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 Post subject: Pacific Northwest Ballet: Serenade and Carmina Burana
PostPosted: Sat Apr 10, 2004 5:28 pm 
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PNB opens its April 2004 repertory program with Balanchine's Serenade and Kent Stowell's Carmina Burana on Thursday, April 15 at McCaw Hall in Seattle. R. M. Campbell previews in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer:

http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/classical/168287_pnb09.html

Carole Beers in the King County Journal:

http://www.kingcountyjournal.com/sited/story/html/160900

Mike Murray in the Everett Herald:

http://www.heraldnet.com/ae/story.cfm?file=04040918445574.cfm


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 Post subject: Re: Pacific Northwest Ballet: Serenade and Carmina Burana
PostPosted: Sun Apr 11, 2004 5:20 pm 
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Olivier Wevers is interviewed by Sam Bennett in the Journal Newspapers (eight weekly community newspapers in the Seattle area) on Carmina Burana:

http://www.zwire.com/site/news.cfm?BRD=1024&dept_id=527968&newsid=11226972&PAG=461&rfi=9


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 Post subject: Re: Pacific Northwest Ballet: Serenade and Carmina Burana
PostPosted: Sun Apr 11, 2004 5:43 pm 
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Casting is now available at:

http://www.pnb.org/season/carmina-casting.html


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 Post subject: Re: Pacific Northwest Ballet: Serenade and Carmina Burana
PostPosted: Fri Apr 16, 2004 7:40 am 
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The costume on Ariana Lallone is as hot on stage as it looks in this photo!

<img src="http://www.criticaldance.com/images/pnb/pnb_carmina_1_web.jpg" alt="" />


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 Post subject: Re: Pacific Northwest Ballet: Serenade and Carmina Burana
PostPosted: Fri Apr 16, 2004 11:57 am 
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Performance of a Lifetime
[b]Pacific Northwest Ballet

Opening Night, Thursday, 15 April 2004[/b]
McCaw Hall, Seattle, Washington
by Dean Speer

Our minds and spirits were far, far away from tax time as we experienced the profound and moving joys of Pacific Northwest Ballet’s April repertory round of Mr. Balanchine’s great masterwork, Serenade and Artistic Director Kent Stowell’s powerful Carmina Burana.

It may have been opening night energy or the knowledge that these are the last performances of these ballets under the current artistic leadership or a confluence of many factors, but never the less, this show really was a performance of a lifetime. The Company and each individual artist within were really “into it” in a way that can only be described as a full maturity “... that that magical place demands [the stage].” - Martha Graham (quote). From the first lift of Conductor Allan Dameron’s baton for Serenade, each performer, including the musicians, attacked the movement and music with heart, gusto, and bravura. I just finished watching San Francisco Ballet do Serenade a couple of weeks ago, where they do this ballet at a slower tempo, and I just knew we were in for an exhilarating ride from the opening measures of Tchaikovsky’s famous chord strains.

Watching Louise Nadeau transform her dance character self from bright and sprightly to one of great tragedy and acceptance and, perhaps even welcome, of her fate – being lifted up and transported to ballet heaven, as this viewer sees it, was genuine artistry and as this ballet always does with me, moves me greatly, sometimes to tears, and often to quivering jello.

Carrie Imler and Melanie Skinner were well matched and it was thrilling to see them charge, dancing at full steam ahead. What marvelous and fearless attack and joy each brought. Ms. Skinner also made a wonderful “dark angel” and it was exciting to see the amplitude of her arabesque in the slow, supported at the knee, promenade and how she extended herself as the two turns were concluding. Teaching and coaching phrasing is an elusive thing but certainly necessary and you could see phrasing in Skinner’s dancing. “Cantabile” is how I like to see movement go, and here it was. Singing movement throughout.

While partnering skills are uniformly quite good throughout the male population of this Company, I have to say I was very impressed with the extremely high level, sensitivity and strength of Christophe Maraval. He did everything and with more. Nadeau and Jeffrey Stanton were perfectly matched for the second movement waltz and it looked like a playful dialogue between two artists who completely understand, trust, and enjoy each other.

