It Grows On You
Pacific Northwest Ballet’s “Pinocchio”
Sunday, 16 March, 3:30 p.m. performance
McCaw Hall, Seattle
by Dean Speer
Pacific Northwest Ballet’s “Pinocchio” encapsulates the elements of ballet at its best during its one hour duration and I’m continually amazed and impressed with how much delight choreographer Bruce Wells fits into it. A clear storyline, multiple characters, showing different levels of ballet ranks – corps, soloists, stars, interesting choreography that’s robust, clean, fun, and done with the moxie that each of Pacific Northwest Ballet School’s students bring to the cast, with guest artist Alexandra Dickson [a retired PNB star herself] as the Blue Fairy.
I’ve had several friends tell me how much their young children enjoyed it. Indeed, it’s the type of show that’s for the young at heart and has the type of feel that’s neither embarrassing as being too juvenile nor of the kind where I felt I should have had to cover my father’s eyes while he was still with us to enjoy the ballet.
Alejandro Martinez Azorin as the Cricket gave the role a lot of punch – you could instantly tell he’s got an enormous technique and skill – just by his entrance, making and holding attitude en avant pose and when he came to the grand relevé tours à la seconde he gave them so much whipping attack and rhythm that he made them exciting – as they can and should be, the audience spontaneously starting to cheer and clap.
An “Underwater Divertissment” featured Dylan Wald as Neptune and Bella Ungar, both of whom appear to be company-ready – well beyond a student level, strong and beautiful.
Dickson mined every nuance and made an even better impression than she did before when this was last presented – finding her voice in the miming sequences. Professional Division student Kyle Davis made the most out of the role of Geppetto and thoroughly enjoyed his characterization of a slightly hapless and in-the-belly-of-the-fish puppet maker.
When the entire cast was brought on stage for a finale, it was rousing, energizing and a ‘feel-good’ moment truly.
With scenic designs by the late, great Edith Whitsett and costumes by PNB’s rightfully famous Costume Shop, the matrix of all of the elements grew together to make a one-hour ballet that was full of protean dancing, well thought out and crafted choreography, and one swell afternoon at the theatre. And one theatre and lobby packed with excited and enthusiastic ballet-goers.