Pacific Northwest Ballet’s New Works

Pacific Northwest Ballet principal dancer Lucien Postlewaite and soloist Lindsi Dec in David Dawson’s A Million Kisses to my Skin. Photo © Angela Sterling

Pacific Northwest Ballet principal dancer Lucien Postlewaite and soloist Lindsi Dec in David Dawson’s A Million Kisses to my Skin. Photo © Angela Sterling

Friday evening’s opening performance of Pacific Northwest Ballet’s New Works began with a pleasant surprise. As Peter Boal stepped out onto the stage to welcome the audience, he was accompanied by Linda Shelton, executive director of The Joyce Theater Foundation.

What’s this all about, you ask?

Well, it turns out that Ms. Shelton was there to announce that PNB was the proud recipient of the prestigious Rudolf Nureyev Prize for New Dance, a $25,000 grant which PNB will use to stage a new work by Alejandro Cerrudo, resident choreographer for Hubbard Street Dance Chicago. The work will then make its New York debut at The Joyce during the 2013-14 season! {Cue imaginary fireworks and confetti here} Pretty sweet, huh? Yep, the audience thought so too. Now…onto the show!

This season’s production of New Works featured three different performances, each marked with a decidedly different feel and flavor.

First up was David Dawson’s, A Million Kisses to My Skin. Now, as a lover of all things classic and beautiful, this piece was thrilling to the core. While Kisses’ choreography forced dancers to break out of their classical molds just a bit, the movements themselves didn’t feel forced but rather effortless, passionate and exhilarating. The dancers seemed to be completely invigorated from start to finish. You could tell they all really enjoyed performing this piece!

Sarah Ricard Orza was particularly stunning with her impeccable timing, fantastic port de bras, and well…everything else. If she hadn’t been promoted when she was, I’d be the first person to beat down Mr. Boal’s door demanding that change – pronto! She was the total package that night, hands down.

Jonathan Poretta oozed power and charisma like no one else. To me, he is on par with the likes of Baryshnikov – so high up on the Awesome Dancer Pedestal it’s incredible. His leaps and turns made me fist-pump the air and whisper, “YES!” much to the chagrin of my fellow audience members. (Ahem)

Equally riveting were powerhouses, Lindsi Dec and Lucien Postlewaite. Honestly, you’d be hard pressed to find a better match than these two. Lucien’s quiet charm coupled against Lindsi’s fiery “look at me!” quality made for an absolutely brilliant performance. Every thrilling moment was flawless.

With that said, I have GOT to see PNB perform more of Dawson’s incredible works! And given the standing ovation the dancers received at the close of this piece, I know I’m not alone in my desire. (Pretty please, Mr. Boal? *Insert batting eyelashes here*)

Next up was Cylindrical Shadows by Annabelle Lopez Ochoa. I originally saw this work performed by Olivier Wevers’ company, Whim W’him back in January 2011. While the piece had been craftily changed up just a smidge for PNB, these changes didn’t mar the vibrant landscape of the original work in the slightest.

In Cylindrical Shadows, the elements of sudden loss, grief and the continuum of time are explored in poignant detail. From the pendulous swinging of the dancers arms (hands of time?), to the way the dancers would weave themselves in and out of each others’ embrace, Cylindrical Shadows makes you pause, wonder and pause again. During this piece, I found myself most impressed by Ezra Thomson and Jerome Tisserand. I love how these two great dancers were allowed to bring their talents to the forefront of this dynamic ensemble. I found their dancing believable, their loss palpable. {Bravo, guys. Bravo!}

The third piece of the evening was Victor Quijada’s Mating Theory. Now, no offense to PNB but this was the one piece that left me scratching my head a bit. I wasn’t too sure what to think of the jerky, pop-lockish, preening bird-like strutting across the stage, although I admit there were some “flashback to the 80’s” break dance type moves which were quite cool. I also found the final moments of the piece featuring Lucien Postlewaite and Rachel Foster to be rather exquisite, to say the least. They sparkled like priceless diamonds in the rough and I just sat there and held my breath, utterly transfixed. It was lovely!

Overall, I didn’t “get” which theories were doing the mating. Granted, the obvious mating undertones were there but they were subtle and didn’t culminate as one would expect. Perhaps it included the different theories of dance mingling together? I’m not sure.

In any event, it’s safe to say that Mating Theory is a piece I’d need to see again in order to fully appreciate its intricacies. Not saying it was horrible – certainly not. But rather, it’s a piece that requires a little more chewing before I can attempt to digest it.

New Works runs through March 24th, 2012. Tickets are available at PNB.org.

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