My first “Dove” experience this past Saturday greatly exceeded all my expectations. (And when it comes to Pacific Northwest Ballet, those expectations are already high!)
Not only was the dancing superb but the energy, the emotion, the raw edgy element that pulsated throughout the entire performance was, in a word, spectacular.
In 3 By Dove (+ 1 By Quijada), PNB takes on three unique works by the late Ulysses S. Dove–Vespers, Red Angels, and Serious Pleasures; plus a commissioned piece created by Victor Quijada titled, Suspension of Disbelief. The result is a fiery, hypnotic blend of movement coupled with elegant lines and feverish energy.
In Vespers, Dove pays homage to his grandmother and the small wooden building where she met with other ladies to pray. The cast is comprised of six female dancers dressed in long black skirts. The dancers alternately sit and stand on, step off, and whirl around a row of wooden chairs with punctuated staccato rhythm and dizzying pace. While a necessary prop, the chairs also seem to provide a visual anchor for these “praying ladies”, keeping them earthbound amidst their heavenly communion.
While Vespers provided a good first inning, Red Angels knocked the proverbial ball out of the park. The talented quartet of dancers: Laura Gilbreath, Carrie Imler, Seth Orza and Jordan Pacitti paired with electric violinist extraordinaire, Mary Rowell grabbed the audience’s attention and held onto it like a vice grip.
The dancers clad in gleaming red unitards, performed with a fierce inner fire. These “celestial beings” exuded all the athleticism, drama and sauciness I’ve come to expect from the likes of PNB.
Gilbreath’s performance was vivacious and filled with a contagious exuberance. Imler’s interpretation was clean, deliberate–perfect. But when it comes to articulating the bridled power exhibited by both Orza and Pacitti…well, let’s just say there aren’t enough adjectives to describe its splendor! The pair was nothing short of outstanding. (In fact, I’m still in awe over Pacitti’s balance in arabesque!)
Suspension of Disbelief
Suspension of Disbelief is a heady mix of intense, slow motion hip hop-esque moves melting into a balletic fondue. Eleven dancers rise and fall against one another; pushing, pulling, catching, falling, bouncing, rolling. The piece felt hauntingly reminiscent of sea foam as it rises and breaks along the waves of the ocean. Notable mentions include Lucien Postlewaite’s gorgeous fluidity combined with Olivier Wevers‘ commanding strength in a poetic pas de deux; Lindsi Dec’s leggy extensions and impeccable control; to finally Chalnessa Eames‘ stubborn, sexy quality wrapped up in a petite package.
Last but not least was Serious Pleasures. Now this is the work everyone will be talking about for many seasons to come! Set against a backdrop of what resembled a barely lit department store changing room with mounted sets of parallel bars in between each shuttered door, Serious Pleasures is wrought with carnal satisfaction and devastation. Each of the nine dancers–Jonathan Porretta, Chalnessa Eames, Rachel Foster, Kylee Kitchens, Sarah Ricard Orza, Barry Kerollis, Jermome Tisserand, Benjamin Griffiths and Seth Orza–showcased their talents in a steamy, uninhibited performance filled with plenty of hair tossing and pulsating hip action.
I found the lighting to be especially impressive, as the majority of the piece was cast in gorgeous silhouette. Later, the lighting provided a provocative adult nightclub effect as the women danced erotically behind their closed “changing room” doors. Additional performance highlights include an exquisite candle lit pas de deux between Seth Orza and Sarah Ricard Orza, and Jonathan Porretta’s portrayal of a man torn between craving what is morally right vs. succumbing to the gutturally instinctual.
With 3 By Dove (+1 by Quijada), Pacific Northwest Ballet has successfully raised the bar of artistic excellence and cultural relevance. Somewhere in the heavens above, Mr. Dove is looking down and smiling…
All photos © Angela Sterling.
3 by Dove continues March 25-28 at McCaw Hall, Seattle. Tickets Pacific Northwest Ballet.