For me, the heart of Serenade is the “Elegie” which Mr. Balanchine had the genius and vision to make the last movement, rather than as third as intended by the composer. Here Maraval’s with Nadeau were more like the pas de deux from Act II of Giselle – meaningful; each gesture a whisper of meaning and deep tragedy, regret. Thank you, Francia Russell – and Company – for giving us a rendition of Serenade that has to be one of the best on the planet. Fresh, exciting, moving and a performance of a lifetime.

Everything about Kent Stowell’s Carmina Burana is big. Enormous. Huge in concept and design, this ballet to Carl Orff’s famous music and text, is a “wow!” ballet and sure-fire audience pleaser. A full company work using 37 dancers, 87 singers, and full pit orchestra, Carmina fills the stage with visual imagery and dance that utilizes the concept of the sacred and profane, contrasting and playing off of each other. It’s a great showcase for the Company men throughout but particularly in the opening “Fortuna Imperatrix Mundi.” (As a side note, I noticed former Company member Timothy Lynch was lured out of retirement for this dance. Can they continue to entice this artist to perform? I hope so!)

It was great seeing Kaori Nakamura and Le Yin lead off “Primo Vere” that’s in a mode that’s different for them. Two peasants joyfully flirting in the Spring (or Summer?) sun.

It would be stating the obvious that “In Taberna” represented the profane. Ariana Lallone (...”one, hot ballerina!”) led off the crew that violates a monk, wonderfully interpreted by Oleg Gorboulev and uses and re-uses the character that I think of as the “roasted goose” (the text is a goose lamenting being cooked) in the form of Paul Gibson. Mr. Gibson really “got into” his part and gave us the sense of almost unending despair and the sad realization of the uselessness of “trying.” Never the less, his character revives itself and participates in the seduction of the monk. “Low lifes” of the 1200s at their most savage.

When Patricia Barker and Olivier Wevers came running out for the first time in “Cour d’Amours,” I heard a gentleman behind me exclaim, “My, he’s dashing!” Indeed their first pas de deux, done in regal attire made both look elegant, dashing, and at the peak of high art. Their subsequent duet in unitards was striking for its contrast and for the impression I got of tender attitude solicitous expression each character has for the other. If “Elegie” is the heart of Serenade, then I’d have to say that this movement is the heart of Stowell’s vision for Carmina. It is the expression of human, romantic love – neither sacred nor profane. I felt the entire auditorium give a collective sigh.

I happened by chance to sit two seats next to the Artistic Directors and both leapt to the feet at the end of this big, enormous, exciting work and “one, swell night” at the ballet. The audience certainly did not need any prompting to join them for much deserved and prolonged applause and bravos.

Both ballets performances of a lifetime.

<small>[ 22 April 2004, 06:18 PM: Message edited by: Dean Speer ]</small>

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Dean Speer
ballet@u.washington.edu


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 Post subject: Re: Pacific Northwest Ballet: Serenade and Carmina Burana
PostPosted: Fri Apr 16, 2004 2:36 pm 
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Dean, you certainly captured the essence of the opening night performance.

I too was touched -- and left gasping -- by Louise Nadeau's performance as the "ballerina gone to heaven," in Francis' words, in "Serenade." Just before the "ascension" finale, I drew my hands to my mouth instinctively in an uncontrolled gasp. Only later, was I able to intellectualize and fathom the depth of Nadeau's talents and the effects of Francia Russell's coaching.

Russell also informed us last night that corps member Kylee Kitchens will be dancing Dark Angel during the run. It's almost worth another trip up as I have this season begun to realize the potential of this young dancer, having been distracted by other quality dancers in the Corps, such as Mara Vinson, Rebecca Johnston, et al.

Kent Stowell's "Carmina Burana" is the most theatrical version of this ballet that I have ever experienced, combining visuals, design, engineering feat, music and, of course, dance in a way that made me sit up on the edge of my seat.

