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The Sleeping Beauty

  • Pacific Northwest Ballet's Love Stories - A Delicious Romantic Treat

    Pacific Northwest Ballet principal dancers Lucien Postlewaite and Carrie Imler in the Black Swan pas de deux from Kent Stowell’s Swan Lake. Presented as part of LOVE STORIES, November 4-13, 2011. Photo © Angela Sterling

    Pacific

    Pacific Northwest Ballet's Love Stories serves up a luscious 5-course feast of romance, seduction and passion!

    Opening Night's performance of Divertimento from Le Baiser de la Fée featured the talents of principal dancers, Kaori Nakamura and Jonathan Poretta in the headlining pas de deux. Nakamura is such an amazing dancer - delicate yet oh-so-strong; she looked like she was fully enjoying herself up there. Poretta of course, is just pure magic. (Seriously, if I could have my own life-size Poretta doll to wind up and watch him dance during random moments of levity, I would. Oh, and a Lucien Postlewaite replica, too. But I'm getting ahead of myself...) I was equally impressed by corps de ballet members, Jessika Anspach and Brittany Reid.  Their performance provided the soul to Nakamura and Poretta's "heart" and brought a sense of balance to this beautiful, lively piece.

    Next up was the Black Swan pas de deux from Swan Lake. For this the stage was stripped down to a bare  bones backdrop featuring a full silvery moon against a blue-black sky. Now, I have to be honest and admit that I felt a tad cheated by the lack of splendor associated with this scene - at first. But then, once principal dancers, Lucien Postlewaite and Carrie Imler entered the stage the message was clear: Who needs props and scenery when you've got these two dancing in front of you? And oh my goodness gracious, what a performance it was!!

    Imler was cunning, sexy, fiery and captivating - the perfect evil temptress, Odile. (Dazzling fouette turns and fluttery swan arms? To die for!) Postlewaite leaped and turned with the agility and grace of a gazelle - light, powerful and commanding all at once. And his expressions - are you kidding me? Schoolboy sweet and head over heels for Imler's charms - his Siegfried was brilliant!

    I couldn't tear my eyes away from their coy exchange and was eager to see how it would end, while hoping at the same time that perhaps - just perhaps - it wouldn't...Ah! Such delicious torture!  And as that final note echoed from the orchestra pit, the entire theatre exploded with a very boisterous, very appreciative standing ovation. Bravo and bellissima!

    Pacific Northwest Ballet corps de ballet dancers Jerome Tisserand and Kylee Kitchens in Jerome Robbins’ Afternoon of a Faun. Presented as part of LOVE STORIES, November 4-13, 2011. Photo © Angela Sterling

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    Afternoon of a Faun offered a rare treat in the form of corps de ballet members, Kylee Kitchens and Jerome Tisserand. Sensually riveting (and sans shirt), Tisserand's performance gave the female audience members something to smile about. I was especially impressed with the way he carried, swooped and scooped Kitchens across the stage (gorgeous!), while Kitchens managed to channel the likes of Darci Kistler, creating a character that not only had great hair, but an almost ethereal quality to her as well.

    It was tough following Swan Lake, that's for sure! But they managed to pull it off with superior aplomb.

    During the balcony scene from Romeo et Juliette we saw the return of Lucien Postlewaite and Kaori Nakamura. Again these two gifted dancers brought the house down with their depiction of rapturous, all-consuming young love. Playful yet bold, teasing yet shy, Postlewaite's "Mr. Touchy-Feely" is equally matched by Nakamura's "Look But Don't Touch - Okay, Perhaps Just a Little" Juliette. They gave an incredible performance, one that - again - I did not want to end.

    The crowning moment of the evening, complete with resplendent sets, props and plenty of sparkle was Aurora's Wedding from The Sleeping Beauty. In the spotlight were principal dancers, Lesley Rausch and Batkhurel Bold as Princess Aurora and Prince Florimund.

    Rausch's portrayal of the sixteen year old Princess was breathtaking and believable, while Bold's Prince was the definition of debonair and confidence. Their series of fish dives across the stage were beautifully executed. I especially enjoyed marveling at Rausch's sweet expression, incredible extensions and go-for-miles lines! She brings a decidedly fresh layer of charm to the stage that I hadn't realized was lacking before now.

    The Gold & Silver Pas de Trois featured Lindsi Dec, William Lin-Yee and Seth Orza. The men were every bit as superb as you would expect and in fact, I was especially pleased with how well corps de ballet member, Lin-Yee kept up with the likes of principal dancer, Orza who, let's face it, reached god-like status long ago. If he felt any intimidation about dancing alongside Orza, he didn't show it. Orza, of course, looked fantastic and made his variation look like child's play.

