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Pacific Northwest Ballet

  • Quick Tip: From the Costume Shop at Pacific Northwest Ballet (PNB)

    We first published this blog entry almost exactly 4 years ago. It remains one of our all time favorite tips: How to create an elegant and very "Degas"  tutu look on a budget. Enjoy this re-post.

    In 2006, Fleming Halby (then director of Pacific Northwest Ballet’s Seattle school) staged the only surviving scene from August Bournonville's "Konservatoriet". Class Act Tutu was honored to provide the white romantic tutu skirts for that performance.

    PNB School's "Konservatoriet "  ©Rex Trainter PNB School's "Konservatoriet " ©Rex Trainter

    The staging of this piece has always provided a great inspiration to us in how to create a beautiful classic look reminiscent of the early French ballet.   We were lucky to get to spend some time in the PNB costume shop learning how Victoria McFall created this lovely vision.   Here is what we learned.

    What you need:
    1. White Leotard
    2. White Romantic Style Tutu skirt
    3. Satin Ribbon
    4. Sheer Fabric for Sleeves
    5. Nude Elastic

    The Leotard
    • Start with a camisole style leotard. Remove the straps and replace them with nude elastic.
    • Create a pattern for an off the shoulder sleeve with a gusset. Here are some views of PNB’s sleeve and pattern:

    Sleeve with Gusset Sleeve with Gusset
    Sleeve and Pattern Sleeve and Pattern
    PNB Sleeve Pattern PNB Sleeve Pattern

    • Here you can find instructions for making your own pattern for gussets.
    • Stitch your sleeve onto the leotard

    Sleeve with gusset sewn to leotard Sleeve with gusset sewn to leotard

    The Skirt
    • Start with a romantic style tutu skirt. PNB used Class Act Tutu’s Romantic Style 5-Layer skirt in a mid-calf length.
    • Edge stitch a nice satin ribbon onto the waistband at the top and the bottom. Victoria used pale blue and white for Konservatoriet.

    Satin Waistband & Bow Satin Waistband & Bow

    • Sew down a faux bow if desired.

    This idea can be used for many different tutu looks and combining a professional quality tutu skirt with an inexpensive leotard can stretch your costume budget.

  • Talking to People

    by Madison Rayn Abeo

    The Fairy of Beauty

    The

    Yesterday was the last show of Pacific Northwest Ballet's Sleeping Beauty. I was fortunate to be able to volunteer to help as a greeter in the lobby before the show and during intermissions. The Pacific Northwest Ballet School gives dancers in the upper levels, the chance to wear one of the costumes from the ballet, and talk to patrons in the lobby, taking photos and talking to people about the ballet! All the dancers love to wear the beautiful costumes, but I also really love talking to people. The adults ask about my dancing and I am able to tell them about upcoming shows I am in (told a lot of people about Pinocchio!) and the little kids love touching the tutu & pointe shoes and taking photos. Sometimes just getting down on the little kids levels, asking their names and what their favorite part of the ballet has been so far - is enough to make their day! It helps make their experience even more magical than Pacific Northwest Ballet already makes it! I am very grateful to have the opportunity to do it!

    Madison is a student at Pacific Northwest Ballet.  For more information and to follow Madison's journey towards becoming a professional ballerina check out her Facebook page, Madison Rayn Abeo: Support and Update Page.
    Photos:  Mariangela Abeo

  • Pacific Northwest Ballet's Director's Choice is Top Notch

    Pacific Northwest Ballet principal dancer Carla Körbes and corps de ballet dancer Joshua Grant in the world premiere of Christopher Wheeldon’s Tide Harmonic.  The newest ballet by Mr. Wheeldon is presented by PNB as part of DIRECTOR’S CHOICE, May 31 – June 9, 2013. Photo © Angela Sterling.

    Pacific

    Casting a luscious cherry on top of the company's impressive 40th anniversary season, is Pacific Northwest Ballet's Director's Choice - a triple bill highlighting a gorgeous World Premiere and classic favorites.

