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Gala Redux

Pacific Northwest Ballet's '8 Encores'

by Dean Speer

8 June 2008 - McCaw Hall, Seattle, Washington, USA

By any other measure, PNB’s concluding program of the season – “8 Encores” – is a gala affair, but without the buffet or onstage dancing following.

This year’s edition was festive but too bittersweet in that we were also saying “thank-you!” and “farewell” to a handful of dancers important to the company: Casey Herd, Noelani Pantastico, Rebecca Johnston, Kara Zimmerman, Alison Basford, and Adrienne Diaz.

The eight encores presented included excerpts from “Square Dance,” “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” “Vespers,” “In The Night,” the complete new Susan Stroman “Take Five...More or Less,” the sailors’ solos from “Fancy Free,” the balcony scene from “Roméo et Juliette,” and the David Parsons’ trompe d’oeil, “Caught.”  Bonuses were a repeat of “Caught” but with Pantastico, and the thrill of enjoying the complete last movement of Balanchine’s “Ballet Imperial.”  Too bad for those who slipped out when they mistakenly thought the evening was done!

I wish there were enough cyber space to write about everyone.  Some of the highlights for me include enjoying Carrie Imler on top of her game in “Square Dance” with the ever-energetic and superb Jonathan Porretta (we tend to think of him as an “allegro” dancer, but the introspective male solo allowed him to explore and show us the depth he can find in an adagio);

Louise Nadeau and Olivier Wevers limpid in their “Divertissement pas de deux” from “A Midsummer Night’s Dream; the core intensity of Linsdi Dec, Rachel Foster, Johnston, Kaori Nakamura, Jodie Thomas, and Zimmerman in Ulysses Dove’s poignant modern dance “Vespers”; Ariana Lallone and Stanko Milov’s deep interpretation of the second pas de deux from Jerome Robbins’ “In the Night.”

“Ballet Imperial” with Miranda Weese and Herd as the principal couple was truly thrilling.  Johnston, caught up in the concluding moment of her performing career, shed a few tears – while dancing perfectly and in sync with the rest of the corps.  I so appreciate her being an honest artist – genuine in every part and role.

The all-too brief couple of hours encapsulated why we so like and adore PNB so much – with ballets from the light and bright, to blossoming passion, to ballet’s grand traditions – the dancers, crew, musicians, and everyone behind the scenes each deserves our deep appreciation and speaks to the pride PNB engenders in it base of loyal fans.

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