Pacific Northwest Ballet’s Apollo & Carmina Burana is Heaven on Earth

Pacific Northwest Ballet soloist Sarah Ricard Orza and principal dancer Batkhurel Bold in Apollo, choreographed by George Balanchine © The George Balanchine Trust. Photo © Angela Sterling

Pacific Northwest Ballet soloist Sarah Ricard Orza and principal dancer Batkhurel Bold in Apollo, choreographed by George Balanchine © The George Balanchine Trust. Photo © Angela Sterling

On Saturday evening, Pacific Northwest Ballet pulled out all the stops and delivered one of their most riveting double-features this season.

Balanchine’s Apollo featured principal dancer, Batkhurel Bold in the title role. As the curtain rose on the handsome deity (poised ever so gallantly with his lyre, eyes cast toward heaven), Bold exuded an air of quiet confidence. His dancing felt reflective, deliberate, even dare I say? – more mature than other Apollos I’ve seen. But let’s not confuse maturity with boring. While Bold certainly lacked the open arrogance that so often permeates this role, he could not be accused of lacking the necessary charisma to bring the character to fruition. His interpretation left a fresh stamp of ingenuity to what could have easily been seen as, “the same ol’ Apollo”.

Dancing alongside the young god were the three beautiful muses, Terpsichore (Sarah Ricard Orza), Calliope (Maria Chapman), and Polyhymnia (Lesley Rausch). While both Chapman and Rausch were dazzling to look upon and almost threatened to steal the show right out from under our dear Apollo, the beguiling Sarah Ricard Orza actually managed to do just that – in spades. Her interpretation of Terpsichore was so moving, so genuine, so gorgeous…it gave me chills. (It’s no wonder Apollo was already so mature from the get-go with a breathtaking muse like that to impress!)

But for all of Apollo’s strengths – which were many, they paled just slightly next to the colossal masterpiece known as Carmina Burana.

In this dramatic second act, the combination of sight and sound was fantastic. Ming Cho Lee’s gigantic golden Wheel of Fortune acts as an impressive – albeit slightly imposing – canopy, suspended high above the menagerie of dancers. In Primo Vere, peasant girl Kaori Nakamura burst from the wings like a dazzling sunbeam, while her gallant partner, James Moore was equally dynamic with his radiant smile and tireless energy.

Cour d’Amour featuring Maria Chapman and Karel Cruz was filled with all the lovely nuances that make ballet great. Their sweeping lyrical movements were a perfect mix of grace, technical prowess, and bridled strength. I especially loved how Cruz seemed to hang in the air with each jump and turn, while Chapman used her innate charm to draw all eyes toward herself like a beloved queen.

Acclaimed set designer Ming Cho Lee's colossal twenty-six-foot golden wheel shares the stage with the Seattle Choral Company and Pacific Northwest Ballet company dancers in Kent Stowell’s Carmina Burana. Photo © Angela Sterling

Acclaimed set designer Ming Cho Lee's colossal twenty-six-foot golden wheel shares the stage with the Seattle Choral Company and Pacific Northwest Ballet company dancers in Kent Stowell’s Carmina Burana. Photo © Angela Sterling

Yet for all the beauty of these two movements, the real show stopper was In Taberna featuring Lindsi Dec, and she.was.phenomenal! Dressed in a fiery Arabian-esque ensemble, she was the embodiment of lust and temptation. As she sashayed across the stage, this gorgeous vixen used the beauty God gave her (with the devil’s design) to her advantage at every turn. Her dancing was electrifying, commanding and straight-up awesome.

One of Dec’s unwitting admirers (victims?) was Benjamin Griffiths. His portrayal of a tortured soul caught between heaven’s forgiveness and hell’s fury was beyond awesome. Not only can this man jump like it’s no one’s business, but he can cultivate a character that has more facets and depth than I ever thought possible. Bravo!

The spectacular vocal backdrop provided by the Seattle Choral Company, along with the solo tenor (Marcus Shelton), baritone (Michael Anthony McGee) and soprano (Christina Siemens), rivaled the angels themselves. Their pitch-perfect delivery carried the performance along from start to glorious finish.

Get your tickets to Pacific Northwest Ballet’s Apollo and Carmina Burana at PNB.org or by calling 206-441-2424.

Leave a Reply