    The evening opened with George Balanchine's Agon - a fun, jazzy piece filled with glorious shapes, "legs for miles" and sassy brilliance. Joshua Grant and Ezra Thomson were particular standouts in this piece, each having grown by leaps and bounds this season as captivating, soulful artists. (I'm personally looking forward to seeing more from them next season!)

    The second piece, Christopher Wheeldon's world premiere, Tide Harmonic was every bit as awesome as one would expect - perhaps even more so! Here Wheeldon's brilliance creates a watery world of tantalizing delights; from sultry deep sea blue costumes to soothing aquatic lighting (hat tip to Randall Chiarelli), to an all-out gorgeous pas de deux featuring Carla Korbes and Joshua Grant. Quite honestly, it was here that the full scope of this gentleman's artistic development was brought to the forefront. In fact, he reminded me just a bit of (dare I say...?) Olivier Wevers. Time will tell what becomes of this unique partnership, but for now all I can say is, "Bravo!"

    The evening came to a close under the brilliant glow of Balanchine's 'Diamonds'.  This elegant piece features a shimmering chandelier, glittery tutus and jeweled tiaras - the kind of sweeping backdrop every little girl (and girl at heart!) pictures on her wedding day. Diamonds showcases the very best PNB has to offer, with its sweeping movements, delicious partnering and "Viva Imperial Russia!" opulence.

    As this banner 40th season comes to a close, it's clear that Pacific Northwest Ballet is just getting started.

    Director's Choice runs through June 9th. For tickets, please visit PNB.org.

  • Madison Abeo - An Interview with a Rising Star

    Young dancers spend countless hours in the studio developing their skills and artistry. While you will often find their peers hanging out at the mall or movie theater, these hard working young men and women will deny themselves the typical pleasures of teenage life for the promise of a shining dance career.

    Madison Abeo, a level VIII student at Pacific Northwest Ballet School, is one such dancer who recently caught our eye. We were not only impressed with Madison's classic beauty and winning smile, but by her charisma, work ethic and dedication to both her family and her art. This young lady is the living, breathing definition of a "class act" - and we're thrilled to introduce her to all of you!

    Ladies and gentlemen, Miss Madison Abeo...

    Grace:  Madison Abeo

    Grace:

    Hello, Madison. Please share about yourself and how you got your start in ballet.

    I was 3 years old and my family and I were living in Zambia, Africa. We had traveled there while I was young to do work in the villages. My parents put me in a local ballet class because I was clumsy and always tripping over my feet. We lived there for 2 years and when we moved back to the states I took classes at a small ballet studio in Monroe, where the teacher was a Cornish graduate. She encouraged me to audition for Cornish and then I danced there for 4 years before moving to PNBS.

    When did you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that a career in dance was right for you?

    When I did my first Nutcracker performance at Cornish, and played the role of Clara – I knew I wanted to dance professionally. Its hard to explain how it made me feel, its something only a dancer understands. I dance because of the feeling I get when I dance, there really is no word to describe it.

    Many locals are familiar with your father's "artistic" side. Can you share a little bit about your family with our readers?

    My dad is local rapper RA Scion, who was in a group called Common Market. My mom manages his music and the business side of things. He has had music videos on MTV and done 5 or 6 CD’s. I am in a few of the videos. We have had an exciting life. I have been to huge concerts and danced on stage with him at Bumbershoot, Sasquatch Festival, and toured to several cities him on the road when I was younger. I have seen the fun side of music festivals, the VIP and green rooms, the backstage life is something that is the same in music as it is in dance.

    How has their influence affected you? Are they supportive of your career or did they caution you against it?

    I don’t feel like they have influenced me in the way of dance. Neither of them are dancers, but they did influence me with how I perform and work. Both are very hard workers. My dad taught me the value of not only hard work but how important the quality of a good performance and show is. How to be a humble and a grateful performer and how to work to do your best for the sake of the audience.

    You've had the opportunity to meet and work with many local artists - both in music and dance. Can you share a little about that? What were some of your most favorite projects?

