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Class Act Tutu Blog

  • Coppelia - A Young Girl's Dream Come True

    Photo Credit: Denise Opper


    Back in May 2010, Dean and I took Abby to see PNB's production of Coppelia. She was so excited that day and took special care to wear her best dress (white, mid-calf length, lots of sequins and a small sparkly tiara in her hair), and kept biting her nails in anticipation.

    As we watched the ballet, she would smile, laugh and gasp with delight every few moments. She was in her element! Then as the curtain rose on Act 3 and a beautiful row of girlies dressed in glittering pink and gold tutus appeared, my girl was speechless. Breathless even! ;)

    After a moment she leaned over in the dark and whispered with her eyes as big as saucers, "Mommy! How did those girls get to do that?" "They're from the PNB school, honey." I whispered back.

    Abby continued to watch, spellbound. Then at the end of the performance she asked, "Okay. So, how do I get in the school?" At that time, she was still dancing at her local ballet school, but already things were starting to look sketchy for the new year. I explained how she would have to audition, which she immediately asked, "When can I audition??" I told her we'd talk about it later. (Ahem)

    Later during the performance's Post Show Q&A, Abby walked right up and sat in the front row of chairs. (For the record, I never opt to sit in the front row...) After listening to a few adults ask their questions, she asked Olivier Wevers what he liked about playing the role of Dr. Coppelius (her other favorite part). He was very gracious and said he liked "playing with a character" and that was what made it fun for him. Then she asked the Artistic Director, Peter Boal how old the girls in Act 3 were. His response was, "Levels 3 and 4, maybe some 5's. So anywhere from about 10 to 13 or 14." Abby was 10 at the time and so you can imagine how much this pleased her.

    As we left McCaw Hall that day, I noticed Abby looked deep in thought. When questioned, she simply said, "I'm thinking about how happy I am that I wore my best dress today." And why's that? "So that when I come back and audition for PNB, Mr. Boal will know who I am!" {#itdoesntworkthatway}

    Fast forward to September 18th, 2010. She gets in to the school.

    She was placed in Level 3 but sadly, Coppelia was not scheduled to be performed again. At least not yet. So Abby continued to work hard and hoped (and prayed a whole lot) that one day soon, Coppelia would be done again and that she'd get a part.

    Last summer, it was announced that Coppelia would once again grace the stage during the company's 2011/12 Season.

    There was a lot of speculation as to who would be chosen, how tall or how short you had to be, etc. With every passing rumor, Abby grew more impatient waiting for the Cast letters to go out. Then two friends received a letter. Then three friends. And at long last, so did she....

    I'm pleased to announce that Abby received a letter in the mail announcing that she had been chosen to perform in this year's production of Act 3...wearing the very pink and gold costume that ignited her determination to get into the school two years earlier!

    I'm so thankful to God for granting yet another exciting blessing in my daughter's life. To get the chance to perform in the very same production that catapulted her desire to attend the school into the stratosphere is nothing short of awesome! :)

    *Written by Denise Opper; originally published on the author's blog, Got Chai? *

    You can catch Pacific Northwest Ballet's Coppelia June 1st - 10th. Visit for tickets.

  • Pacific Northwest Ballet's Apollo & Carmina Burana is Heaven on Earth

    Pacific Northwest Ballet soloist Sarah Ricard Orza and principal dancer Batkhurel Bold in Apollo, choreographed by George Balanchine © The George Balanchine Trust. Photo © Angela Sterling


    On Saturday evening, Pacific Northwest Ballet pulled out all the stops and delivered one of their most riveting double-features this season.

    Balanchine's Apollo featured principal dancer, Batkhurel Bold in the title role. As the curtain rose on the handsome deity (poised ever so gallantly with his lyre, eyes cast toward heaven), Bold exuded an air of quiet confidence. His dancing felt reflective, deliberate, even dare I say? – more mature than other Apollos I’ve seen. But let’s not confuse maturity with boring. While Bold certainly lacked the open arrogance that so often permeates this role, he could not be accused of lacking the necessary charisma to bring the character to fruition. His interpretation left a fresh stamp of ingenuity to what could have easily been seen as, “the same ol’ Apollo”.

    Dancing alongside the young god were the three beautiful muses, Terpsichore (Sarah Ricard Orza), Calliope (Maria Chapman), and Polyhymnia (Lesley Rausch). While both Chapman and Rausch were dazzling to look upon and almost threatened to steal the show right out from under our dear Apollo, the beguiling Sarah Ricard Orza actually managed to do just that – in spades. Her interpretation of Terpsichore was so moving, so genuine, so gorgeous…it gave me chills. (It’s no wonder Apollo was already so mature from the get-go with a breathtaking muse like that to impress!)

    But for all of Apollo’s strengths – which were many, they paled just slightly next to the colossal masterpiece known as Carmina Burana.

    In this dramatic second act, the combination of sight and sound was fantastic. Ming Cho Lee’s gigantic golden Wheel of Fortune acts as an impressive - albeit slightly imposing – canopy, suspended high above the menagerie of dancers. In Primo Vere, peasant girl Kaori Nakamura burst from the wings like a dazzling sunbeam, while her gallant partner, James Moore was equally dynamic with his radiant smile and tireless energy.

