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 Post subject: "Silver Lining"
PostPosted: Sun Jun 23, 2002 3:39 pm 
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To kick off this topic, here is the section from our preview article on "Silver Lining". This super image of Julia Tobiason and Olivier Wevers is all over the Underground system in London<P> Image <P>********************************************************<P>Following the pattern of their previous London season, the Company is bringing a full-length work, "Silver Lining", and a Mixed Bill. "Silver Lining", choreographed by Kent Stowell, is an exuberant look at America's theatrical heritage. When premiered in 1998, Mary Murfin Bayley, dance critic of The Seattle Times wrote, <P> 'Pacific Northwest Ballet pulled out the stops for its season finale: singing dancers, lavish sets, a professional magician and dancing that, although pure ballet, had the swing, glamour and fun of social dancing. The audience responded with a standing ovation. <P> The dances in Kent Stowell's "Silver Lining," a full-length ballet set to the music of Jerome Kern, represent some of Stowell's best choreography to date. His use of Charleston, tango and jitterbug - incorporated seamlessly into the ballet idiom - gives this work variety, freedom and an infectious sense of fun.'<P>The show was revived in 2000 and R.M. Campbell, writing in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer,<BR>also enjoyed the show, <P> 'Most people love to see ballet dancers get loose, to see all that hard-earned technique used in something less rigorous and more fun-loving. There is a good deal of that in "Silver Lining." The whole company danced with such effortless grace, confidence and élan on occasion it took one's breath away. Indeed, that is one of the most appealing aspects of the performance.'<P>The 2002 London dance season is turning into a celebration of US show biz. We have already seen ENB in Balanchine's 'Who Cares', Rambert's 'The Parade's Gone By' and Northern Ballet Theatre's new 'I Got Rhythm' will no doubt come to London in the next year. I'm looking forward to Stowell's "Silver Lining" and I'm pleased that we will see this recent work rather than one of the classical standards.<P>Here are the links to:<P><A HREF="http://archives.seattletimes.nwsource.com/cgi-bin/texis.cgi/web/vortex/display?slug=pnb&date=19980527&query=pacific+Northwest+Ballet+Silver+Lining" TARGET=_blank><B>Mary Murfin Bayley's review of original production in The Seattle Times</B></A><P><A HREF="http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/classical/clas26.shtml" TARGET=_blank><B>R.M. Campbell's preview interview with Kent Stowell on the occasion of the performances in 2000</B></A><P><A HREF="http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/classical/pnbq2.shtml" TARGET=_blank><B>R.M. Campbell's review of the 2000 production.</B></A><P>*********************************************************************


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 Post subject: Re: "Silver Lining"
PostPosted: Mon Jul 01, 2002 3:13 pm 
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Here's what I had to say about this season's performance of excerpts from <I>Silver Lining</I>:<P> <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>Hardly had Julie Tobiason and Olivier Wevers strutted onto centre stage in a section from Kent Stowell's "Silver Lining" before an audience member in the orchestra section let out a wolf's cry at the top of his lungs. It's that kind of ballet: playfully sexy and sizzling hot -- the shoulder shrugs especially teased the audience -- but also virtuosic in technique and tempo. The section is titled "Whip-Poor-Will," after Jerome Kern's a la 'Cotton Club' score of the same name, but it's no surprise the dancers dub it "Dirty Dancing."<HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P><a href=../../../reviews/pnb-010922.html target=_blank>More</a>


