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Pacific Northwest Ballet - 'The Romantics'

Without Boundaries

by Dean Speer

March 18, 2004 -- McCaw Hall, Seattle, WA

I might be tempted to retitle PNB’s most recent foray onto the boards of McCaw Hall as "The Moderns." I found only one of the dance works, "Roses" by Paul Taylor, to have a heightened sense of romance to it, although Artistic Director and resident choreographer Kent Stowell "Delicate Balance" certainly had the wonderful look and feel to it of the "piano" ballets that became popular about 30 or so years ago. Originally created in 1988, which was also filmed and broadcast for Seattle’s local PBS television station, Stowell’s "Delicate Balance" has held up very well and it was a pleasure and joy to see it again after so many years. A chamber-sized ballet, it’s one of Mr. Stowell's most outstanding and is a very "accessible" work. Louise Nadeau was particularly daring and exciting in Deborah Hadley's old role and was partnered by one of PNB’s best, Jeffrey Stanton. Each of the dancers in this ensemble work have soloistic assignments and it was thrilling to the see principal level artists, Patricia Barker/Stanko Milov, Jodie Thomas/Le Yin and Carrie Imler.

"Dual Lish" invites me to want to call it "Delish!" A piece d’occasion set to rags by Seattle composer William Balcom, it’s a duet by Stowell for the supremely talented Noelani Pantastico and Jonathan Porretta. Turns, jumps, and balances are the means of interplay between these two amazing dancers, who radiate such joy when they perform, it’s infectious and uplifting.

Nicolo Fonte’s new "Within/Without" is a major new acquisition. Here I found the choreographic elements and structure to have been stronger and more interesting than its presumed springboard, the music. I find Arvo Pärt’s compositional palette to be of a gray hue. The texture of this hue changes with the baritone solo but it’s still of the same color. The challenging duet created for Ariana Lallone and Olivier Wevers was very kinetic and central to the ballet. PNB’s wonderful dancers were clearly "into" Fonte’s work and committed. This was exciting and compelling. The audience gave them and the work and deserved standing (and noisy!) ovation. "Within/Without" is a cousin to the great "Artifact II" by William Forsythe.

"Roses" certainly gave off the bloom of the scent of young Spring and of a romantic world that never was but only exists in our idealized dreams. I sometimes find myself saying publically and otherwise that if I had it to do all over again, I would aspire to be in the Paul Taylor Dance Company. Many of his works are very strong artistic statements and, dare I say, movement masterpieces. I’d have to put Roses in that category for sure. Set to the Wagner "Siegfried Idyll" and Baermann’s "Adagio for Clarinet and Strings," this is a lesson in choreography. It builds in strength, slowly - it’s not a splashy piece. And at its conclusion, when all of the couples sit cradled in each others arms, as if looking at a fading and glorious sunset, there is a collective sigh that ripples throughout the house. Heartbreakingly beautiful.

Edited by Mary Ellen Hunt.

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