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Pacific Northwest Ballet


by Dean Speer

June 9, 2011 -- McCaw Hall, Seattle, Washington

Attending the Dance Critics Association’s annual Conference in Seattle had the added bonus of many of us attending a showing of Pacific Northwest Ballet’s reconstructed and reconstituted “Giselle.” Fun for me as not only did I get to meet and greet new and old colleagues but also to see another cast from the one I had seen when I first attended during my regular subscription night the week before.

This round, in addition to enjoying Jeffrey Stanton’s Hilarion, we were treated to Lesley Rausch as the title heroine, Batkhurel Bold as Albrecht, former PNB soloist Melanie Skinner as Giselle’s mother, Lindsi Dec as Myrtha, Chalnessa Eames and Sarah Ricard Orza as Myrtha's attendants, Moyna and Zulmé, and two dancers in their youthful prime for the Peasant Pas de deux, Amanda Clark and Andrew Bartee.

Until she eased into the mad scene, Rausch radiated joy and soubrette attributes associated with this perky and bright villager throughout. Her arabesques en fondu at the conclusion of the famous motifs were deep, extended up, and held. I loved her hops en pointe – she did them more as ballonées, alternating with bring the leg across en attitude, whereas last week, Kaori Nakamura did them entirely as a series of ballonées only and with the accent out, rather than in. Bold tends to play Loys, aka Albrecht in disguise as a fellow peasant, more on the darker side than Lucien Postlewaite, who was more of a bon vivant.

Many reported to me being greatly moved by Act II, as was I, with its poignant pas de deux as Giselle is compelled by Myrtha to dance away from her grave and thus no longer able to protect Albrecht.

It’s clear to me that Rausch is being groomed for great things and as some murmured throughout the house, “She should be a principal after tonight!”

It’s a paean of praise to PNB that they have the depth of dancers– as they long have now – to have multiple casts of ballets and each one brings something special, as did this one.

My only fuss would be that the conductor never quite meshed with any of the casts I saw for the Peasant Pas de deux. Conducting for the ballet can be a tricky thing, with the old anecdote about the conductor asking the choreographer, “And how do you want the music? Too fast or too slow?” de Cou had a bit of trouble with the internal tempo changes, Clark’s petit allegro in particular, and my advice might be to get up and move himself to see how it feels, rather than relying on how something clocked by a metronome or by what he thinks is going to happen. She adjusted well but I could tell the tempo was a bit heated. A small change for a musician can be a huge one for a dancer.

While I don’t know what the dancers’ feelings were about having a veritable stable of dance writers observing them in one block, I do know that we all support and love the art of dance and hope this warmth carried up across the footlights to the stage.

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