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Pacific Northwest Ballet's "Director's Choice"

From the theater staff to the attendees to the performers, the excitement of opening night was unmistakable.  Pacific Northwest Ballet’s introduction of two brand new pieces and a replay of two favorites translated into an evening to remember.

Petite Mort

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The night began with Petite Mort, (French for “The Little Death” and a metaphor for sexual climax), the first work by European choreographer Jiri Kylian to be acquired by Pacific Northwest Ballet.  With six men, six women, and six foils the piece has been described as exuding energy, silence, and sexuality.  It does just that.

Petite Mort starts with six men facing upstage backing slowly toward the orchestra pit in silence.  The stillness is broken at first only by the sound of the swords cutting through the air.  The men partnering with their swords create a dangerous tension and excitement.  The choreography plays between the men, the swords, the women and dark, baroque style dresses.  These dresses, at times, appear to dance completely on their own.  There are some light hearted moments with the foils and the dresses that allowed the audience a laugh and provided a needed respite.

A special treat in this performance included partnering between two of the company’s married couples:  Seth Orza and Sarah Ricard Orza and Lindsi Dec and Karel Kruz.  In the sensual pas de deux, these real-life married couples, along with principal dancers Lucien Postlewaite and Kaori Nakamura, showcased both precision in movement as well as emotion.

I look forward to more pieces from this brilliant choreographer.

The music (Mozart’s Piano Concerto in A Major - Adagio and Piano Concerto in C Major – Andante) also warrants special mention.  With the resignation of Maestro Stewart Kershaw, Allan Dameron is acting Music Director and Conductor.  Dameron performed masterfully as both pianist and conductor for this piece.

Mopey

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This 14-minute male solo of “adolescent meltdown” was first performed by PNB in 2005.  The cult classic, performed by soloist, James Moore was pure perfection.

Moore’s fluidity of movement demonstrated both his raw strength and masculine grace.  The agony of the journey from boy to man with all of the temptations and mistakes made along the way was nothing short of mesmerizing.

For three perspectives on Mopey, see seattledances blog interview with James Moore and two other dancers cast for this run, Soloist Benjamin Griffiths and Principal, Jonathan Poretta.

The Seasons

This was the world premiere of The Seasons, choreographed by Val Caniparoli.  The Seasons is a balletic allegory of the four seasons danced to the music of Alexander Glazunov (Op.67, 1899).  The Seasons is served up against a simple and very striking set and presented with innovative costume design.  Both set and costumes were designed by Sandra Woodall.  I cannot even begin to describe the brilliance in executing these costume design concepts.  Check out this video posted by PNB as a special thanks to the costume shop for a taste:  PNB's The Seasons Costume Preview.

The Seasons opened in winter  and it appeared that it was snowing stars.  Thus the magical blend of contemporary and classical ballet began.  There were delightful gnomes lighting fires to melt the snow and change the scene to spring.  Kaori Nakamura as the Swallow truly took flight—both on her own and with the aid of the Zephyr, Lucien Postlewaite.  You could see the fun and frolic in Barry Kerolis as a faun.   With its cast of birds, satyrs, fauns, flowers and gnomes, this piece has something for everyone.

West Side Story

West Side Story is an abbreviated version of the musical of the same name.  Choreographer Jerome Robbins (along with Peter Genarro) extracted this sequence of dances originally for the New York City Ballet in 1995.

This piece is just plain fun and allows the dancers to try their hand at singing and showing off a completely different style.  Principal, Carla Körbes was a delight as the spunky, Anita seeming to be transformed both in looks (her blonde hair covered in a dark wig) and technique.

Pacific Northwest Ballet principal dancer Carla Körbes (center) with Company dancers in Jerome Robbins’ West Side Story Suite. Photo © Angela Sterling.

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PNB’s Director’s Choice runs from November 5–15, 2009.

Don’t miss it!

All photos  © Angela Sterling.

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