    I have worked with a few bands and danced in their music videos. My favorite music video was for a local group called Alabaster. It was a fun atmosphere and they gave me a lot of artistic freedom. I was also asked to work with STG/Paramount for their annual DOORS fundraising event, where I was honored to have Olivier Wevers choreograph a piece for me to perform, and PNB was nice enough to loan me a costume. I was the only classically trained ballet dancer highlighted that night, and I got to meet some amazing people that donate to the arts.

    What programs are you looking at for summer?

    I auditioned for 4 schools, ABT New York, San Fran Ballet, Boston Ballet and Houston Ballet and I was grateful to get into all 4! I have recently made the decision to attend San Fran Ballet summer intensive, after discussing it with my parents, my teachers I decided it was best for my future.

    Even with partial scholarships, summer intensives can be quite expensive! Unlike many students, I've heard you're actually working to help off-set some of the costs associated with your intensive. Tell us a little more about that.

    Yes they are very expensive! I am always shocked at how parents can afford to send their kids every year to these programs that are $4-7,000 and then you have airfare, spending money, etc. My family has never been able to afford such things. I am grateful to my grandparents that have helped with the costs in the past. Now that I am old enough to help work to earn the money, I have been babysitting and saving every penny! I also have created a Facebook fan page, at the suggestion of my Aunt, and people who had no children for me to babysit, that wanted to donate and invest in my future. It means so much to me that so many people not only believe in me, but that they are helping me reach my dream.

    Working, going to school and taking dance class...that's quite a load! Please share what a typical "day in the life" is like for you.

    A typical day for me is – waking up around 6:45am to get ready for school. Packing a lunch and all of my school and dance gear. School until 1:30pm, and I attend the Center School, which is at the Seattle Center, so I just walk to PNB from there. I take about an hour to change, tape my feet and stretch. Then class, which is always on pointe at this level (Level VIII) is from Mon-Sat from 3:00 until 5:30. I stretch briefly after class, get home around 6pm, eat a quick dinner. Then if it’s a Friday, I babysit from 7 until Midnight or spend the rest of my night doing homework. Saturdays are usually the longest dance day, my level dances from 11:30am until 4pm and I arrive early at 9am to take the Pilates class that is provided to help with my core strength.

    strength

    Strength:

    Many young dancers have strong mentors in their lives who encourage and inspire them. Who are your mentors and how important has their influence been to your success?

    Some of the people I consider to be mentors are Olivier Wevers (Former PNB Principle dancer and director of Whim W’him dance Co.), Andrew Bartee, Sarah Pasch (PNB dancers), Rena Robinson-Steiner (Former PNB Teacher and dancer with Dance Theater of Harlem), and Colleen Dishy (former RAD and Cornish college teacher). In one way or another, all of these people have spent one on one time with me, giving me advice, encouragement and have been amazing examples for how to be the best dancer I can be.

    You've also done some modeling for Vala Dancewear. Can you share how that partnership came about?

    My mom likes to take photos for fun and some of the pictures caught the eye of an amazing dance mom (You! Lol) who gifted me a leotard and my mother took photos of me in it. Rebecca, the owner loved the photos and was so nice - gave me even more leos for my mom to take photos of me in! I love the leos because they are a great twist of classic styles, they are comfortable and SO much more reasonable than some of the other brands. The most recent photoshoot we did was with professionals, La Vie Photography / Bamberg Fine Arts Photography – in which I wore Vala leos AND Class Act tutus. It was kind of a fashion ballet photo shoot, with some partnering photos that included my class dance partner Levi Teachout. We spent all day taking photos in different tutus and outfits, and we have already seen a couple of the shots and they are so beautiful! I am so excited to see how the rest turned out!

    Beauty:  Madison Abeo

    Beauty:


    Okay...loaded question time! Who are your favorite dancers?

    My favorite dancers are: Carla Korbes (PNB Principle dancer) – She is the perfect dancer. Not only does she have amazing feet, lines and expression – she is one of the nicest and most down to earth ballerina’s at the ballet. She is kind, humble and smiles at you when you say hi. When I watch her dance, she takes my breath away. Lucien Postelwaite (Ballet Monte Carlo) was the main reason I wanted to dance with PNB. He is a star. The perfect blend of grace and strength. As a younger dancer and before he left PNB, I often said I wanted to someday dance a piece with him! Andrew Bartee (PNB dancer) can do things with his body that I have never seen other people do. He is a true artist and isn’t afraid to be himself.