    Dec was joyful, delightful and effervescent as always. I love and appreciate how she makes every performance look like it's her happiest moment on earth.

    Pacific Northwest Ballet soloist Lindsi Dec in Aurora’s Wedding from Ronald Hynd’s The Sleeping Beauty.  Presented as part of LOVE STORIES, November 4-13, 2011. Photo © Angela Sterling

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    Tied for best variation within this section goes to Puss in Boots & White Cat (Ezra Thompson, Sarah Ricard Orza) and The Bluebird and Princess Florine (Jerome Tisserand, Rachel Foster). First up - Puss in Boots & The White Cat. Corps de ballet member, Ezra Thompson and soloist, Sarah Ricard Orza really outdid themselves with this number! These two have more "character" in their little fingers than others have in their entire body. Ricard-Orza's White Cat was all sass, "slapping" Thompson's "Puss" on the hand - er, paw - whenever he got a little too frisky. In the end, no kitty can resist a choice little mouse which Puss happily presented to Her Royal Divaness, the White Cat.

    As the Bluebird, Tisserand once again did not disappoint, while principal dancer, Rachel Foster's Princess Florine was absolutely flawless. She seems to have the Midas Touch when it comes to execution, technique and inner fire; it all turns to gold, baby! Love it...

    Love Stories runs through November 13th with excellent tickets still available! To learn more, please visit PNB.org.

    Reviewed by Denise Opper



  • Operation: Reconstructing Ballet's Past

    Vikharev rehearses Coppélia with Maria Alexandrova, photo Vyacheslav Podorozhniy.

    Vikharev

    "When Russia was plunged into Revolution in 1917, a chief balletmaster inside the Imperial Ballet in St Petersburg feared the worst. It was not simply the death of Tsars he feared, but the death of all culture associated with them, including the classical ballet... For 25 years all the ballets in the repertoire had been notated, their choreography, how the steps fitted the music, what costumes and sets should be. The notes were filed in several large volumes. The balletmaster...packed them into crates, and when he disappeared from Russia, the volumes went with him. Possibly thus the future of classical ballet was saved....

     "....Here is where Sergei Vikharev comes onto the scene. A dancer in the Mariinsky, in the late 1990s he was struck - while rehearsing Balanchine and Fokine ballets, both of which have active custodians zealously preserving their text - that the classics had no such equivalent, and in particular the ballets of the master of them all, Petipa. Vikharev learned about the Harvard notations and...the result was the astounding restoration of the 1890 The Sleeping Beauty, which set London and New York by the ears in 2000. This was followed by (an) "old" La Bayadère, recreating the 1900 staging supervised by Petipa and restoring the full four-act score." ~ Quote: Ismene Brown, The Arts Desk.com

    Click here to read a detailed interview with Vikharev and learn more about his controversial quest to bring ballet's most famous works back to the stage in their purest form. {Please note that while the article is extremely lengthy, it's well worth the read!}

  • Review: Pacific Northwest Ballet's Sleeping Beauty

    What a gorgeous evening! There are simply not enough adjectives to describe the splendor of Pacific Northwest Ballet's The Sleeping Beauty.  This outstanding company of dancers whisks its audience deep into the heart of this beloved fairy tale, thrilling and delighting both young and old alike.
    The scenery and costumes  designed by Peter Docherty are lush, vibrant and visually delicious. Enchanted foliage moves to ensconce the royal castle. Costumes shimmer and sparkle with life of their own. Aurora's bower is delicately ornate and enveloped in a golden beam of light.

    The Christening

    The opening Christening Scene exceeded all expectations. Otto Neubert (King Florimund) and Victoria McFall (the Queen) are poised experts of their craft. Their characterization is well-established and believable.
    The seven enchanted fairies and their cavaliers were dazzlingly  in sync. The Cavaliers, with their impressive turns and jumps, were thrilling to watch. The fairies were perfectly cast, each bringing their own unique style and interpretation to the role. Most memorable solos include Lindsi Dec's (Fairy of Wit) spunky finger pointing and skillful pointe work, and Chalnessa Eames' (Fairy of Generosity) charming, slightly coquettish performance.

    The Lilac Fairy

    Carrie Imler's  interpretation was not only masterful, but exhibited a profound sense of strength under control. I got the distinct impression that Lilac could've really given old Carabosse a swift kick in the skirt, but chose not to because that wouldn't be very ladylike. Their relationship seems tethered by a delicate wisp of a truce; "I will only allow you to go so far," Lilac's penetrating gaze warns.
    Imler's port de bras were gorgeous and fluid; her grace extending all the way through her fingertips. Her expressions were soft but commanding; her movement precise yet poetic. Imler's Lilac seemed to care deeply about all those within her domain, and their allegiance to her was not without cause.

