Dance Review : LeBlanc Meets the Challenge of Tough Joffrey 'Nutcracker'

Dancing her third Southland "Nutcracker" production in as many weeks, guest artist Tina LeBlanc brought ideal refinement and musicality to her performance as the Sugar Plum Fairy in the previously reviewed Joffrey Ballet version Thursday afternoon in the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.

Perhaps because the Joffrey role is longer and more technically demanding than what LeBlanc danced for San Francisco Ballet and Pasadena Dance Theatre earlier this season, its opportunities for variety of attack allowed a more complete statement of her artistry. Unfortunately, her partnership with Tom Mossbrucker didn't always go smoothly and, like Adam Sklute as the Snow King, Mossbrucker seemed to tire quickly after a promising start.

As the Snow Prince, Guillermo Leyva matched bravado with elegance, while Jenny Sandler offered decent technique and a forced grandeur as the Snow Queen--but plenty of molten pliancy in the Arabian dance opposite hard-working Roberto Machado. The tastiest divertissement desserts, however, were the hot, spicy Spanish chocolate of Maia Wilkins and the sweet, energy-rich Chinese tea of Gregory Russell and Kim Sagami.

Even when doing parlor tricks, Jerry Kokich played Drosselmeyer as solemnly as if he were auditioning for "Parsifal." However, his interpretation did generate an aura of mystery that's as close to E.T.A. Hoffmann as most productions ever get. Jennifer Goodman performed capably as Clara but looked too old for the role next to the real children onstage.--LEWIS SEGAL

* Joffrey Ballet, "The Nutcracker," Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, Music Center, 135 N. Grand Ave., today through Wednesday at 8 p.m.; today and Tuesday, 2 p.m. (No performances Sunday and Monday.) $15-$60. (213) 972-7211.

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