    Is there anything from your past (dance or otherwise) that if you could - you'd change?

    My parents have taught me that all of the challenges we face help make you who are now, so I don’t think I would change anything!

    Developing as a dancer and artist takes dedicated, consistent effort and tons of "sweat". How do you stay so motivated?

    Family, friends and my passion for dance is what keeps me going.

    Do you have friends outside of dance? If so, do they support you in your efforts?

    Yes I have friends outside of dance. My true friends understand my passion for dance, they often ask me about my progress and shows and they know how much it means to me to have them at performances, so they come to as many as they can.

    What is your "dream" role?

    My dream role is of Odette/Odile in Swan Lake. I have always been mesmerized by the beautiful upper body movement of that role. The back and arms are amazing in that part. Also it is a huge test as a dancer to be able to play the pure and dark side of a character, really pushes you to the limits! I hope I get the chance to someday dance that role.

    A dancer's career is often very short. What can you see yourself doing after the final curtain goes down?

    I want to stay in the dance world, I would love to teach classes. I love kids and I think I would do well as a teacher.

    What final piece of advice would you give to other young dancers out there?

    Don’t make yourself try to fit into the “box” that some people and teachers think you need to be in order to be a good dancer. Its unrealistic. Instead, be the best dancer you can be by working on your strength and being healthy. Most of all, respect your teachers, they may not dance anymore, but they all were amazing when they did. They have learned tools that will only make things easier if you just listen. Lastly, dance is hard – on your body and on your spirit. Make sure you love it and that the love shows when you dance, or else its not worth all the pain and effort.

    To see the rest of the photos from the shoot Madison did with La Vie Photography – and to visit Madison’s dance support page, please visit https://www.facebook.com/MadisonRaynAbeo .  You can see Madison dance next in an excerpt from Balanchine’s Serenade – performed by the Level 8 dancers as part of the PNB School’s, End of Year performance on June 15th , 7pm at McCaw Hall.  Tickets can be purchased by visiting http://www.pnb.org.

  • In a Relationship!

    Huffington Post has an in-depth interview with Pacific Northwest Ballet's Artistic Director, Peter Boal and Principal Dancers, James Moore & Kaori Nakamura about Jean-Christophe Maillot's version of Roméo et Juliette.

    Pacific Northwest Ballet Principal Dancers James Moore & Kaori Nakamua in Jean-Christophe Maillot's Roméo et Juliette.       Photos: Angela Sterling

    Pacific

  • Valentine’s Day with Seth Orza & Sarah Ricard Orza

    Seth Orza, Soloist and Sarah Ricard Orza, Corps de Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet.  Shown here in "Petit Mort".

    Seth

    Ah, Valentine’s Day! It’s the time of year when we shower our true love with tokens of affection, whether they be in the form of a box of chocolates, a gushy card, or a dozen roses (or all of the above!).

    In the dance world, Valentine’s Day can be especially wonderful as couples not only live, but oftentimes work, together. We decided to get an inside look at the blessings of Valentine’s Day through the eyes of the dancers themselves. First up is Seth Orza and Sarah Ricard Orza of Pacific Northwest Ballet!

    Class Act: “How did you two meet?”
    Seth: “We met in New York at the School of American Ballet’s when we were both 13.”
    Sarah: “We met at the summer course. Then we got together and started dating seriously when we were both at the School of American Ballet for their year round program when we were 17. And we’ve been pretty much together ever since then. We’ve been together now for 12 years and married for 2 ½ years.”

    Seth Orza and Sarah Ricard Orza shown here at SAB Summer Course, 1995 (Age 14). Seth & Sarah met at age 13.
    Seth Orza and Sarah Ricard Orza shown here at SAB Summer Course, 1995 (Age 14). Seth & Sarah met at age 13.

