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  • Superstition and the Dancer: From Hauntings to Good Luck Charms

    With Halloween approaching, we always love to revisit our post about superstition and the dancer. This post was originally post 7 years ago. Enjoy!!!

    Shhhhhhh.....

    Dancers and their theatrical peers are masters of the art of fantasy and characterization. In order to be successful at their craft, a dancer must create a believable character that leaves their audiences spell-bound. It is within the confines of the theater that both performer and viewer silently agree to believe the unbelievable. “Without these unspoken agreements, there could be no theater; with these agreements, all theaters become magic places where time shifts and identity is transformed.” (Haunted Theaters by Barbara Smith. 2002)

    This “unspoken agreement” helped propagate the rich history of superstition and rituals among performers throughout the ages.

    The Ghost in the TheaterThe Ghost in the Theater

    Haunting & Superstition

    Superstitious beliefs attached to the theater originated in the continental cities of Europe where the ballet predominated.  Even in these modern times, theaters tend to have a plethora of associated superstitions and ghost stories. Here are a few:

    The Ghost Light

    According to tradition, one should always leave a light on in an empty theater.  This light either wards off ghosts—or may just provide the ghosts enough light to see.  Failure to provide this may anger the ghosts leading to pranks and other mishaps.

    Rehearsal

    It is considered bad luck if a rehearsal goes smoothly. The feared results of a perfect rehearsal include a very short performance run, or the performance itself will be disastrous. It is also unlucky to speak the last line of a play before Opening Night.

    Whistling

    It is forbidden to whistle anywhere inside the theater, especially in or near the dressing rooms. The superstition states that if a whistle is heard, someone (although not necessarily the whistler) will soon lose their job.

    Wishing an Actor or Dancer “Good Luck”

    This is by far one of the most well-known superstitions. Wishing an actor or dancer “good luck” before a performance is considered extremely unlucky and is sure to bring disaster. Instead, one should wish an actor to “break a leg”, which is symbolic of “taking a bow” at the end of a worthy performance, and wish a dancer “merde”.

    Merde is actually French slang for “dung” but has an interesting history in regard to the dance world. Before the invention of cars, Parisian streets were filled with horse-drawn carriages and plenty of horse dung. As dancers made their way to the theater, they would caution one another to “not step in the merde”. During the evenings when the people—and their horses--were in vast attendance, all the “merde” outside was considered a good thing. Dancers soon began to wish one another “merde” before going on stage as a way of saying “watch your step”.

    The Scottish Play

    Shakespeare’s Macbeth is said to be the most cursed of all plays; therefore actors avoid saying its name. Euphemisms such as “The Scottish Play” or “The Bards’ Play” are used instead. The superstition states that terrible luck will befall on any company performing the play, ranging from strange accidents to actual death. In many parts of the world, even speaking the name “Macbeth” anywhere inside the theater or quoting from its text will cause that person to lose all of their theatrical friends.

    Closed for Ghosts

    According to superstition, the theater should always be closed one night a week in order to give the ghosts a chance to perform themselves. Monday night is usually preferred, as it also provides actors with a day off following weekend performances.

    The World’s Most Haunted Theaters

    Many of the world’s oldest and most renowned theaters are said to be haunted.

    Many of the world’s oldest and most renowned theaters are said to be haunted. Ghostly encounters range from the mischievous to the deadly, and plague performers, stage-hands and ushers alike. Instead of frightening theater patrons away, these tales seem to have the opposite effect by adding to the theater’s allure and mystique.

    The Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, London

    London’s oldest working theater is said to be home to several spirits. Perhaps the most famous is “The Man in Grey”, who appears as a nobleman dressed in a grey cloak, powdered wig, and 3-cornered hat. According to legend, “The Man in Grey” appears just prior to a successful run, and he’s said to enjoy poking and kicking the actors. The ghost of actor Joe Grimaldi is a welcome sight by nervous thespians. Reports of his helpful guidance have surfaced on several occasions.

