Call +1 (800) 820-1667

Review: Pacific Northwest Ballet's All Wheeldon

Pacific Northwest Ballet principal dancers Carla Körbes and Seth Orza in Christopher Wheeldon’s Carousel (A Dance), presented as part of PNB’s season-opener, ALL WHEELDON, September 23 – October 2, 2011.  Photo © Angela Sterling

Pacific

Pacific Northwest Ballet opened its 2011-12 season with an outstanding production featuring four works from highly acclaimed dancer/choreographer, Christopher Wheeldon.

I admit, I had high expectations for this production; first -  because I adore Wheeldon's work and second - I get a huge kick out of his accent. (Yes, I'm that superficial.) As always, the PNB dancers didn't let me down.

The first piece of the night was Carousel (A Dance). Principal dancers, Seth Orza and Carla Korbes performed the lead pas de deux with stunning emotional intensity. Though not "in your face" passionate, their tender connection was undoubtedly arresting and satisfying.

Not to be outdone, I also found soloist Benjamin Griffiths and corps de ballet members Kiyon Gaines and Ezra Thomson performances to be strong stand outs as well. Griffiths has such a beautiful quality to him (while his smile just lights up the stage);  Gaines' is big, powerful and yet moves with the grace of a sylph, and Thomson seems to be growing by leaps and bounds in terms of confidence, "voice" and artistic depth.

After The Rain pas de deux featured soloist, James Moore with newly appointed principal, Rachel Foster, and is one of those pieces that you have to see to understand. It is beauty in its purest form. The fluidity, flexibility and extreme control executed by these two gorgeous dancers was just spectacular.

While I've seen Moore perform numerous times, I was taken aback by just how "lovely" he is. His port de bras were amazing and the way he partnered the tiny Foster felt so protective, passionate and downright yummy. Foster was absolutely spellbinding as always. She's just one of those dancers I never tire of watching.

Pacific Northwest Ballet soloists Rachel Foster and James Moore in Christopher Wheeldon’s After the Rain pas de deux, presented as part of PNB’s season-opener, ALL WHEELDON, September 23 – October 2, 2011.  Photo © Angela Sterling

Pacific

The third piece of the night was Polyphonia which, I must admit, was the most difficult to enjoy. Not because of the dancers - oh no! - but rather because of some of the musical interludes, which were an assault to one's sense of order and balance.  Yet in spite of all this, Wheeldon (who must be part time super hero or something), managed to wrap this chaotic dervish in glittering paper and top it off with a shiny bow.

Taking center stage again was soloist, Benjamin Griffiths along with principal dancer, Lucien Postlewaite in a dazzling pas de deux which smacked of male competitiveness with a hit of "coquettish" thrown in for spice, and soloist Sarah Ricard Orza and corps de ballet member, Jerome Tisserand in their own breathtaking pas de deux. These two have such a "quietly dynamic" sense of artistry that can, unfortunately, be overshadowed by their more dramatic peers. Therefore, it was great to see them paired together like that. Bravo!

The final piece of the evening was Variations Serieuses, which is a laugh out loud parody of the dance world. The characters - prima (diva) ballerina, premiere danseur, pianist, stage manager, ballet master, conductor - are all played to the exaggerated, comedic hilt. Carrie Imler shined like a brilliant diamond as the spoiled, entirely-too-full-of-herself prima ballerina who is soon ousted out of the spotlight (due to injury) by the lovely ingénu, Sarah Ricard Orza, waiting sweetly in the wings.

Pacific Northwest Ballet company dancers in Christopher Wheeldon’s Variations Sérieuses, presented as part of PNB’s season-opener, ALL WHEELDON, September 23 – October 2, 2011. Photo © Angela Sterling

Pacific

This piece was the perfect follow up to the previous more intense acts. Again, the PNB dancers surpassed all expectations and bestowed a fantastic treat upon the entire audience. Kiyon Gaines' performance as the Ballet Master was freaking hysterical as was soloist, Lindsi Dec's butt-scratching, soda (beer?) swigging Stage Manager.

To sum things up - All Wheeldon is all class and sass! It's a must-see and a glorious beginning to what looks to be an extraordinary new season.

This is the final weekend to catch All Wheeldon. For tickets, please visit PNB.org.

Leave a Reply