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Pacific Northwest Ballet: Don Quixote (February 2012)
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Author:  Francis Timlin [ Wed Dec 28, 2011 1:31 pm ]
Post subject:  Pacific Northwest Ballet: Don Quixote (February 2012)

Pacific Northwest Ballet presents Alexei Ratmansky's "Don Quixote," February 3-12, 2012 at McCaw Hall in Seattle. Here is a link to the program information on the PNB website.

Don Quixote

Author:  Dean Speer [ Wed Dec 28, 2011 3:29 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Pacific Northwest Ballet: Don Quixote (February 2012)

Jousting At It – Observation of a Rehearsal
Alexei Ratmansky at Pacific Northwest Ballet, Thursday, 15 December 2011

by Dean Speer

Alexei Ratmansky’s Pacific Northwest Ballet staging and production of the Petipa classic ballet, “Don Quixote,” opens in early February 2012 and we were invited to observe one of his rehearsals while he spent a week in Seattle coaching and putting the dancers through their paces.

I believe we were lucky in that the first wave of writers, donors, and others had just finished their round of observation and we were the only ones who got to watch – from the relative safety of the mezzanine balcony – Ratmansky work with and coach three different couples in excerpted segments mostly from Act I. In the room assisting and learning were Artistic Director Peter Boal, faculty member Elaine Bauer with principal dancers Kaori Nakamura and her dance partner Lucien Postlewaite, Carrie Imler, and Carla Körbes.

While there is some sobriety to it – the Don, after all, is mistreated, poorly guided, and in some versions is on his deathbed – this ballet is high-voltage energy throughout, especially the first and last acts.

It was fun and interesting watch the choreographer work out the details and fine-tune the timings and “options” that the dancers are given. Each dancer was very focused and dancing full-out for each run of a segment – Ratmansky was also very focused but also taking pauses to ask questions, exploring, encouraging and coaching along the way. Soft-spoken, he seems to be everywhere at once – cuing the accompanist, confirming dance text with the boss and dancers and listening to and fielding questions. This focus on the work itself shifts the attention away from personality, giving the working atmosphere a sense of being relaxed yet driven to the pursuit of excellence.

While giving some choices, he was also very specific about counting, how certain port de bras and épaulement should go in relation to the footwork. This is a ballet about bravura in the largest sense – every dance an opportunity to show off.

Nakamura and Postlewaite were impressive and exciting as they ran through the requested segments, as was Imler in the couple of times she did the “big” waltzes with the fan – all the way down to the floor and reaching all the way up to the sky.

On a quick five-minute break, Ratmansky said “hello” to his colleague, Olivier Wevers, newly-retired principal dancer and Artistic Director and choreographer of his venture, Whim W’him. I believe they were dancers in the Royal Winnipeg Ballet at the same time and it was nice to see his warmth and genuine friendliness.

Being a ballet fan fly on the wall was a great way to spend a couple of hours – away from the overcast December Seattle skies, coming away inspired and very much looking forward to seeing the finished product onstage in 2012.

Author:  Francis Timlin [ Mon Jan 30, 2012 12:48 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Pacific Northwest Ballet: Don Quixote (February 2012)

Casting is now available on the PNB website.


Author:  Francis Timlin [ Mon Jan 30, 2012 1:06 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Pacific Northwest Ballet: Don Quixote (February 2012)

Alice Kaderlan previews "Don Quixote" for Crosscut.


In the Seattle Times, Moira Macdonald talks to actor Tom Skerritt, who will portray the title character in "Don Quixote."

Seattle Times

Author:  Francis Timlin [ Mon Jan 30, 2012 2:56 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Pacific Northwest Ballet: Don Quixote (February 2012)

Philippa Kiraly previews "Don Quixote" for the Sun Break[/url]

Sun Break

Author:  Francis Timlin [ Thu Feb 02, 2012 2:39 pm ]
Post subject: 

Steven Mesler previews "Don Quixote" for the Huffington Post.

Huffington Post

Author:  Francis Timlin [ Sun Feb 05, 2012 8:01 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Pacific Northwest Ballet: Don Quixote (February 2012)

Jackson Holtz reviews the Saturday evening, February 4, 2012 performance of "Don Quixote" with Carrie Imler and Batkhurel Bold in the lead roles for the Everett Herald.