    Pacific Northwest Ballet principal dancer Carla Körbes as the Lilac Fairy with her attendants, puts the kingdom under a sleeping spell in Ronald Hynd’s The Sleeping Beauty.  Photo © Angela Sterling.

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    Carabosse

    Jonathan Poretta's portrayal of this devilish fairy was dramatic, powerful and just plain fun. Everything from his grand, swooping entrance accompanied by the sound of crashing cymbals and stark flashes of light, to the fiendish ways in which he lashes out over not being invited to the celebration was absolutely superb! Carabosse may be profoundly wicked, but she is still no match for the Lilac Fairy's power. One moment, Carabosse is whirling feverishly about, her cackling laughter almost audible. The next, she is cowering on the floor under Lilac's quietly dominating presence.  I was almost sorry she was stabbed to death by the heroic Prince in the end.

    Pacific Northwest Ballet principal dancer Olivier Wevers as the evil Carabosse, and principal dancer Carla Körbes as the Lilac Fairy in Ronald Hynd’s The Sleeping Beauty.  Photo © Angela Sterling.

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    Princess Aurora

    With her delicate phrasing and uncanny ability to channel the emotions of a sixteen year old Princess, Mara Vinson has secured her place as a legendary ballerina. During the famous Rose Adagio, Vinson was unfathomably brilliant. Her balance was spot-on as she greeted each of the four Dukes; her supple back hinted of the beautiful woman our heroine is to become, and her developpes unfurled toward the sky. Last but not least, those fantastic poissons (fish dives)with the Dukes and later, the Prince, were nothing short of extraordinary. Indeed, Vinson's performance left many viewers gasping with excitement.

    Pacific Northwest Ballet principal dancer Mara Vinson as Aurora, with company dancers in Ronald Hynd’s The Sleeping Beauty.  Photo © Angela Sterling.

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    The Prince

    Yet where would our lovely heroine be without her handsome Prince? Seth Orza proved his mettle by meeting the challenges of this highly demanding ballet. Orza starts out as a dashing, slightly aloof young man who quickly becomes enraptured by the girl of his dreams (literally). He begs the Lilac Fairy to show him where she can be found, a request which the benevolent fairy is only too happy to oblige. Orza's characterization is rich and articulate; his strength and power--sheer bliss. When he finally kills the wicked Carabosse then leans in to kiss his beloved Aurora, you have to literally stop yourself from cheering.

    The Wedding

    The third act of this ballet is filled with some of the most well-known and cherished variations. The Gold and Silver Pas de Trois, featuring Lindsi Dec, Andrew Bartee and Lucien Postlewaite was refreshing, effortless and commanding. I was duly impressed with how well Dec's strength and beautiful lines held their own against Bartee's and Postlewaite's esteemed technical prowess and bold execution.
    The Bluebirds (Rachel Foster and Benjamin Griffiths) were absolutely stunning.  Griffiths shined with his jaw-dropping leaps and jumps, while Foster's fluttering movements provided a sense of harmony and balance.
    Red Riding Hood and the Wolf (Abby Relic and Jerome Tisserand) was mildly sinister yet extremely charming. I heard more than a few giggles emanating from the children in attendance.
    However, it was the humorous dance between Puss in Boots (Jordan Pacitti) and the White Cat (Sarah Ricard Orza) that really got the audience's attention.  This talented duo made the most convincing pair of sparring felines imaginable. Pacitti was the ever-determined suitor vying for Ricard Orza's finicky feline affections; Ricard Orza transformed herself into the most feisty little kitty cat, holding Pacitti at arm's--or claw's--length. After multiple strikeouts, Pacitti finally decides to give Ricard Orza the gift no kitty in her right mind can resist; a tasty mouse!

    Pacific Northwest Ballet soloist Seth Orza and principal dancer Mara Vinson as Prince Florimund and Princess Aurora in Ronald Hynd’s The Sleeping Beauty.  Photo © Angela Sterling

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    Conclusion

    By taking on this technically demanding ballet and performing with aplomb, Pacific Northwest Ballet has once again proven itself worthy of the highest of accolades. The dancers enamored the audience with their incandescent performance and spawned a new generation of wistful Auroras!

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

    All photos © Angela Sterling

    Pacific Northwest Ballet performs Ronal Hynd's The Sleeping Beauty

    February 4 - 14, 2010

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