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 Post subject: Pacific Northwest Ballet: Tribute to Stowell & Russell
PostPosted: Tue Mar 15, 2005 4:05 pm 
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Pacific Northwest Ballet will hold a Tribute to Kent Stowell and Francia Russell on Sunday, June 12, 2005 at 6:00 p.m. in McCaw Hall in Seattle. A link to the press release:

http://www.pnb.org/press/releases/2005tribute.pdf


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PostPosted: Tue May 31, 2005 12:05 pm 
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Elizabeth Gillespie writes a tribute to Kent and Francia for the Associated Press:

AP story


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PostPosted: Tue May 31, 2005 4:38 pm 
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Carole Beers interviews Kent and Francia in the King County Journal:

King County Journal


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 10, 2005 10:13 am 
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Both of the Seattle dailies have major tributes to Kent and Francia in today's editions.

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

Seattle P-I

Mary Murfin Bayley in the Seattle Times:

Seattle Times


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 13, 2005 12:47 pm 
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Bittersweet. The dancing and atmosphere were just electric and among the audience were a cast of who's who from the international ballet, performing arts, civic and media communities. But I found it difficult to keep my eyes dry at the end, especially when the dancers were so obviously emotionally charged and drained on stage. Touching. Very much so.

We toasted and saluted Stowell and Russell in the Grand Lobby afterwards. In an act of class, Russell directed the community to support incoming AD Peter Boal.


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 13, 2005 5:31 pm 
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I have to echo Azlan's comments, too, except my eyes stopped being dry near the end of Theme and Variations, because it was such stupendous, grand dancing, reminding me of the that first flush of what hooked some of us on ballet in the first place. The gala was put together through the combined efforts of the whole company and crew (except for Kent Stowell and Francia Russell who were banished from the studios to keep the programming a surprise for them) who surely must have worked long hours outside of their normal jobs to pull this show together.

Built as a tribute to some of the outgoing ADs' works and labors over the years, the show alternated between a Stowell work and excerpts of Balanchine works that had some significance to Russell. Here's the program:

Overture from Silver Lining
Serenade 1st movement with Kaori Nakamura, and students of PNB School's professional division
Stowell's Pas De Deux Campagnolo with Jodie Thomas and Casey Herd
Agon, 1st pas de trois, with Maria Chapman, Jonathan Porretta, and Mara Vinson.
Stowell's Nutcracker with Louis Nadeau and Olivier Wevers and the PNB corps dancing the Snow pas de deux and the Waltz of the Snowflakes
Theme and Variations's pas de deux and polonaise with Carrie Imler, Batkhurel Bold, and the PNB corps
Stowell's Dual Lish with Noelani Pantastico and Jonathan Porretta, and pianists Dianne Chilgren and Allan Dameron
Liebeslieder Walzer excerpts from part one with Patricia Barker, Ariana Lallone, Louise Nadeau, Kaori Nakamura, Christophe Maravel, Stanko Milov, Jeffrey Stanton, and Olivier Wevers (specially acquired for this tribute)
The Stowell sons' Piece D'occasion, with Smetana's Bartered Bride overture as music, and danced by Jodie Thomas, Mara Vinson, Casey Herd, Nicholas Ade, the PNB corps, and very young students of the PNB school.
Stowell's Daphnis and Chloe pas de deux with Patricia Barker and Jeffrey Stanton

The last two pieces were salutes to the ADs with the company, crew, and students of the school coming on stage to say goodbye to Stowell and Russell. Music was from Bizet and Stravinsky's Firebird. In between pieces were video excerpts of interviews and tributes to Stowell and Russell from friends and colleages, along with pictures of memorable events from their past.

For me, the tribute was less about the pieces danced than the company that stages and dances them. Stowell and Russell's legacy is a magnificent company with an incomparable corps that is head and shoulders above any other American company's in terms of technique, commitment, unity, and especially style, along with diverse soloists and principals who manage to stand out as individuals while still reflecting the unifying style and training that forms them into a company. The PNB school's students in Serenade were even more gratifying as it appears that the school regularly turns out more of such dancers.