Everett Herald

Author:  Dean Speer [ Mon Feb 06, 2012 2:59 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Pacific Northwest Ballet: Don Quixote (February 2012)

Fanning the Flames
Pacific Northwest Ballet’s “Don Quixote”
Opening Night, Friday 3 February 2012

by Dean Speer

Wow! Wow! Wow! Pacific Northwest Ballet unleashed firepower with its performance of “Don Quixote,” the North American debut of Alexei Ratmansky's version of the Petipa/Gorsky classic with sets and costumes from the Dutch National Ballet’s production this past weekend at Seattle’s McCaw Hall.

It was also a triumph for Carla Körbes as Kitri and her partner Karel Cruz as Basilio – particularly for Körbes since one of the last times she was slated to carry a major North American ballet debut [“Roméo et Juliette”], she was sidelined.

They nailed all of the numerous technical demands such one-handed overhead lifts, a fish-dive pose where Cruz balances her with no hands, only the pressure of his arms holding her in this precarious place, her nose mere inches from the stage floor and all of the adagio balances, turns, and jumps. For those who are interested in the fouetté count from the concluding duet, we counted 28 including many doubles – all the while opening and closing a big red fan – at the conclusion of which, the audience roared its approval and pleasure.

This is a top-drawer production from start to finish, exciting, fun and filled with good humor and enough hint of the somber to give its story some muscle traction and zest.

This represents three acts and six scenes of dancing and acting for the two leads and for the entire company, some of whom had as many as four costume changes due to its large scale – and the fact that it was originally made on a European company of 80 dancers compared with PNB’s current 46 [some corps parts were taken by students from its Professional Division]. The physical properties – sets and costumes – were shipped to Seattle last Summer from Amsterdam via the Panama Canal at a cost of one million dollars. Additional personnel were also shipped over, such as a wig master and three stagers.

Anyone who’s learned or performed the famous Act III pas de deux from the wedding scene knows first-hand just how challenging it can be – now multiply this to equal all the scenes in which the principal characters appear and you get the idea of how grand and demanding, for technique and for stamina, this energetic and peppy ballet is. The level of energy is enough to light up a small town.

Some of my favorite bits are where the townsmen toss Sancho Panza into the air – punctuated by the mid-air “reaction” of actor Allen Galli, whose gift for physical comedy is superb – and where he and the Don interact including riding their respective steeds [a stubborn donkey and a horse] to go do battle with windmills on their quest for adventure.

Artistic Director Peter Boal scored a coup in booking actors Tom Skerritt as the Don and Allen Galli as Sancho Panza. The opening night audience welcomingly applauded both of their entrances, as they did Körbes and Cruz in Act I.

Speaking of physical comedy, what more can be said about Jonathan Porretta’s wickedly funny turn as the fop, Gamache – the rich character who thinks he wants to marry Kitri? His added touches included pressing his face to the glass window of his carried [and sometimes, being dropped and dumped out of] litter were hilarious, as were his character’s displays of bravado – but only in safe circumstances.

Choreographer Alexei Ratmansky greatly expanded the usual two or three minutes of prologue into 15, giving an insight to the Don’s motivation and state of mind and introducing his loyal squire, Sancho Panza. I enjoyed how the Don’s bookcases haunted him by floating in and out and how his vision of Dulcinea is introduced by having her appear, veiled and looking for all the underworld, like Giselle.

Act II’s vision scene introduced a ballet blanc – the women in white tutus making steps, poses, and movement sequences typical of the best of Pepita, the original choreographer. This is a showcase not only for the tight corps de ballet but also for Rachel Foster as Cupid and the Queen of the Dryads, Sarah Ricard Orza, with a principal variation done by the dancer who plays Kitri, but seen here as part of the Don’s vision. PNB School children filled out the, literally, smaller corps with nice balonnés sautés, skips, and kneeling poses.

The set for this scene was striking in its uniqueness – an overhang of hundreds of ribbons giving the stage a grotto appearance and a sense of, to me, Art Deco. Everyone loved it.

Foster’s speed and control as the spritely Cupid were impressive and exhilarating – a solo which combined and contrasted this speed with sudden “freezes” into a pose or balance. As the Queen of the Dryads, Orza’s freshness and elegance of line and control have rarely been more evident.

The Mercedes of Maria Chapman and her toreador, Espada – Batkhurel Bold were big, fiery and sharp, sharp, sharp and well paired. Chapman has elevation to rival that of the men and her initial saut de chat á la seconde that introduces her first variation was so high and flat in second as to take one’s breath away. Bold has strength and presence to spare and it was clear he was enjoying himself throughout the evening – a pleasure for the audience to enjoy.