    The Orpheum Theatre, Memphis Tennessee

    Within the confines of the “south’s finest theater” lives the ghost of a young girl named Mary. Although no one knows exactly how she came to the Orpheum, the most accepted theories suggest she was either run over by a horse-drawn carriage or an automobile in front of the theater, or she fell to her death from a balcony while watching a performance. “Mary” tends to enjoy the view from seat C-5 and those who sit there claim to feel cold chills. Others have reportedly heard a child giggling and running through the halls, doors opening and closing on their own, and the pipe organ playing by itself. Still other accounts insist that Mary is responsible for turning all the chairs in her box backwards during performances she doesn’t like.

    The Paramount Theater, Seattle Washington

    According to local legend, this Seattle-based icon is primarily haunted by the ghost of a beautiful, red-haired woman. We first heard of this story on Halloween day a few years ago, when we used the Paramount for a company photo shoot. Built in 1928, the Paramount is one of Seattle’s oldest theaters, with more than one ghost reportedly seen by its former employees. However, having a personal encounter with one of these apparitions seems to be getting harder to come by. According to sources, this is due to all the rock concerts held at the theater, and only a select few of its eerie patrons still enjoy them.  (Ghost Stories from the Pacific Northwest, by Margaret Read MacDonald.1996 )

    Superstition in the World of Dance

    Whether you believe in ghosts or not, the fact remains that many dancers hold fast to their own unique rituals and good luck charms.

    Superstition

    Some dancers wear "lucky" jewelry for every performance.

    For example, Vanessa Zahorian a principal dancer with San Francisco Ballet says a prayer and kisses the ground before going onstage. She also wears a diamond pinkie ring which her parents gave her as a child during every performance, kept hidden from view courtesy of tape.

    Some dancers such as Jon Leher, director of contemporary dance company LeherDance in Buffalo, New York, believe luck comes from a little extra sweat. Literally. “I try to wash (my warm-up clothes) as little as possible,” he says.

    Other pre-performance rituals include everything from forming a circle and linking pinkies with corps members, applying perfume, to warming up or doing one’s hair and make-up in a precise order.

    Conclusion

    However you slice it, superstitions and rituals are just as much a part of the dance world as company class and daily stretching. So whether you exit your dressing room left-foot-first, whisper a prayer, or simply say “break a leg” to your peers, every performer has their own way of avoiding the personal--and paranormal—pitfalls of the theater.

    All photographs © Angela Sterling

    Dancer/Model Stacy Lowenberg, Pacific Northwest Ballet

    We invite you to post your own performance rituals or ghostly encounters.

  • Urban Nutcracker

    We are sharing this fun post from Dustin Todd Rennells that talks about creating all new costumes for Tony Williams', Urban Nutcracker.  Enjoy!

    by Dustin Todd Rennells

    Katrina Gould in Tony Williams' Urban Nutcracker Photo: RavenWolfe Photography Katrina Gould in Tony Williams' Urban Nutcracker Photo: RavenWolfe Photography

    This was one of my favorite overall projects to do for Urban Nutcracker. This tutu came to us at a great price from Class Act Tutu when I begged for a good price for our amazing show. It came naked just wine and black. Through the help of numerous volunteers all the gold window panes and sequined borders were sewn on and tacked down. First is Katrina Gould as Sugar with her backup of Sugar Plum Attendants in several beautiful images by RavenWolfe Photography. Next is my original drawing of the piece that I had envisioned. This is most likely the closest to my original idea. Lastly is the tutu we had used for 6+ years. Definitely a new concept here! Sugar embodies the city of Boston, wine/brick red like the buildings with glowing lights of a city during the holidays. Thanks to Anita Handy-Velasquez, Amanda Lapham, Yara Figueroa, Molly Mclaughlin-Drubin and Judith Alvarez for their additional work to this costume and headpiece. Based on original drawings by Rebecca Cross.

