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Pacific Northwest Ballet Choreographers' Showcase

Preview of PNB's Choreographers' Showcase Frames Dancers' New Works

Vivacious Voicing

by Dean Speer

PNB Principal Dancer Olivier Wevers is one of the PNB dancers whose new choreographic work will be shown in a special, one-time outing on the boards of Seattle’s McCaw Hall next Wednesday (3/23/05). Mr. Wevers took a few minutes from his busy rehearsal schedule – having a stage run-through of "The Merry Widow" the night of our interview – to talk about this important project. Other company members contributing works to the program are: Jonathan Porretta; Kiyon Gaines; Christophe Maraval; and PNB School faculty member Sonia Dawkins. Nicholas Ade is serving as coordinator for this project.

DS: Please tell us about this project. What is its genesis?

OW: PNB did one last year as a gift to our subscribers and it was so successful, we wanted to do it again. The budget is tighter this year, so we (the choreographers) didn’t actually know if it was going to come off or not until February. It’s a project that needs to pay for itself. We knew who would be making ballets for the show and some of us were ready to get started working last September but we had to wait.

Tell us about your piece.

It’s to music by Christopher Rouse, his One’s Symphony. My original concept was to use the entire 26 minute work but I have had to cut that about in half, due to the time constraints for creating with the dancers. We’ve had to work very quickly and in my case, I have thrown a lot of material at the dancers. In fact, today was the last half-hour rehearsal until the day before the show. We have just one more run-through rehearsal next week and then it’s the dress rehearsal and show on the same day.

There is narrative to my piece but it’s not overt. The music is intense with extremes of dynamics and energy. I use two couples who switch partners, plus a corps of 8. Mr. Rouse first composed his music for the Baltimore Symphony for a gala in the mid ‘80s. The ending is not what I first had in mind, due to the need to cut the length of the piece, but am basically pleased with how it’s turned out!

Kaori Nakamura is cast with Jonathan Porretta, and Noelani Pantastico is with Lucien Postlewaite. Kaori and Lucien end up together at the end and Laura Gilbreath has a solo female role.

How would you characterize your choreographic style or voice?

I’m trying to find my own voice and not copy from anywhere. I think it’s organic, grounded, not necessarily pretty but beautiful and I have tried to incorporate more of this organic movement onto pointe. There’s some arching of the backs in different ways, inverted feet and I think there is a marvelous sensuality to it.

I see a mood and feeling and try to reproduce this with the dancers. My piece is more about movement aesthetics and quality than about classical positions. I like the dancers to feel the music, rather than merely count the beats. They relate and react to each other which creates a visual counterpoint.

How would you summarize the works of the others?

Jonathan’s is totally entertaining. Kiyon is using some challenging music. Christophe’s is soft, quiet, and romantic and Sonia’s is urban and edgy.

Anything else you’d like the readers to know about?

Many people like yourself are hungry for new choreography and we are wanting to build support for new choreography.

Further images from rehearsals for "Choreographers' Workshop" ...


For more about the Choreographers’ Showcase, click here.

Edited by Staff.

Read related stories in the press and see what others are saying. Click here.


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