Music Director and Conductor Emil de Cou lead the mighty PNB Orchestra through the bouncy mostly Minkus score with a sensitive eye and ear, supporting the dancers and moving the music forward.

Blessed with a happy ending – which we all need and appreciate in these times, “Don Quixote” was the right mid-Winter elixir of sunshine, shadow, and elevated dancing and values that had and has me and my mates inspired and all declaring we each wanted “ be in it!” When this is true, you know you have a genuine hit on your hands.

Author:  Francis Timlin [ Tue Feb 07, 2012 1:18 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Pacific Northwest Ballet: Don Quixote (February 2012)

Moira Macdonald reviews the Friday, February 3, 2012 performance of "Don Quixote" for the Seattle Times.

Seattle Times

Claudia La Rocco reviews "Don Quixote" for the New York Times.

NY Times

Author:  Francis Timlin [ Tue Feb 07, 2012 10:19 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Pacific Northwest Ballet: Don Quixote (February 2012)

Sandra Kurtz reviews "Don Quixote" for the Seattle Weekly.

Seattle Weekly

Author:  Francis Timlin [ Wed Feb 08, 2012 1:23 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Pacific Northwest Ballet: Don Quixote (February 2012)

Michael van Baker reviews "Don Quixote" for the Sun Break.

Sun Break

Author:  Francis Timlin [ Wed Feb 08, 2012 1:32 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Pacific Northwest Ballet: Don Quixote (February 2012)

Alice Kaderlan reviews "Don Quixote" for Crosscut.


Author:  Francis Timlin [ Thu Feb 09, 2012 2:31 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Pacific Northwest Ballet: Don Quixote (February 2012)

Kristen Legg reviews "Don Quixote" for Seattle Dances.

Seattle Dances

Author:  Francis Timlin [ Mon Feb 13, 2012 2:02 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Pacific Northwest Ballet: Don Quixote (February 2012)

A feature on Allen Galli, who portrays Sancho Panza in "Don Quixote," by Keri De Tore for the West Seattle Blog.

West Seattle Blog

Author:  Dean Speer [ Thu Feb 16, 2012 1:07 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Pacific Northwest Ballet: Don Quixote (February 2012)

The Don, bis
Pacific Northwest Ballet’s “Don Quixote”
Saturday evening, 4 February and Friday 10 February 2012

by Dean Speer

Seeing and enjoying alternate casts is a pleasure and an interesting experience – and in this case, with Carrie Imler as Kitri and Batkhurel Bold as Basilo, exciting too.

Imler’s sheer joy in executing the dances was infectious and thrilling as were her many single and double fouettés in the grand pas de deux of Act III.

Bold is, has been, and continues to be one of the strongest male dancers around and we are so fortunate to enjoy his performances.

Even though on the cover of Dance Magazine, it had seemed to me that Rachel Foster, while cast and performing a lot, was given few visible opportunities – at least the overt kind where she could carry an evening as she did so well with her Kitri debut on the 10th.

Foster was smartly paired with Seth Orza whose confidence, open manner, and clean bravura gave her someone in whom she could put her complete trust – a critical thing with the sheer mechanics of one-handed overhead lifts, partnered pirouettes, and dramatic characterizations.

We got a preview and were reminded of Foster’s technical strength, depth, excellent phrasing and sheer bravura twice the previous week when she essayed the role of Cupid, whose Act II, scene two zippy variation was amazing for its remarkable speed and control – and use of challenging steps. So I had every confidence that her first, of what I hope will be many, outings as Kitri was a fun adventure, only showing an occasional hint of nerves – and was impressed by her remarkable interpretation, as were the audience whose roar of approval rang through the opera house during bows.

Addendum: I inadvertently left out of my remarks from the Opening Night show – observations of Laura Gilbreath and Lindsi Dec who were SO strong as Kitri’s friends, Juanita and Piccilia as to leave little doubt this production was a major coup. Doing any Pepita ballet requires that companies not just invest in the physical production but in its style and PNB continues to thrill us with just how well they rehearse and coach each level so that what we see on stage is just right. This showed clearly in both of their variations – together and singly throughout the ballet but who really set the right tone and relaxed us anxious ballet fans during Act I. They were very tight in their ensemble work and showed great use of épaulement that was very satisfying.

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