    Katrina Gould in Tony Williams' Urban Nutcracker Photo: RavenWolfe Photography Katrina Gould in Tony Williams' Urban Nutcracker Photo: RavenWolfe Photography
    Katrina Gould in Tony Williams' Urban Nutcracker Photo: RavenWolfe Photography Katrina Gould in Tony Williams' Urban Nutcracker    Photo: RavenWolfe Photography

     

    Katrina Gould in Tony Williams' Urban Nutcracker Photo: RavenWolfe Photography Katrina Gould in Tony Williams' Urban Nutcracker    Photo: RavenWolfe Photography

     

    Concept for Urban Nutcracker's Sugarplum by Dustin Todd Rennells. Concept for Urban Nutcracker's Sugarplum by Dustin Todd Rennells.
  • Reset

    We are so thrilled with how this custom costume turned out. This leotard/saucer tutu was created for Reset. Reset was choreographed by Justin Allen for a contemporary solo by Sarah Lapointe at the 2015  YoungArts Miami performance.

    Sarah is a student at The Rock School for Dance Education.  All Photos, ©Vikki Sloviter Photography.

    Sarah Lapointe, ©Vikki Sloviter Photography Sarah Lapointe, ©Vikki Sloviter Photography

  • Amazing Costumes on a Budget: Savannah Arts Academy

    The Wizard of Oz, Savannah Arts Academy - Lollipop

    Lollipop

    To kick-off our "Amazing Costumes on a Budget" series, we'd like to take a moment and introduce you to the talented Christina Powell-Dance Department Chair of the Savannah Arts Academy in Georgia. Christina knows all about creating fabulous, professional-looking costumes--without breaking the bank! When we asked if she'd be interested in sharing some of her best "trade secrets" with our readers, she eagerly accepted. So, if your dance production is in the middle of a financial bind, you might want to take a few notes. So grab a pen (or bookmark this page), and get ready to be inspired!

    Class Act: So tell us, what initially prompted you and the Savannah Arts Academy to be "beautiful on a budget"? Was this something you've always done or did the current economy have something to do with it?

    Christina Powell: Working for a public school in a dance department that is fully supported by fundraising efforts and ticket sales to productions (we receive no funding from the local or state government), we must be extremely creative with our funds. We must work around [financial] issues to be beautiful on a budget. We ask for a lot of help from local seamstresses who donate their time and sometimes even the cost of materials to create costumes for us. For tutus, we order the skirts with basques from Class Act Tutu and the matching basque fabric for the bodices. We then have parent volunteers or local costumers make the bodices for each dancer to complete the look. In addition, we sometimes work with fashion students from our local art college, Savannah College of Art and Design.

    Class Act: Are there any specific actions that you take to do this? How does it all come together?

    Christina Powell: Well, at the beginning of the year, I take inventory of our costume closet and create a list of the most wanted items that I’d like to purchase for the year. Two years ago, we ordered an entire set of white romantic tutu skirts from Class Act Tutu. This was our first big tutu purchase! In order to save money, we had the bodices made to complete the look. We used those tutus for a Swan Lake excerpt and for the Fairy Corps in Cinderella. We used them again this year for the Emerald City Corps during our ballet, "The Wizard of Oz". Each time we use the white tutus, we change the decoration to fit the part. For the Emerald City Corps, a parent volunteer added emerald tulle overlays and a gold ribbon design on the bodice. The tulle was purchased in bulk from Class Act Tutu. Outside of ordering tutus, we also order other costumes that I feel like we’ll get a lot of use out of. For example, we ordered some Rockette-like white costumes that we wore in our Winter Dance Concert. We used them again for a local holiday event in downtown Savannah. The girls dressed up as snowflakes using these same costumes. Then in, "The Love of Broadway", our final show this year, we used these costumes again with added gold accents to perform “One” from A Chorus Line. So, my advice is that you prioritize your costumes needs, determine what costumes you can get the most out of, and take baby steps each year until you create a wonderful costume closet!

    Class Act: You know, I wonder how many other dance companies will read this and think, "Hmm. Why didn't we think of that?" Now, I also heard that you re-decorate your tutus. Would you share some examples of that with us?
    The Wizard of Oz, Savannah Arts Academy - Poppies

    Poppies

    Christina Powell: Yes, we do this a lot! For the lollipop tutus, I ordered that set of costumes at the beginning of the year. For our Winter Dance Concert, we used those tutus for a Sleeping Beauty excerpt. Then, we redecorated them for the Lollipop Corps for Wizard of Oz. We do this for all of our tutus. We always sew decorations onto the costumes so that we can easily take them off to change the look for the next performance. Never use glue! Also, skirt overlays are a great way to add color to costumes and to completely change the original look. The skirt overlays work best on white romantic tutus.