    Class Act: “Congratulations, that’s wonderful! So what’s the best thing about being married to a fellow dancer?”
    Sarah: “Well, I think that the dance world is just so small and intimate; sometimes it’s hard to explain or even relate to people who aren’t in the world on a daily basis—what’s going on, or what the daily ups and downs are like. So, if I’m having a bad day, Seth already knows why and that’s good.”
    Seth: “We try to help each other out along the way through the pressures of ballet, performing, and all that.”
    Sarah: “Oh, and travelling. If we tour, it’s great. It’s really nice to have your loved one with you when you’re going to all those places.”

    Class Act: “How do you two plan to make this Valentine’s Day special?”
    Seth: “Well…” he says with a sly tone, “it’s kind of a surprise.”
    Class Act:(Laughing) “Oops! I don’t want to ruin anything!”
    Seth: “We try to do something special every Valentines day, but it’s hard after twelve years to do something different every time.”
    Sarah: “There was one year when I had the genius idea of getting chocolate covered strawberries from Godiva. So I got a dozen chocolate strawberries only to find that in the fridge at home, Seth had also gotten a dozen Godiva strawberries!” she laughs.
    Seth: “We had a lot of chocolate strawberries!” he chuckles.
    Class Act:“Great minds think alike! So, do you have any last words of advice for fellow dancers out there?”
    Seth: “It’s nice being in a relationship with a co-worker—or a dancer—and it does work out.”
    Sarah: “It’s definitely a balance, though. I mean, we’re together at work all the time and then at home all the time. So sometimes there’s days when one of us has to step back and take some space—be it at work or at home. You just find that balance with spending all of your time together.”

    Seth Orza and Sarah Ricard Orza on their Wedding Day

    Seth

    Class Act: “Do you ever have a day when you really don’t want to be with the other person but you still have to work with them?”
    Seth/Sarah: “Oh no, never!” they laugh in unison.
    Seth: “Of course, but I think that happens in any relationship.”
    Sarah: “We have partnered together a lot, and that has challenges…”
    Seth: “Yeah, working together professionally…I mean, if she’s just around it’s one thing, but if we’re working together, it’s kind of hard sometimes.”
    Class Act:“Well thank you both so very much! I really appreciate you taking the time to do this and I hope you have a wonderful Valentine’s Day!”
    Sarah: “Thank you! You have a happy Valentines Day, too!”

    by Denise Opper, Media Relations Class Act Tutu & Vala Dancewear

    This post first appeared for Valentine's Day, 2010.

  • Pacific Northwest Ballet's All Premiere Offers Something for Everyone

    (l-r) Pacific Northwest Ballet principal dancer Kaori Nakamura and corps de ballet dancers Sarah Pasch and Leah O’Connor in Andrew Bartee’s arms that work, presented as part of ALL PREMIERE, November 2 – 11, 2012. Photo © Angela Sterling.

    (l-r)

    Pacific Northwest Ballet continues its milestone 40th anniversary season with the current quadruple rep, “All Premiere”. This power-packed display showcases the choreographic genius of PNB dancers Andrew Bartee, Margaret Mullin and Kiyon Gaines, as well as a world premiere by “Seattle native makes good”, Mark Morris.

    Andrew Bartee’s “arms that work” opened the show and featured a massive wavy fence constructed of long vertical elastic bands. These bands allowed the dancers to move through, behind, and sometimes artfully twisted and tangled within the structure itself. Local composer, Barret Anspach created the musical narration behind this piece. (Does that name ring a bell? It should! His sister, Jessika is one of PNB’s lovely corps members. ;) ) Anspach’s music suited Bartee’s modern mix of bouncy, halting and sometimes jerky choreography perfectly. The tone behind Bartee’s piece felt a bit reminiscent of the endless internal struggle between what we want versus what we can’t have. While I can’t say for sure that’s what Bartee was going for (I refuse to read anything about a new piece ahead of time so I don’t watch with pre-conceived ideas), but that’s the direction my thoughts traveled.

    Margaret Mullin’s “Lost in Light” followed Bartee’s piece, which exuded far more joy and loveliness. The piece featured four couples sweeping gracefully across the stage filled with minimal light streaming down as if from heaven itself. While Mullin’s neoclassical style distinctly showcased each of these couple’s stunning technical attributes to a “T”, the real standout this time was corps member, Brittany Reid. For the first time ever, I was able to catch a glimpse of this young woman’s passionate, lyrical quality and was left in near jaw-dropping awe. Seriously, folks - she was amazing and she’s definitely secured her place as one of this year’s dancers to watch.

