is saved and Ivan is able to marry a Tsarevna, a Russian princess.

The dancers in “The Firebird” were extremely impressive. Lesley Lopez, a guest artist in the show who played the pivotal firebird, was able to make it look like her character was floating across stage with her dancing, and it was very enticing. The colors, including the ones used in the props and costumes, really brought the show to life. The dancers seamlessly wove the story together with their performances, and the way they brought the story to life was engrossing the entire time.

Both performances were put on by the UTEP Department of Theatre and Dance. “Oh! My Mozart” was choreographed by Myron Howard Nadel, a Julliard graduate and the Associate Dean for Fine and Performing Arts at UTEP, and “The Firebird” was choreographed by Lisa Smith, Head of Dance at UTEP. Both choreographers did a wonderful job with the performances, and the shows are two that should not be missed.

“Oh! My Mozart” and “The Firebird” will be performed at The Wise Family Theatre Feb. 18, 19, 20 and 21. For more information, contact the Department of Theatre and Dance at 747-5146.

Julia Hettiger may be reached at [email protected]