    Class Act: Do you have any final words of advice or any "Top Tips" that you'd like to share before we close?

    Christina Powell: It is so easy to get overwhelmed with costuming needs, especially if you are just starting to build a costume closet and you’re on a budget. When I took over as the chair of the Savannah Arts Academy Department of Dance, we didn’t even own a tutu! That was two years ago. Now, we own two complete sets of romantic length tutus (a white set and a pink set), a set of euro-tutus (red for the Poppy Corps for Wizard of Oz),  four romantic tutus for the Cinderella fairies (Summer, Spring, Winter, and Autumn),  and several pancake tutus (Fairy Godmother, Mazurka lead for Cinderella, Wizard for Wizard of Oz, etc). We have already used the white tutus in four shows, and the pink tutus in two shows. The red pancake tutu has been worn for the Mazurka lead in Cinderella, the Spanish variation for Nutcracker, the Don Quixote pas de deux, and the Poppy Lead in Cinderella!  Lots of use out of the red pancake tutu! Also, the winter fairy tutu was also re-worn by Glinda the Good Witch for Wizard of Oz. The best advice I can give someone wanting to build a costume closet, is to prioritize! Think about what kinds of costumes you need for your upcoming shows. Think about what you can get the most out of. Start basic (a set of white romantic tutus is a great place to start! They are so versatile and beautiful on stage!!!), and again--take baby steps! Breathe! And most of all, have fun!

    Thank you so much, Ms. Powell! Your creative ideas are going to come in handy for so many dancers out there. We wish you and the Savannah Arts Academy continued success! If you'd like to learn more about the programs available through the Savannah Arts Academy or attend future performances, please click here.

    Denise Opper ~ Media Relations

  • Sightings: Cirque du Soleil Michael Jackson THE IMMORTAL World Tour

    We are so thrilled that one of our tutus is dancing with Cirque du Soleil.  Look for the black classical tutu skirt in "Dancing Machine"!

    For more information and to purchase tickets visit the Cirque du Soleil Micahel Jackson THE IMMORTAL World Tour page.

  • The Creation of a Black Swan Tiara

    Black Swan Design Sketch CJDLDESIGN

    Black

    We love sharing the work that goes on behind the scenes in dance and theater and for our clients.  One of our favorite artists/designers is Christine Joly de Lotbiniere of CJDLDESIGN. Whether it be masks, fabric dyeing & painting, tiaras or tutu embellishment (and more), Christine can do it all!

    Here is a post Christine did depicting some of the process involved in the  making of a Black Swan Tiara that she is creating for a Class Act Tutu client.  We cannot wait to unveil the finished product (along with the Black Swan Tutu that is in the works as well).  Keep watching!

    1. Using a thermoplastic coated synthetic felt, (which starts out flexible and becomes stiffer the more it's heated) and a heat-gun, I shape the material in a curve. Once it's formed and cooled I draw the design of the crown. Steel wire is then bent to conform to the design and sewn down by hand.

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    2. A second layer is formed to mimic the first. This surface layer includes recessed holes which will hold the swarovsky crystals. The design is then traced and cut out with a sharp blade.

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    3. The second layer is glued down over the first wired one. Multiple pins keep the layers sandwiched together.

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    4. Fitted onto a custom hammered copper tiara base, which I designed and built to fit the crown, I apply multiple layers of a pigmented wood filler (similar to but without the weight of gesso), sanding between each layer until the desired thickness is reached. I use an assortment of small rasps and files to carve and smooth the shape.

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    5. I work on the angle of the crown as it sits on the tiara base. This is left to dry/air cure for 2 to 3 days.

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    6. Size and silver leaf are applied over the crown and a portion of the base.