<small>[ 16 April 2004, 04:36 PM: Message edited by: Azlan ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: Pacific Northwest Ballet: Serenade and Carmina Burana
PostPosted: Sat Apr 17, 2004 8:49 pm 
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Location: Bremerton, Washington, U.S.
Regarding Timothy Lynch returning from retirement, Francia Russell said today that Timothy had remarked to someone that he didn't know if he was going to attend the performance of Carmina Burana because it would only make him wish that he was in it. A couple of days later, he was asked if he would be willing to come back from retirement and perform in it again. It seems that one of the company's male dancers became very ill and the domino effect created a shortage of male dancers, so Timothy's wish came true. It was good to see him on the stage again.

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 Post subject: Re: Pacific Northwest Ballet: Serenade and Carmina Burana
PostPosted: Sun Apr 18, 2004 8:48 pm 
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Wow!

I'm still stunned, even after my flight back home that has left me a little fuzzy brained and a bit jetlagged.

Saturday (4/17) nights performance was something else to behold, especially "Serenade". I'm not sure there is much more I can offer in terms of a "review" beyond the excellent job Dean did earlier in this thread, but I’ll try and offer my nickels worth of thoughts anyway.

I must note that I don't live in Seattle and while I'm familiar with the company, I don't know each and every dancer by name or face, as I only manage to get up to see the company two or three times a year, so I apologize in advance if I am not as deep in my knowledge of them as many who review them here are.

"Serenade":

Serenade is a piece that I've seen performed rather poorly, and also extremely well. It took the latter to show me what Balanchines choreography could really do; I wasn't a Balanchine fan until I saw this piece "done right". "Done right", to me, implies that the corps are tight, technically proficient, and very well coached. If there's any piece that I've seen that has fairly stringent requirements on the excellence of the corps dancers, Serenade has got to be that one. And of course this plays into PNB’s hand as a company, as I've always thought one of the strengths of PNB was the immense depth of their corps. Add to this Francia Russell’s expert staging, and this piece was everything it should be.

Besides the corps, standouts were Carrie Imler (nice to see her dancing again as I missed her when I visited Seattle last fall) and Melanie Skinner, Jeff Stanton, and of course, the incomparable Louise Nadeau.

The opening movements were pleasant, the costumes gorgeous as usual, but for the me this piece grows stronger as it progresses. Each series within each movement seems to build upon the prior, culminating in what for me was the defining highlight of this weekends performance: the staggering, breathtaking final movement. Simply put, Louise Nadeau, to use a baseball analogy, knocked this one clearly out of the ballpark. Out of the neighborhood, county and over the state line as well for that matter. Like others who have reviewed this piece before me in this forum, I think I noticed my allergies suddenly increasing during that last movement as I wiped my eyes more than once. Truly impressive.

I struggle trying to define exactly what it is that I see in Louise, being neither a choreographer or a dancer myself. She's astonishingly quick, but always precise, yet gentle in that precision. More than that, she innately understands the "feel" of the beat. I don't know how to describe this beat/feel concept other than to point to a discussion some of the old Motown drummers had in the movie "Standing in the shadows of Motown", where they discuss how the same time signature sounds different dependent upon where each of the Motown session drummers placed emphasis on certain beats. They each were "on time", but yet different in how they approached being "on time". Louise just "knows" where to place things in time, and that is one of the things that endears me to her dancing so much. But that's not the whole picture. She's got that amazing quickness, but yet, in a fraction of the moment, can morph from quick/precise to elongated/elegant - almost like she changes body type at the precise moment needed by the work at hand. In this hazily defined ability (that I'm not sure I can express verbally) she's the best I've ever seen. Add to these traits a staggering amount of artistry -- I've seen many expressive dancers, but with Louise it seems that her artistic expression emanates from her DNA as opposed to something being worn or placed on her physical frame. Again, words fail me. Bottom line: I could watch this woman dance until the sun burnt out and the universe collapsed.

