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Northwest Ballet's Open Rehearsal - Balanchine Centenary Program
by Francis Timlin
February 2004 --
McCaw Hall, Seattle
I spent an enjoyable evening in
the second balcony at dress rehearsal on Wednesday. This is a very well
rehearsed program and has something for everyone, whether you are a classicist
("Divertimento No. 15"), a modernist ("Agon"), or
a romantic ("Brahms-Schoenberg Quartet").
In "Divertimento No. 15," Noelani Pantastico looks splendid
in the Tanaquil LeClerq role (as does Kaori Nakamura in an alternate cast),
and Louise Nadeau was radiant in the Diana Adams role. Ms. Pantastico
continues to claim new principal dancer territory for her own, although
she remains a soloist. It is gratifying to see Ms. Nadeau looking strong,
confident, and extending herself to capture and own each moment of the
choreography. The men (Le Yin, Christophe Maraval, and Olivier Wevers
in this cast) were appropriately classical and attentive to their several
partners (a ratio of three men to five women in this work). Allan Dameron
kept the tempos well under control. The simple production designs -- preponderantly
yellow with robins egg blue filigree -- further the aura of the late 18th
"Agon" adheres as closely as possible to its original 1957 form,
including its black and white "practice clothes" costuming.
Paul Gibson, Melanie Skinner, and Alexandra Dickson were well matched
in the first Pas de Trois. Kaori Nakamura was outstanding in the second
Pas de Trois (the Melissa Hayden role), partnered by Jordan Pacitti and
Casey Herd. Ms. Russell wants the clapping (performed by the men during
the female variation) to be audible; the conductor, Stewart Kershaw, wants
it in time with the orchestra -- should be do-able by tonight. Patricia
Barker and Jeff Stanton performed the Pas de Deux. Ms. Barker "owns"
this Diana Adams role and has performed it within recent memory with more
than one partner. The barometer will continue to rise through the run
We were also treated to a look at an alternate cast following the first
run-through of "Agon." The first Pas de Trois features Jonathan
Porretta, Stacy Lowenberg, and Kylee Kitchens; the second, Noelani Pantastico
with Oleg Gorboulev and Christophe Maraval. The Pas de Deux couple (whom
I had seen at an earlier rehearsal) is superb: Louise Nadeau and Olivier
Wevers. It would be worthwhile to attend a second performance to ensure
seeing both Pas de Deux couples in Agon.
Although "Divertimento No. 15" and "Agon" would appear
on the surface to be a strong stylistic contrast, they share a time frame
within the Balanchine canon: the mid-1950s. With the "Brahms-Schoenberg
Quartet," we are in another time frame (1966), and a different group
of dancers has appeared -- most notably, Patricia McBride and Suzanne
Farrell. Watching this work alongside the work of the previous decade
is an interesting study in Balanchine's development.
In the first movement, Kaori Nakamura and Jeff Stanton took the Melissa
Hayden/Andre Prokovsky roles, while Ariana Lallone hovered about in a
role that strikes me as being created for Violette Verdy (if anyone knows
for certain, please let me know). Louise Nadeau and Christophe Maraval
radiated youthful charm in the Patricia McBride/Conrad Ludlow roles in
the second movement. Patricia Barker and Stanko Milov moved majestically
in the third movement. Carrie Imler and Casey Herd commanded the stage
in the finale. Ms. Imler's speed, precise articulation, elevation, and
lightning fast pirouettes were an inspiration. On a second run-through
of selected spots, we also saw Ariana Lallone and Stanko Milov (out of
costume, but eager to have their time with the orchestra) in the fourth
movement. Their movement dynamics are a contrast to Ms. Imler and Mr.
Herd, but no less effective.
Edited by Lori Ibay
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