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    7. Pigmented varnish is then applied to tint the tiara to a gunmetal color. Swarovsky crystals are then affixed as are custom made jewels and settings. Not complete yet, copper combs will need to be soldered onto the tiara base which then will be wrapped in silk velvet ribbon dyed to match my customers haircolor.

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    This Black Swan Tiara can be purchased from CJDLDesign.

    If you would like to see more of Christine's design work along with some fun costume, art and fashion posts, view  CJDLDESIGN's Facebook page  for more of Christine's amazing work.

    If you are interested in custom tiaras, tutu embellishment or other professional quality costume design contact us.

  • Review: Pacific Northwest Ballet's 3 By Dove

    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.

    Vespers

    Pacific Northwest Ballet principal dancer Carrie Imler and soloist Lindsi Dec in Ulysses Dove’s Vespers.  Photo © Angela Sterling.

    Pacific

    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.

    Red Angels

    Pacific Northwest Ballet principal dancers Ariana Lallone and Olivier Wevers in Ulysses Dove’s Red Angels. Photo © Angela Sterling.

    Pacific

    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

     

     

    Pacific Northwest Ballet principal dancer Jonathan Porretta in Victor Quijada’s Suspension of Disbelief.  Photo © Angela Sterling.

    Pacific

    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.

    Serious Pleasures

    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...

    by Denise Opper, Media Relations Class Act Tutu & Vala Dancewear

    All photos © Angela Sterling.

    3 by Dove continues March 25-28 at McCaw Hall, Seattle.  Tickets Pacific Northwest Ballet.

     

     

     

  • Pacific Northwest Ballet's "Roméo et Juliette"

    Pacific Northwest Ballet principal dancer Kaori Nakamura and soloist James Moore in Jean-Christophe Maillot’s Roméo et Juliette.  Photo © Angela Sterling

    Pacific

    I recently had the privilege of viewing the matinee performance of Pacific Northwest Ballet’s Roméo et Juliette.   I was prepared to be delighted and entertained, being a tremendous fan of PNB already.   However, I must admit I was not prepared for the high caliber of dancing coupled with such flawless character interpretation as this.

    The PNB dancers breathed new life into Jean-Christophe Maillot’s intricate adaptation.   From the moment I saw actual credits rolling across the screen, I knew this would be no ordinary ballet with a modern twist.   This was history in the making.

    The scrawling black and white credits soon gave way to sets that were clean, pure and abstract.   The lighting played a greater role than I’d seen in the past, able to change the entire feel of a scene from a misty dream-like state one minute, to a cold starry night the next.

    The dancers were so in tune with their characters, you easily became lost in the performance.

    Kaori Nakamura’s Juliette was young, fresh and a bit of a “spoiled, wild child”.   From “flashing” her nurse (bad girl!), to her refusal to obey her Mother’s wishes and marry Paris, Nakamura successfully channels all the feisty rebelliousness of the teen years.  This is Nakamura's first time performing as Juliette, and she beautifully exceeds all expectations.

    James Moore’s Romeo is everything you’d expect from a bad boy from the wrong side of the tracks.  He’s playful, rambunctious, headstrong, and a bit of a show-off, especially with the ladies.  Yet for all his flaws, Moore’s Romeo was a character you couldn’t help but fall in love with.

    Olivier Weavers did a superb job as Friar Laurence. As both a silent narrator and active participant to this tragedy, his performance is raw and heartbreaking; his anguish palpable. He is forever trapped in a nightmare of his own making, desperate for forgiveness that will never come.

    Equally magnificent was the athleticism of the Friar’s two Acolytes, played by Jordan Pacitti and Sean Rollofson.  So much of their movement was done in slow, exaggerated motion: the turns, lifts, and carefully executed rolls off the stage were riveting and poetic.

    Principal dancer, Olivier Weavers as "Friar Lawrence" with the two Acolytes (Jordan Pacitti and Jerome Tisserand

    Principal

    Her Nurse, expertly played by Chalnessa Eames, was clearly outwitted--and at times overwhelmed--by her young charge’s antics. Although the Nurse’s movements were silly and comedic, they carried an undertone of seriousness to her tasks at hand. There was no question regarding her devotion to Juliette.