For a company that dances like it was bred to perform Balanchine, it should be no surprise that part of the PNB legacy is an excellent orchestra that is by far the best ballet orchestra I've heard, and would put many regional orchestras to shame. Music director Stuart Kershaw, and Allan Dameron conducted.

Well-done to the outgoing ADs, and I can only hope that the next generation of this company's caretakers can preserve this company's singular and important legacy.

--Andre


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 14, 2005 9:15 am 
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Seattle press reviews of the Tribute to Kent and Francia.

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

Seattle P-I review

Mary Murfin Bayley in the Seattle Times:

Seattle Times review

Note: the exquisite photograph is of Patricia Barker and Christophe Maraval in "Liebeslieder Walzer."


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 14, 2005 4:00 pm 
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It was a really special performance. I felt honored to be there. It was so much more than your typical gala. It was like looking through a keyhole and seeing the special relationships that dancers have with their directors, teachers and each other. I love that it was a happy retirement and that the passing of the torch was so gracious. The dancing was at an all time high.

I have a few favorites that I have to mention. Patricia Barker, so elegant yet again, Louse Nadeau and Olivier Weavers, Johnathan Porretta (just gets better and faster each time I see him) and Noelani Pantastico.
Bravo!!
Can't wait for next season.


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 17, 2005 4:16 pm 
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Karen Ducey talks to Noelani Pantastico about how the transition from one artistic administration to another feels, in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer:

Noelani Pantastico


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 21, 2005 3:54 pm 
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Location: Seattle, WA. USA
Balletic Force Majeur
Pacific Northwest Ballet’s Tribute to Kent Stowell and Francia Russell
Sunday, 12 June, 6:00 p.m.
McCaw Opera House, Seattle, Washington

by Dean Speer

What a great way to go out – with one fabulous, first-class tribute. Personally, I will never, ever forget and will always be grateful for how well Mr. Stowell and Ms. Russell treated ALL of their colleagues. This atmosphere of positive collegiality came from the top down and permeated all of their dealings with their teams of teachers, production crew, staff, artistic staff, dancers, volunteers, donors, subscribers, and their respective dance colleagues and they included in that area dance teachers.

I was so impressed when, as the novice director of a new ballet school in a rural and fairly remote region, I nervously called PNB to ask how to construct the steel portable ballet barres that I had seen and used myself in their studios. The head technician, Randall Chiarelli, actually took my call himself and walked me, step-by-step, through the steps of making barres – from ordering the steel and fittings to rubbing them down and finishing them with the right kind of paint (“Rustolium”). Later during one of the Teachers’ Seminars, then held at their original location at the Good Shepard Studios, Denise Bolstad (who is now the Administrative Director of the School and was then the “front line” Registrar) generously met with our registrar and coached her on many of the best practices that PNB used at the time.

After our school and its performing company were established, guest dancers from PNB would appear on at least one of our programs each year. This was wonderful for the students and their families, our dancers and staff, as well as the public. Francia herself would coach them (and others too sometimes) and twice we got a Balanchine excerpt; two pas de deux. I know how thrilled I was to get this in a county whose entire population totaled not more than 66,000 souls. (We happened to be the only ballet school in the entire county; this is still true today as it was in 1981 when I first started teaching there.) We were pleased that our programs then were done to live (piano for the most part) music and being able to provide this not only for our students, company, and audiences but also for our guests. It was very special having these glamorous role models in our midst; they even participated in warm-up class with us on stage with the advanced students and company members. No aloof dancers, these. Everyone was most impressed by that!

And at the Teachers’ Seminars each and every teacher who attended was made to feel welcome and appreciated. So many other little, but important things, come to mind such as Francia remembering everyone’s name and how during one pre-performance talk she mentioned that it was my father’s birthday that day, recognizing him. He was pleased as punch and just glowing.

So it was with this background and personal affection for how they treated people and their enormous artistic contributions that I came to PNB’s Tribute for the couple that truly has been a force majeur in Northwest and national ballet.