    Mark Morris’ “Kammermusik No. 3” had no clear “story” or human element behind it, but instead focused largely on witty, angular movements sewn together with a silver thread of fun. The set featured gorgeous magenta backdrop made even more striking with a black curtain that was lowered – then raised – during the various interludes. At one point the music was silent and all you could hear was the sound of the dancer’s feet whisking across the stage. The piece ends on a particularly playful note with one male dancer tossing another off stage. Whoosh!

    The final piece of the night (and the one that literally brought everyone to their feet in standing ovation), was Kiyon Gaines’ “Sum Stravinsky”. Let me begin by saying, “Ho…leeee….COWWWW!” With one fell swoop (and maybe a few pirouettes), Gaines masterfully secured his place in the choreographic annals of fame!

    Pacific Northwest Ballet principal dancer Carrie Imler in Kiyon Gaines’s Sum Stravinsky, presented as part of ALL PREMIERE, November 2 – 11, 2012. Photo © Angela Sterling.

    Pacific

    Gaines’ artistic eye was masterfully brought to life through the use of gorgeous partnering and impressive costumes. The supremely talented partnerships featuring Carrie Imler and Jonathan Poretta, and Maria Chapman and Karel Cruz brought a mile-wide grin to everyone’s faces. These dancers literally stole the show and left me (and I believe I speak for everyone else at McCaw Hall that night) with a desire for more. Typical ballet costumes (read: tutus and pointe shoes) in shades of powder blue and teal sparkled with new life, thanks to the talented Pauline Smith. (Chapman’s one shoulder tank style bodice was nothing short of gorgeous!) In short, Sum Stravinsky made my heart sing. It was completely, and unequivocally, awesome.

    From modern to classical, Pacific Northwest Ballet’s All Premiere offers something for every Seattle dance fan. Pacific Northwest Ballet’s “All Premiere” runs through November 10th. Tickets available at PNB.org.

  • Pacific Northwest Ballet’s Cinderella Captivates Audiences Again

    Pacific Northwest Ballet principal dancer Kaori Nakamura as Cinderella in Kent Stowell’s Cinderella, which kicks off PNB’s 40th Anniversary season September 21 – 30, 2012.  Photo © Lindsay Thomas.

    Pacific

    Pacific Northwest Ballet kicked off its big 40th anniversary season with Kent Stowell’s Cinderella. This beloved crowd pleaser was performed two years ago, but is just as fresh, exciting and enjoyable ever. Saturday evening’s performance was a beautiful reminder of just how wonderful a classic fairytale story can be.

    The evening’s performance featured Kaori Nakamura as the young and severely mistreated Cinderella. While Nakamura’s dancing was technically flawless and every bit as charming as you’d expect, what really stood out for me was her ability to “tell a story”. Her dancing drew me deep into her character’s world and (no joke) left me with tears in my eyes more than once, such as when she received her gifts (shimmering “glass” slippers, anyone?) from her Fairy Godmother and finally said “I do” to her handsome prince. Bravo!

    And speaking of the prince, Jonathan Poretta did an outstanding job as His Royal Highness. While Poretta famously brings the more "humorous" character roles to life, I’ve got to say - he knows when to turn on the charm and can embody the role of "Handsome Prince" like no other! Poretta - like Nakamura - is a masterful storyteller, able to convey a variety of emotions (and quite possibly leap tall buildings) in a single bound.

    Pacific Northwest Ballet corps de ballet dancer Jessika Anspach and guest artist Marisa Albee as Cinderella’s stepsisters in Kent Stowell’s Cinderella, which kicks off PNB’s 40th Anniversary season September 21 – 30, 2012.  Photo © Lindsay Thomas.