    Mara Vinson’s Lady Capulet was simply magnificent. From the moment she came into view she exuded superior control and confidence. Every inch the powerful matriarch, Vinson gave a performance so compelling I couldn’t take my eyes off of her.

    Seth Orza was a very convincing Tybalt. He successfully conveyed his character’s anger, sense of family pride, and deep loathing of the Montague’s. His movements were commanding, intimidating, and breath-taking.

    Mercutio and Benvolio played by Barry Kerollis and Josh Spell, round out the obnoxious Montague bunch. They live to aggravate and annoy the Capulets, most especially Tybalt. They played their roles as troublesome, arrogant pests with a hint of boyish foolishness, to the fullest.

    Jeffrey Stanton’s portrayal of Paris was perfect. He was quiet, unassuming, gentlemanly; a stark contrast from Tybalt and Romeo.

    Lesley Rausch played a sexy, sassy Rosaline. Her character is well-aware of her beauty and uses it to full advantage.

    Story Highlights

    The attraction between Romeo and Juliette was undeniably beautiful. The Balcony scene served as an exquisite moment of foreplay, aching with longing. Their wedding was simple and elegant; their wedding night resonating with passion and joy. It was in that moment that Juliette became the pursuer, with her Romeo succumbing to her charms. Watching these two, I couldn’t help but feel as though I was witnessing pure magic.

    With the dramatic fight scene at the end of Act II, the audience is suddenly catapulted into the midst of Friar Laurence’s nightmare. Like one possessed, he digs his fingers into the set as it moves eerily across the floor, trying in vain to stop the next chain of events.The terror unfolds in slow motion as the distraught Friar

    Principals Bakturel Bold and Jonathan Poretta

    Principal

    Laurence watches on in agony. This is the moment he was dreading. This is the moment when everything falls apart.

    As the action resumes normal speed, the brutality and its aftermath hit you full-force. Lady Capulet flails about in a wild rage, her grief unlike anything you’ve ever experienced. Paris must half-carry, half-drag her away from Tybalt’s lifeless form. Her heart takes another devastating blow with the loss of her daughter. She bitterly clings to the walls as if to say, “Take me now! I can’t bear this any longer!” As a mother, you feel her cries echo through your heart as she doubles over repeatedly in anguish. Yet her reaction is nothing compared to Romeo’s. As we know, Friar Laurence’s letter has not reached him in time. Romeo cannot—will not—bear this excruciating loss.

    As Juliette awakens from her slumber and discovers that her cherished Romeo is no more, you feel her gut-wrenching loss. Her body is wracked with sobs, her horrified expression crying out, “This was not how it was supposed to be!”

    Unable to bear the scene before him, Friar Laurence turns his back toward the grief-stricken Juliette and clings to the wall in shame and helplessness. Juliette then strangles herself and gently falls across her beloved’s body.

    Conclusion

    I was absolutely enthralled by this performance. It was magical, poignant, thrilling, devastating and beautifully complex. The dancer’s dramatic expressions, the careful subtleties of movement, and the striking character development work together to provide a rich, new layer to this Shakespearean tragedy. I'm so thankful to Peter Boal for adding this production to the company's repertoire.

    What may have initially felt like a bold move to my "classically inclined" mind, the performance left me with an even deeper respect for PNB as a whole. This is a company that is clearly up to any challenge a choreographer or director may throw their way.

    My co-worker and companion on this trip, Lisa-Marie, also found the performance captivating. In fact, this was her first time ever seeing a ballet so I'll let her reaction speak for itself: "I am spoiled for life! I can never see another ballet again without comparing it to Romeo et Juliette."

    Run—do not walk—to McCaw Hall and get your tickets to see Pacific Northwest Ballet’s Romeo et Juliette. You will not be disappointed.

    By Denise Opper

    Media Relations: Vala Dancewear/Class Act Tutu All Photos © Angela Sterling

    James Moore and Kaori Nakamura Romeo et Juliette

    Pacific

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