"Carmina Burana"

Carmina Burana poses an interesting quandary for a "reviewer". Does one look at the piece as a whole, and by this I mean, as an "experience", or does one look at it strictly as a ballet. The addition of a massive choir and a fantastic set gives Carmina Burana more of a "show" feeling than strictly a ballet at times. So I think it has to be evaluated through both views in some manner.

From an "experience" viewpoint, Carmina Burana is a sure-fire audience pleasing show stopper. Almost constant frenetic movement, layer after layer of dancers on stage, the huge "wheel of fortune", the choir, the vocal soloists wandering on stage, the massive orchestral arrangements all make this a spectacle that needs to be seen/felt/heard in real life. And from this viewpoint I think Carmina Burana succeeds. The audience gasped when the curtain was raised, and the movement kept the audiences attention til the very end, bringing a rousing standing ovation from the house.

From a "ballet" viewpoint, I might be a little more critical. Personally, I found the opening series very modern like, something I've not really seen in my admittedly limited viewing of Kent’s choreography, and I enjoyed the first movement quite a bit. The men were showcased here and once again the depth of PNB’s dancers was a strength. Of the ladies, as seemingly always happens when I see PNB dance, a corps member I really haven't "noticed" before comes out, and in this case it was Leslie Rausch who fit well with the excellent Mara Vinson and Melanie Skinner.

The peasant section which I suppose is the "Primo Vere" section was an area where I was of two minds. First, Noelani Pantastico was featured with Jeff Stanton. Noelani is to me one of the future stars of PNB, already clearly on her way as a brilliant, expressive, joyous dancer who I can watch for days. She’s easily a favorite of mine. So just by the virtue of her being cast in this part, I "had" to like it. I can't get enough of watching her dance. The problem, though, was I thought this whole section didn't stand out so strongly in terms of choreography for me as compared to other sections, and maybe went on a little too long for my taste. So factoring out getting to watch one of my favorites (who danced brilliantly, as always), I'm not so sure this section wasn't perhaps a bit weaker than I would have liked, but not at the fault of the dancers.

Things heated up next when Ariana Lallone strutted onto the stage in the "In Taberna" section. I don't think much more needs to be said; others have pointed out the heat generated here quite well! Very fun. Okay, I admit it, she looked good in red too.

Moving on: For me, the strongest parts of Carmina were the last two movements; first the wonderful and often extended pas with Patricia Barker and Olivier Wevers. My favorite moments were the "quieter" moments, especially when the wonderful soprano soloist sang. Barkers gorgeous upper body phrasing showed her immense talents: I just sat and stared. I haven't gotten a lot of chances to see her dance in my prior visits, but as last time, I "understand" now. She was impressive, and a lot of this section was my favorite of the piece as a whole.

I also really liked the ending when the entire cast is brought upon the stage… I still can’t fathom how Kent got everyone to look so good together. Choreographing THAT many people has got to be difficult, but it worked and brought the piece to a nice finish.

I wish I could name some of the standouts in the corps here, because there were at least four or five that caught my eye, but I'd have to see this piece a lot more (as well as the company as a whole a lot more) in order to do so. But as mentioned, Barker, Pantastico, Lallone and those fantastically talented men all shined.

Overall, a solid wonderful performance and a worthwhile trip up to Seattle for me. That last movement of Serenade particularly will stay with me for a long, long time.


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 Post subject: Re: Pacific Northwest Ballet: Serenade and Carmina Burana
PostPosted: Wed Apr 21, 2004 2:14 pm 
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Seattle press reviews of Serenade/Carmina Burana.

Philippa Kiraly in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer:

http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/classical/169448_pnb17q.html

Brangien Davis in the Seattle Times:

http://archives.seattletimes.nwsource.com/cgi-bin/texis.cgi/web/vortex/display?slug=pnb17&date=20040417

Carole Beers in the King County Journal:

http://www.kingcountyjournal.com/sited/story/html/161528


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