    Pacific

    Jessika Anspach and Marisa Albee lit up the stage as the mean, selfish and awkward Stepsisters. Albee, a former PNB soloist turned faculty member, was one of the original Stepsisters when the production premiered in 1994, which made watching her performance a deliciously rare treat! Albee and Anspach pulled out all the stops and left the audience in stitches with their zany antics. Everything from clumsy dancing to bold attempts at grabbing the Prince’s attention was met with plenty of giggles and applause.

    The Jester (who doubles as the Prince's right hand man) was performed by Kyle Davis, who – up until that moment – really hadn’t been on my radar much. (Ahem) However all that changed the moment Davis entered the scene. He immediately captured – and held – my interest. Everything Davis did felt natural, not forced or like he was “trying too hard” to get a laugh. He simply WAS the Jester. Quite honestly, I thought he must have taken a few lessons in Characterization 101 from Mr. Poretta himself, because his performance felt distinctly “Jonathan-ish”. His performance drew so many laughs, so many gasps of delight, it was incredible. (High five!)

    And what PNB production would be complete without a charming cast of young dancers? Darling Memory Children, enchanted Bugs, stern Pumpkins, impish Sprites and lovely Fairy Attendants danced, twirled and jumped their way across the big stage, leaving their own indelible mark of sweetness on this already luscious season opener.

    Andrew Bartee was another young man who stood out with his portrayal of the Dancing Master. No joke – Bartee is the man to watch! He was spirited, enchanting and so freaking funny my stomach hurt from laughing so much. He was great! I can’t wait to see more of him throughout the season.

    If you haven't purchased your tickets to this lavish production - umm, what are you waiting for? Consider this your official Royal Invitation to the Ball!

    Pacific Northwest Ballet’s Cinderella runs through September 30th. Get your tickets by calling 206-441- 2424 or by visiting PNB.org.

    Denise Opper - Media for Class Act Tutu

  • PNB's 'Coppelia' is Perfect for Kids and Kids at Heart

    Pacific Northwest Ballet principal dancer Lesley Rausch as Swanilda with company dancers in PNB’s production of Coppélia, choreographed by Alexandra Danilova and George Balanchine © The George Balanchine Trust (after Marius Petipa). Photo © Angela Sterling

    Pacific

    Saturday evening’s performance of Pacific Northwest Ballet’s Coppelia reminded me just how much fun a story ballet can be.

    Lesley Rausch and Jerome Tisserand did an outstanding (stellar, phenomenal, glowing, superb) job in the roles of Swanilda and Franz. They went from a teasing, head-game playing pair of young lovers to a mature, “ready to tie the knot” couple in all of about 2 hours.

    Their comedic timing was impeccable, whether they were flirtatiously bantering back ‘n forth or trying to get away from the bumbling “mad scientist”, Dr. Coppelius, they brought the whole scene to life. I especially enjoyed the fact that their partnership didn’t feel forced, but rather effortless and natural, making this fairy tale all the more pleasant to watch.

    And speaking of Dr. Coppelius, I found William Yin Lee’s interpretation to be smooth, playful and satisfying. I loved the way he dragged Franz around by the ear while simultaneously giving him a few swift kicks to the behind, and how he tried (in vain) to put a lid on the mischievous antics of Swanilda-dressed-as-Coppelia.

    Act III’s Waltz of the Golden Hours featured Leta Biasucci, the petite powerhouse who never ceases to amaze with her delicate phrasing and innate ability to charm your socks off. Carrie Imler gave a beautiful performance as the glittering “Dawn”; Laura Gilbreath danced as “Prayer”, a role which suits her strong lyrical qualities perfectly, while Maria Chapman drew a hearty round of applause as the “Spinner”.

    Surrounding these enchanting soloists were 24 equally enchanting “baby ballerinas” dressed in lovely pink and gold tutus. As these young dancers entered the stage amongst a chorus of delighted “Ooo’s and ahh’s”, their smiles radiated what can only be described as immeasurable joy. I wouldn’t be surprised if their performance sparked the desire to dance in nearly every young audience member’s heart there.

