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James Sewell Ballet's performance of "Pointed Humor" at St. Paul's O'Shaughnessy last weekend highlighted the dancers' buoyant physicality in three new works, and one repertory piece.

Choreographer James Sewell's "HumerUs," joins a long line of ballets that imagine dolls coming to life. "The Nutcracker" and "Coppélia," both based on stories by E.T.A. Hoffman, make up this tradition, as do ballets like "Die Puppenfee" ("The Fairy Doll"), created by Nikolai and Sergei Legat, and Ballet Russes' "La Boutique Fantasque" (The Magic Toyshop).

James Sewell Ballet premiered "HumerUs" last month at the Warner Miller Performing Arts Center in Big Sky, Mont., and showed it as part of "Pointed Humor" Saturday and Sunday. Dressed in striped costumes and moving with mechanical whimsy, the dolls easily broke free from the wizard (played by Sewell, in a cameo.)

Sewell's piece, like his "Doo-Be-Doo," from 1994, also performed last weekend, showcased the JSB dancers' considerable athleticism. Jaw-dropping high jumps, lifts and feats of strength done with easy grace filled both works. Sewell's skill at constructing clever configurations and shapes in the two dances, meanwhile, was apparent.

Another little-known ballet about a controlling wizard titled "Ballet des Porcelaines" ( "The Teapot Prince") is from 1739. A new adaptation by choreographer Phil Chan and producer Meredith S. Martin was performed at Northrop Friday and Saturday, challenging racist tropes of the original, where the villain is an evil Chinese wizard who turns his victims into porcelain.

Chan and Martin's adaptation was just one of many spellbinding works by top Asian American and Pacific Islander choreographers in "10,000 Dreams: A Celebration of Asian Choreography." The Northrop performance bears mentioning because the JSB performance also featured a new piece by Shohei Iwahama, who is originally from Tokyo.

Formerly a company dancer with JSB, Iwahama returned as a guest choreographer along with Michael Walters. In "Gathered, Now Shared," which premiered at the Warren Miller in March and presented at the O'Shaughnessy, Iwahama drew on a mix of Baroque and contemporary experimental music as he explored human connection. He took an elegant approach in the duets and larger group sections, and added dream-like elements, like one section where the dancers appeared to be swimming across the stage.

Walters' "undone…," which premiered at the O'Shaughnessy, channeled urgent emotion and was set to a thrilling score by Arvo Pärt. Javan Mngrezzo and Connor Simone, who were both impressive in all of the dances, stunned in this electric piece. Walters' choreography leaned into the dynamic tension of a charged relationship with intriguing investigations of spatial distance.

Lighting designer Kevin Jones, credited for the whole program, made bold choices in Walters' work that added to its allure. The lighting infused the dances with colorful punctuation in a varied concert that gave a platform for JSB's skillful performers.