Three Big Ones – Singular Art
Wheeldon, Duato & Balanchine
Pacific Northwest Ballet
Saturday, 17 March 2007 Matinee
by Dean Speer
It was a bringing together of an unlikely triptych but one that worked well and which built an exciting afternoon of dance.
Christopher Wheeldon’s “”Polyphonia” showed off the company men very well, while the Haitian-flavored “Rassemblement” did the same for the women. If Balanchine’s slogan was “ballet is woman,” his made-for Alexandra Danilova piece “La Sonnambula” is also an ensemble work, requiring the cast to frame and help carry forward the action which centers around the dancing and dramatic talents of the women portraying “The Sleepwalker” and the jealous “Coquette.”
Premiered at New York City Ballet in 2001, “Polyphonia” has a clear design and was cleanly executed. I found myself thinking that this was really a good piece and that I was enjoying it. Ligeti’s music is one of his more “accessible” efforts, perhaps because Wheeldon selected from among a variety of the composer’s works over a long timespan.
Eleven years younger but decidely contemporary in look was the second offering, Nacho Duato’s “Rassemblement,” first done by PNB in 1998. Replete with Haitian Voodoo themes, this powerful work pulls from a modern dance vocabulary and is was nice to see again. Carla Körbes, in one of the central female roles, really got into her character, and was so “into it” that even during the bows, it was clear to me that she was still coming back to present day Seattle. One of the most captivating performances I’ve recently enjoyed.
“La Sonnambula” is quite the showcase. Outstanding in the “Divertissements” were Maria Chapman and Karel Cruz in the Pas de deux; Jonathan Porretta as ‘Harlequin;’ and “Pastorale” pas de quatre with Rebecca Johnston, Kara Zimmerman and their partners Barry Kerollis and Anton Pankevitch.
Louise Nadeau had the right amount of frailty – you get the sense that this gal is mentally unbalanced, as indeed is borne out in Bellini’s opera, “Norma,” which came to mind as Nadeau bourrées around unconscious of her immediate surroundings in her a nighty that’s the same as Norma’s – but not blood-soaked. Yet in a twist of plot, ‘The Poet’ is stabbed not by ‘The Sleepwalker’ but by the jealous ‘Baron’ whom it seems has not taken kindly to extending his own double-standard behavior to his wife (she’s innocent – the eponymous ‘Coquette’ is not). Le Yin was neat, ardently playful as the ‘Poet’ who unsuccessfully tries to get the sleepwalker’s attention while Noelani Panstastico got to sharpen her claws in the part of the Coquette.