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Tag Archives: Angela Sterling

  • Interview: Pacific Northwest Ballet Soloist, Lindsi Dec - Part One

    Pacific Northwest Ballet (PNB) soloist, Lindsi Dec is not only a gifted dancer but is also one of the lovely Vala Dancewear models!  With her graceful lines, powerful stage presence and classic beauty, Lindsi captivates and dazzles her audience, while her passion, determination, and strong work ethic make her an inspiration to today’s young dancers.
    Lindsi recently took some time out of her busy schedule to chat with Class Act Tutu’s Denise Opper both at home in Seattle and in between performances at the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival. Her answers will be chronicled in a series of posts here on the Class Act Tutu blog, and will feature some personal “behind the scenes” photos Lindsi graciously agreed to share with our readers.

    Pacific Northwest Ballet soloist Lindsi Dec (center) and company members dance the Waltz of the Flowers in PNB's Stowell/Sendak Nutcracker.  Photo ©  Angela Sterling.

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    About Lindsi Dec

    Class Act: Hello, Lindsi. Thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to chat with me today.
    Lindsi:  Oh, it’s my pleasure!
    Class Act: Let’s begin by having you share a little about yourself.
    Lindsi: Well, let’s see. I’m 27 years old and I recently married Karel Cruz, a principal PNB dancer. (Her infectious smile was evident through the phone.)
    Class Act: Wow, congratulations! So does being married to a fellow dancer make life easier in a sense?
    Lindsi: Oh, yes definitely! He understands what my crazy life is like completely. It’s wonderful; I wouldn’t have it any other way.

    In The Beginning

    Class Act: That’s terrific. So now, let’s discuss your dance background for a moment. What age did you begin your training, what schools did you attend, and was ballet something you always felt drawn to?
    Lindsi: Well, my mom enrolled me in dance classes when I was 3 years old—ballet, tap and jazz—I actually hated ballet at first. I was more into tap/jazz at that point.
    Class Act: Oh my goodness, really? I never would’ve guessed. So what made you change your mind?

    The Inspiration

    Lindsi: When I was about 13, my mom took me to the Kennedy Center to see Miami City Ballet perform Rubies and—that was it!  I told my mom I wanted to perform the same role (tall girl).

    Pacific Northwest Ballet soloist Lindsi Dec in George Balanchine’s Rubies.  Choreography © The George Balanchine Trust.  Photo © Angela Sterling.

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    When I was 14, I started focusing on ballet but my private school refused to credit my ballet classes toward the athletic graduation requirement.  So, I had to quit dance for awhile because of that and had to play soccer and attend a self-defense class to complete the requirements over two semesters.  Then later, when I returned to ballet, I felt I had to work harder than all the other girls because I was so far behind, but it was worth it.  I then trained at the Washington School of Ballet, which is where I really began to improve.  I attended 3 summer courses at Houston Ballet on scholarship, then after high school I attended PNB’s summer program.  From there, I was in their PD (Professional Division) for 2 years, and then joined the company as an apprentice in 2001.

    ….Be sure to check back soon to read the next installment where Lindsi shares a typical “Day in the Life,” as well as the challenges of being a tall dancer!

  • Pacific Northwest Ballet's "Director's Choice"

    From the theater staff to the attendees to the performers, the excitement of opening night was unmistakable.  Pacific Northwest Ballet’s introduction of two brand new pieces and a replay of two favorites translated into an evening to remember.

    Petite Mort

    Seth&SaraPetiteMort

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    The night began with Petite Mort, (French for “The Little Death” and a metaphor for sexual climax), the first work by European choreographer Jiri Kylian to be acquired by Pacific Northwest Ballet.  With six men, six women, and six foils the piece has been described as exuding energy, silence, and sexuality.  It does just that.

    Petite Mort starts with six men facing upstage backing slowly toward the orchestra pit in silence.  The stillness is broken at first only by the sound of the swords cutting through the air.  The men partnering with their swords create a dangerous tension and excitement.  The choreography plays between the men, the swords, the women and dark, baroque style dresses.  These dresses, at times, appear to dance completely on their own.  There are some light hearted moments with the foils and the dresses that allowed the audience a laugh and provided a needed respite.

    A special treat in this performance included partnering between two of the company’s married couples:  Seth Orza and Sarah Ricard Orza and Lindsi Dec and Karel Kruz.  In the sensual pas de deux, these real-life married couples, along with principal dancers Lucien Postlewaite and Kaori Nakamura, showcased both precision in movement as well as emotion.

    I look forward to more pieces from this brilliant choreographer.

    The music (Mozart’s Piano Concerto in A Major - Adagio and Piano Concerto in C Major – Andante) also warrants special mention.  With the resignation of Maestro Stewart Kershaw, Allan Dameron is acting Music Director and Conductor.  Dameron performed masterfully as both pianist and conductor for this piece.

    Mopey

    JamesMooreMopey3

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    This 14-minute male solo of “adolescent meltdown” was first performed by PNB in 2005.  The cult classic, performed by soloist, James Moore was pure perfection.

    Moore’s fluidity of movement demonstrated both his raw strength and masculine grace.  The agony of the journey from boy to man with all of the temptations and mistakes made along the way was nothing short of mesmerizing.

    For three perspectives on Mopey, see seattledances blog interview with James Moore and two other dancers cast for this run, Soloist Benjamin Griffiths and Principal, Jonathan Poretta.

    The Seasons

    This was the world premiere of The Seasons, choreographed by Val Caniparoli.  The Seasons is a balletic allegory of the four seasons danced to the music of Alexander Glazunov (Op.67, 1899).  The Seasons is served up against a simple and very striking set and presented with innovative costume design.  Both set and costumes were designed by Sandra Woodall.  I cannot even begin to describe the brilliance in executing these costume design concepts.  Check out this video posted by PNB as a special thanks to the costume shop for a taste:  PNB's The Seasons Costume Preview.

    The Seasons opened in winter  and it appeared that it was snowing stars.  Thus the magical blend of contemporary and classical ballet began.  There were delightful gnomes lighting fires to melt the snow and change the scene to spring.  Kaori Nakamura as the Swallow truly took flight—both on her own and with the aid of the Zephyr, Lucien Postlewaite.  You could see the fun and frolic in Barry Kerolis as a faun.   With its cast of birds, satyrs, fauns, flowers and gnomes, this piece has something for everyone.

    West Side Story

    West Side Story is an abbreviated version of the musical of the same name.  Choreographer Jerome Robbins (along with Peter Genarro) extracted this sequence of dances originally for the New York City Ballet in 1995.

    This piece is just plain fun and allows the dancers to try their hand at singing and showing off a completely different style.  Principal, Carla Körbes was a delight as the spunky, Anita seeming to be transformed both in looks (her blonde hair covered in a dark wig) and technique.

    Pacific Northwest Ballet principal dancer Carla Körbes (center) with Company dancers in Jerome Robbins’ West Side Story Suite. Photo © Angela Sterling.

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    PNB’s Director’s Choice runs from November 5–15, 2009.

    Don’t miss it!

    All photos  © Angela Sterling.

  • 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

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    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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