    Pacific Northwest Ballet soloist Jerome Tisserand as Franz, and principal dancer Lesley Rausch as Swanilda in PNB’s production of Coppélia, choreographed by Alexandra Danilova and George Balanchine © The George Balanchine Trust (after Marius Petipa).  Photo © ANGELA STERLING

    Pacific

    Discord and War featured the whirling, arrow-wielding talents of Lindsi Dec and Kiyon Gaines, a most impressive duo if I’ve ever seen one. Their strong characters and powerful bodies gorgeously yield themselves to whatever role they’re playing, whether it’s a dashing prince or gentle princess or even a Gladiator-esque warrior.

    Charming sets featuring Swanilda’s adorable “teapot-shaped” house and a series of towering milk-white columns adorned with swirls of pink flowers rival the most beloved storybook illustrations. And those costumes…! Oh my! Each one was more impressive than the next, a seemingly endless stream of sparkling flowers, shiny tiaras and wispy tulle.

    With its tummy tickling humor, beautiful sets, spectacular costumes, and of course - all those gorgeous dancers - make Pacific Northwest Ballet’s Coppelia the perfect treat!

    Visit PNB.org today for tickets.

  • Coppelia - A Young Girl's Dream Come True

    Photo Credit: Denise Opper

    Photo

    Back in May 2010, Dean and I took Abby to see PNB's production of Coppelia. She was so excited that day and took special care to wear her best dress (white, mid-calf length, lots of sequins and a small sparkly tiara in her hair), and kept biting her nails in anticipation.

    As we watched the ballet, she would smile, laugh and gasp with delight every few moments. She was in her element! Then as the curtain rose on Act 3 and a beautiful row of girlies dressed in glittering pink and gold tutus appeared, my girl was speechless. Breathless even! ;)

    After a moment she leaned over in the dark and whispered with her eyes as big as saucers, "Mommy! How did those girls get to do that?" "They're from the PNB school, honey." I whispered back.

    Abby continued to watch, spellbound. Then at the end of the performance she asked, "Okay. So, how do I get in the school?" At that time, she was still dancing at her local ballet school, but already things were starting to look sketchy for the new year. I explained how she would have to audition, which she immediately asked, "When can I audition??" I told her we'd talk about it later. (Ahem)

    Later during the performance's Post Show Q&A, Abby walked right up and sat in the front row of chairs. (For the record, I never opt to sit in the front row...) After listening to a few adults ask their questions, she asked Olivier Wevers what he liked about playing the role of Dr. Coppelius (her other favorite part). He was very gracious and said he liked "playing with a character" and that was what made it fun for him. Then she asked the Artistic Director, Peter Boal how old the girls in Act 3 were. His response was, "Levels 3 and 4, maybe some 5's. So anywhere from about 10 to 13 or 14." Abby was 10 at the time and so you can imagine how much this pleased her.

    As we left McCaw Hall that day, I noticed Abby looked deep in thought. When questioned, she simply said, "I'm thinking about how happy I am that I wore my best dress today." And why's that? "So that when I come back and audition for PNB, Mr. Boal will know who I am!" {#itdoesntworkthatway}

    Fast forward to September 18th, 2010. She gets in to the school.

    She was placed in Level 3 but sadly, Coppelia was not scheduled to be performed again. At least not yet. So Abby continued to work hard and hoped (and prayed a whole lot) that one day soon, Coppelia would be done again and that she'd get a part.

    Last summer, it was announced that Coppelia would once again grace the stage during the company's 2011/12 Season.

    There was a lot of speculation as to who would be chosen, how tall or how short you had to be, etc. With every passing rumor, Abby grew more impatient waiting for the Cast letters to go out. Then two friends received a letter. Then three friends. And at long last, so did she....

    I'm pleased to announce that Abby received a letter in the mail announcing that she had been chosen to perform in this year's production of Coppelia...in Act 3...wearing the very pink and gold costume that ignited her determination to get into the school two years earlier!

    I'm so thankful to God for granting yet another exciting blessing in my daughter's life. To get the chance to perform in the very same production that catapulted her desire to attend the school into the stratosphere is nothing short of awesome! :)

    *Written by Denise Opper; originally published on the author's blog, Got Chai? *

    You can catch Pacific Northwest Ballet's Coppelia June 1st - 10th. Visit PNB.org for tickets.

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