The Tribute was an emotional and thrilling roller coaster ride. Very, very well done, the excerpts shown were a complete surprise to the honoring couple until they actually saw them. (They were not even allowed to look at a program.) The exception to this was the announced Liebeslieder Walzer which was a gift from their three sons. Kent and Francia have said publically that this is one of their favorite Balanchine ballets. It was certainly a major treat for Seattle audiences to get a glimpse of this important and very expressive work. Perfectly cast and staged by Karin von Aroldingen, the eight (by my feeble count) brief sections – four pas de deux twice – were given lovely and mature performances by some of PNB’s best: Patricia Barker; Ariana Lallone; Louise Nadeau; Kaori Nakamura; Christophe Maraval; Stanko Milov; Jeffrey Stanton; and Olivier Wevers. With the performance given, Liebeslieder has zapped itself onto my Christmas wish-list. I like to imagine that Mr. Boal will be a very generous Santa one season in the not-too-distant future. (And, yes, I believe our Seattle audiences are better than those in New York; we would NOT walk out during the pause between opus 59 and opus 65!)

I would be remiss to leave out any mention of a ballet that’s clearly very significant to Francia Russell’s career and of which she was an original cast member – Agon. The first pas de trois was given a marvelously edgy performance by Maria Chapman, Jonathan Porretta, and Mara Vinson.

And I really cannot object to Snow in June! Louise Nadeau and Olivier Wevers were the duet couple in this excerpted scene from Stowell’s well-known version with the Sendak sets and costumes. It was nice to get the whole Snow scene which included the sets and falling snow. As much as dancers love Nutcracker, Nadeau and Wevers made it seem fresh, limpid, and magical. I believe this is one of the unstated strengths of each of the artists at PNB – that each performance seems as if they are doing it for the first time. That’s it’s not at all rote and no one is “phoning in” their performance. They have captured the essence of creating and re-creating parts. Somewhat how actors must infuse life into lines they speak and act eight shows a week. It demonstrates respect for their art, for the choreographers, and importantly for the audiences who are treated to these renditions.

In the moment and beyond were two of PNB’s newest stars – Noelani Pantastico and Jonathan Porretta in the latest dance Stowell has made, Dual Lish to piano “rags” of William Bolcom.

Other highlights for me included the pas de deux and Polonaise from Theme and Variations, and Mr. Stowell’s pas de deux from his full-length Daphnis and Chloe, a work that I didn’t get to see when it premiered. When those tympani begin to thunder at the start of the Polonaise and the brass join them, it’s really goosebumps time at the ballet. Tchaikovsky at his best and Balanchine at his most inspired.

With a pairing that I perhaps would not have thought of at first blush, Carrie Imler and Batkhurel Bold were paired well for Theme and it worked very nicely indeed. Each is a powerhouse and the two of them together generate enough electricity to light up a small town. Bold is an excellent partner and I enjoyed seeing him dance with Imler. Perhaps they will be matched again in future ballets; let’s hope! The entire corps was tight and “on.” I think we probably do one of the best renderings of this famous ballet anywhere.

The Pièce d’Occasion – choreographed by Stowell fils, Christopher – was a fun romp that used costumes from many of the ballets Stowell père had made over throughout his tenure. It was fun trying to “name that tune” with them.

How fitting that Patricia Barker and Jeffrey Stanton were chosen to conclude the danced portion of the Tribute with the duet from Daphnis and Chloe. Fitting in that each is an equal among equals, are artists who can do anything and are matched often in castings. Also fitting that the ballerina with whom Kent has worked the longest at PNB was doing a role created for a ballerina who was his muse during PNB’s earliest years: Deborah Hadley, also a simply amazing dancer. I liked the pas de deux very much and found myself longing to see it someday in the context of the entire ballet. Perhaps Mr. Boal will commission a revival of this work that was important to the early growth of the Company.

Each and every dancer was fabulous and dancing their hearts out. The Company is at a very high level and the immense artistic resources, depth and soul were at the center of each work.

Tributes were given by notable dancers and artistic staff and others in loving video clips.

For the finale (set to the finale from Firebird), the couple themselves were brought up on stage and the audience stood and roared its approval and love for a long while. Smiles and tears were freely much in evidence.

Audience members were able to salute Kent and Francia via a toast following the show.

Thank you, Kent and Francia for all that you’ve done. It’s shown in every inch of what’s been presented on stage and by the effects your work and attitude have done throughout the dance scene in the greater Northwest.

_________________
Dean Speer
ballet@u.washington.edu


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