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 Post subject: Pacific Northwest Ballet: Contemporary Classics (Nov. 2007)
PostPosted: Tue Oct 23, 2007 1:13 pm 
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Location: Seattle, WA, USA
Pacific Northwest Ballet's November mixed repertory program opens on Thursday, November 1 at 7:30 p.m. at McCaw Hall in Seattle. This program, subtitled "Contemporary Classics," includes "Agon" (Balanchine/Stravinsky), "Kiss" (Susan Marshall/Arvo Part); "Caught" (David Parsons/Robert Fripp); and "In the Upper Room" (Twyla Tharp/Philip Glass).

Here is a link to the information page on the PNB website:

Contemporary Classics

Casting is now available:

Contemporary Classics Casting


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 26, 2007 10:34 am 
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R. M. Campbell's program preview is a wonderful feature on Ariana Lallone:

Seattle P-I


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 29, 2007 3:38 pm 
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In the Seattle Times, Michael Upchurch focuses on David Parsons' "Caught" in he preview of the Contemporary Classics program:

Seattle Times

Plus a sidebar interview with Artistic Director Peter Boal on the acquisition of "Caught."

Peter Boal sidebar


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 05, 2007 10:47 am 
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Seattle press reviews of the Thursday, November 1, 2007 opening performance.

R. M. Campbell in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer:

Seattle P-I

Moira Macdonald in the Seattle Times:

Seattle Times


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 07, 2007 12:02 pm 
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Alastair Macauley was in Seattle for performances on Thursday and Friday, November 1 and 2. His review in the New York Times:

NY Times


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 07, 2007 4:35 pm 
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Sandra Kurtz also reviews casts from Thursday, November 1 and Friday, November 2 in The Seattle Weekly:

Seattle Weekly


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 16, 2007 4:48 pm 
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Location: Seattle, WA. USA
When Push Comes to Shove
Pacific Northwest Ballet’s “Contemporary Classics” Program
Saturday, 3 November 2007, McCaw Hall
Seattle, Washington

by Dean Speer

When I first saw any work by Twyla Tharp, it was on a PBS television special – and I was so smitten, that very night I dreamt I auditioned for her company. She had me do rélevé turns à la seconde and the Tharpian part was that at the same time I had to pull apart string cheese – like Saltwater Taffy. It all seemed logical – and plausible at the time.

Pacific Northwest Ballet’s “Contemporary Classics” program, 1-11 November concluded with their third acquisitioned Tharp piece, “In the Upper Room.”

I wish I could say that I was as smitten this time. I may have to turn in my membership card in the Northwest Dance Critics Association, and probably PNB will set off its AH-OOO-GAH horns, roll down the metal grill gates, and have their beefy security guard come out the front door, put his feet in second position with his arms folded purposefully across his chest when they see me coming in the future. Never the less: “In the Upper Room” is, choreographically, an idea that plays itself out before the dance does. Tharp says what she has to say early on – and then keeps on saying it, albeit in slightly different iterations.

Admittedly, there is a lot to admire: Many big movement motifs; her clear knowledge and use of compositional tools. Yet the piece becomes static.

Historically, if audience members and dance writers fell in love with a certain dancer’s elbow or ankle, then I have to be permitted to review Miranda Weese’s knees. When she was being lowered down for the first time from one of the many lifts, I couldn’t help but notice the suppleness of her knee as she pushed into plié. Tharp’s nod to balletic hierarchy really did show her off. You could tell that she relished the strong movement and graced each phrase with the right amount of punch. Weese is an important artistic addition to PNB’s roster of principal dancers.

The audience LOVED this piece and, as I said earlier, certainly there was a lot there to like, but for me this was found primarily in the dancing itself – committed and honest dancing by every cast member, who bring ardor to each of the nine sections. Our ballet audiences have good taste, so I believe this is one of the things they were recognizing and honoring. And if I were a dancer in it, I’d probably enjoy it too. However, it’s one of those pieces I think that ends up being slightly more fun to do than to watch. The old “Ballet Review” used to divide choreographic merit from dancing, grading each. So with that system in mind, let’s rate the choreography C+ and the dancing A.

Catching Caught

“Caught” was an idea that was just the right length. After an initial opening that seemed relatively conventional but interesting, this piece takes off – literally – with the solo dancer seeming to float his way through traversing the stage. About 70- 80 jumps with the use of Strobe lights, he is captured at the height of each jump. Good humor, visual logic. And when he seems to drop down onto the stage from the rafters, no one can contain their cheers.

The cast dancers have said in previews that they are sworn to secrecy as to exactly how this magic is worked, but it’s revealed if you look carefully at the cover of Encore magazine’s multiple sequence images of Olivier Wevers rehearsing in a studio. I won’t let the trick out, but run to the program cover and look for yourself.

Olivier Wevers captured the essence of the work – its humor, good nature, sense of play and fun, its kinetic liveliness and how it builds to a satisfying conclusion.

Embrassez-moi

“Kiss” was Susan Marshall’s contribution to the proceedings. Aerial by means of 40-foot ropes attached to the stage flies, “Kiss” is a piece that grows on one. It’s subtle in how it builds to its impassioned end as the couple – James Moore and Mara Vinson – finally embrace and spin off to romantic heaven as the curtain comes down.

No Contest

Opening the program was “Agon,” which celebrates its 50th birthday this year. PNB is very fortunate to be able to have had original cast member, Francia Russell, stage this gem, which includes a revision to a solo done on her in 1960 by Mr. Balanchine.

“Agon” was a ‘dangerous’ ballet in 1957 – and still is. Reactions from my own circle ranged from “Probably nobody does it better” to one of my former ballet teachers sniffing, “I don’t like that stuff!” I have to agree that PNB gave it a fabulous reading – kudos to the entire cast and prep team, particularly Louise Nadeau and Olivier Wevers in the legendary Pas de Deux, and to Sarabanding Benjamin Griffiths in the First Pas de Trois.

When push came to shove, Artistic Director Peter Boal deserves mention for his bravery in putting on ballets new to PNB’s loyal audiences, that challenged us (and me!), that gave the dancers artistic ‘fun’ growth, and which shows that ballet and dance are many things – with a varied and rich tradition and how this tradition remains contemporary.

_________________
Dean Speer
ballet@u.washington.edu


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 Post subject: Varying Views
PostPosted: Wed Nov 21, 2007 11:36 am 
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Apparently I'm taking some heat for the first version of my review, which is okay. I have to report that I just struggled to push out this piece for over a week and a half.

It's great that art(s) can engender controversy and lively discourse.

In looking at again at the review, the topic that I raised was more of a philosophical one rather than a substantive one, so I've redacted those comments.

The topic is a complicated one, and one that will probably never be fully resolved to the satisfaction of everyone. Hopefully, we'll be able to discuss and explore it more fully in an appropriate, future Forum thread.

Should they wish, I would invite anyone who did read the first version to privately e-mail me (see buttons below) their views and concerns.

_________________
Dean Speer
ballet@u.washington.edu


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