    Cour d’Amour featuring Maria Chapman and Karel Cruz was filled with all the lovely nuances that make ballet great. Their sweeping lyrical movements were a perfect mix of grace, technical prowess, and bridled strength. I especially loved how Cruz seemed to hang in the air with each jump and turn, while Chapman used her innate charm to draw all eyes toward herself like a beloved queen.

    Acclaimed set designer Ming Cho Lee's colossal twenty-six-foot golden wheel shares the stage with the Seattle Choral Company and Pacific Northwest Ballet company dancers in Kent Stowell’s Carmina Burana. Photo © Angela Sterling


    Yet for all the beauty of these two movements, the real show stopper was In Taberna featuring Lindsi Dec, and she.was.phenomenal! Dressed in a fiery Arabian-esque ensemble, she was the embodiment of lust and temptation. As she sashayed across the stage, this gorgeous vixen used the beauty God gave her (with the devil’s design) to her advantage at every turn. Her dancing was electrifying, commanding and straight-up awesome.

    One of Dec’s unwitting admirers (victims?) was Benjamin Griffiths. His portrayal of a tortured soul caught between heaven’s forgiveness and hell’s fury was beyond awesome. Not only can this man jump like it’s no one’s business, but he can cultivate a character that has more facets and depth than I ever thought possible. Bravo!

    The spectacular vocal backdrop provided by the Seattle Choral Company, along with the solo tenor (Marcus Shelton), baritone (Michael Anthony McGee) and soprano (Christina Siemens), rivaled the angels themselves. Their pitch-perfect delivery carried the performance along from start to glorious finish.

    Get your tickets to Pacific Northwest Ballet's Apollo and Carmina Burana at or by calling 206-441-2424.

  • Sightings!

    Photo: Rosalie O’Connor. Ballet Academy East 2009 “our special waltz”, choreographed by Stacy Caddell.


    Check out this stunning photo featuring ABT professional division student, Hannah Marshall wearing our Romantic tutu skirt and sweetheart bodice in Ballet Pink!

    The photo is featured in the article, "Like Mother, Like Daughter - When Ballet Careers Run in the Family" in the April/May 2012 issue of Pointe Magazine. Doesn't she look amazing..?!

  • Ballet Fans Can Feel the Moves

    Art by Chris Nash


    When it comes to watching ballet, some fans may actually feel as though they're right up there dancing, at least according to findings published in the current issue of the journal PLoS One.

    According to research, spectators showed muscle-specific responses in their brain as if they were expert dancers. Read all about it here.

    What do you think? Do you "feel" as though you're dancing from your seat? I have to admit, sometimes it sure seems that way. :)

  • 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


    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

  • Freed of London: Putting Dancers' best feet forward

    A Freed shoemaker shapes the box with a mallet, the final step before the shoes go into the kiln to dry. Each cobbler makes 50 pairs a day, which are imprinted with their maker's mark. (Marcia Adair / For the Times)


    Tucked away in the side streets of Mayfair, the world-famous tailors of Savile Row make gentleman's suiting to order for businessmen, gentry, politicians, oligarchs and Saudi princes.

    Six miles to the east, in Hackney, lies another temple to old-school English craftsmanship: Freed of London, makers of custom pointe shoes since 1929. In a small workshop flanked by midrise apartment blocks, a no-frills sandwich café and a betting parlor, 12 shoemakers each transform satin, canvas, cardboard, burlap and leather into 40 pairs of pointe shoes each a day. (Read more here)

    Are YOU a Freed dancer? What are YOUR thoughts on your shoes and/or your maker?

  • Baryshnikov: Dancer, Actor and...Photographer?

    Baryshnikov PhotographyMikhail Baryshnikov will proudly unveil his photographic work in a solo exhibition scheduled to open tomorrow, February 24th in Miami.

    In "Dance This Way," Baryshnikov turns the camera on ethnic, hip-hop, ballet, modern and popular dances around the world. The show's title, Baryshnikov says, is meant to be both commanding and descriptive. He wants the dancers to move toward his camera, and he wants to show what he sees in their dances. "I'm interested in focusing on body parts, the movements which really one cannot notice in the audience," says Baryshnikov, 64.

    Interesting, wouldn't you say? You can read all it here.

  • Putting a Ring on It

    valentines-day-rosesDancing with the one you love—isn’t that everyone’s dream? What are the pleasures—and the challenges—of sharing your stage life with your partner in marriage?

    Check out this great piece from Dance Magazine featuring beautiful dancing couples, including Seattle's own Olivier Wevers and Lucien Postlewaite.

    Happy Valentine's Day, everyone!

  • Dance Awards Bestowed Upon Baryshnikov and Forsythe

    Congratulations to two incredible artists!

    Mikhail Baryshnikov has been awarded the Vilcek Prize for the Arts, an award which honors the contributions of foreign-born artists and scientists in the United States, while choreographer William Forsythe has been awarded the 2012 Samuel H. Scripps/American Dance Festival Award for Lifetime Achievement from The American Dance Festival. Read more here.

  • ABT's Misty Copeland Visits Her Hometown

    20120209__mistylb_500Copeland is only the third black soloist with the prestigious dance company and the first in two decades. Her goal, she says, is to become the first black principal dancer for a major U.S. ballet company.

    It's a heady goal, but Copeland has been wowing observers ever since she wandered into a weekly ballet class at the San Pedro Boys and Girls Club as a teenager.

    Read about Copeland's visit here. Don't forget to check out the awesome photo gallery!

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