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 Post subject: Re: "Silver Lining"
PostPosted: Wed Jul 03, 2002 4:33 am 
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<B>Pacific Northwest Ballet – Silver Lining – 2.7.02 – 7.30p.m.</B><P>Silver Lining is billed in the programme notes as a tribute to “Jerome Kern, whose brilliant work in musical theatre contributed significantly to creating what is now regarded as a classic American art form.” When fusing two dance forms it is always difficult to successfully combine both and where as most musical theatre performers will have a sound ballet training the demands of musical theatre also require other assets in presentation which will sometimes be difficult for a purely ballet trained dancer to get to grips with. Some of the dancers obviously relished this challenge where as others seemed ill at ease with this performance genre.<P>The opening piece (Look for the Silver Lining and Left All Alone Again Blues) unfortunately did not grab me. The spacing at times of the dancers looked precarious and there was a sharpness missing in the precision of some of the moves and patterns which is essential in this musical theatre style. I understand that the Sadlers Wells stage lacked depth compared to PNB’s home theatre so this would obviously have an effect. The majority of female dancers performed some sections of this piece on pointe, however the moves not done on pointe – the more musical theatre style choreography - appeared completely at odds with the wearing of pointe shoes and made the dancers look rather clumsy and seemed to slow down some of the more intricate choreography. From this, the opening seemed not to succeed in fusing the two forms.<P>The programme combined song and dance at a number of intervals. The lovely soprano and tenor, Valerie Piacenti and Erich Parce entertained beautifully but some of the company dancers when made to stand and sing looked extremely uncomfortable. I also found the inclusion of singers just standing on stage singing rather a distraction to the dance during the first act. In the second act the singers were placed in the balconies or behind the dancers which gave a far more successful visual balance.<P>The first act progressed with some rather strange choices, some of the lighter numbers (The Bullfrog Patrol and The Edinboro Wiggle) were not substantial enough to sustain my attention and it was only when we got to The Cotton Club section that I felt engaged.<P>Whip Poor Will was probably the highlight of the first act. Louise Nadeau and Oliver Wevers performed with conviction, expression and a sultriness that set the stage alight. Carrie Imler carried this through into Can’t Help Lovin’Dat Man and the company fortunately ended the first act on a high with an energetic Harlem finale.<P>The second act enthused me a great deal more. We entered the era of Astaire and Rodgers and the obvious balletic quality and fluidity that Astaire brought to his style of dance was obviously a style that a lot of the dancers felt more comfortable with. The second act was also full of more smaller company pieces, duets, trios and solos which seemed to work better. Some of my favourite pieces in this half included The Last Time I Saw Paris which presented a graceful, fluid Caron/Astaire-esque duet between Araina Lallone and Stanko Milov. When talking Fred Astaire the inclusion of tap was inevitable and Jeffrey Stanton presented a nice, short routine. The stage floor seemed not entirely suited for the sound of tap as a certain amount of clarity seemed to be lost. Stanton’s taps also sounded very loose which produces a good jingly sound, but does sometimes mean that clarity of sound is lost. <P>It was again as we got towards the end of this act that my interest sharpened. The Hoffman House section probably produced the most effective visual picture of the evening and also blended song and dance very well with a chorus of tailed males set against the Empire State Building and a lovely duet between Louise Nadeau and Paul Gibson played out in front. Atmospherically it was beautiful. In fact both the Set and Costume designers (Ming Cho Lee and David Murlin) are to be congratulated on their designs particularly for the second act. As well as a giant Empire State building the Cowardesque tall ladies on the back drop during Lovely to Look At were very effective. The costume design keeping to black, white and red in the second act was stunning and I particularly liked the way the red and white gowns in Yesterday’s Dance complemented the choreography so well.<P>The Finale commenced with a very entertaining and intricate pas de trios between Tempe Ostergren, Jonathan Poretta and Mara Vinson. Poretta obviously delighted in performing this work. The finale was a black and white spectacle where really the soloists stole the show. The corps seemed to lack that musical theatre pizzazz although their choreography compared to the soloists in the Finale I would have felt did not do much to ignite them.<P>The company however was well received by the audience last night and showed obvious good technique. This style of performance will not suit every dancer and the programme in itself was probably a little too long to sustain enough variation in the choreography. However it was an entertaining evening which I am sure much of the London audience will enjoy.<BR>


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 Post subject: Re: "Silver Lining"
PostPosted: Wed Jul 03, 2002 8:43 am 
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<BR>First newspaper review:<P><B>Too hot to trot</B><P>Pacific Northwest Ballet: Programme I<BR>The Evening Standard<BR>by Sarah Frater<P> <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>Should classical ballet companies dance in the Broadway style? Should they sing? And, more to the point, are they any good atit? Ballet and Broadway seem sofar apart - ballet is a speechless artabout restraint and formality, Broadw ay is about letting go. <P>If Pacific Northwest Ballet (PNB) is any guide,the answ er is carefully to the first question, no to the second, and yes to the third but only some of the time. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P><A HREF="http://www.thisislondon.com/dynamic/hottx/theatre/dance_review.html?in_review_id=623612&in_review_text_id=600771" TARGET=_blank><B>more...</B></A><p>[This message has been edited by Emma Pegler (edited July 03, 2002).]


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 Post subject: Re: "Silver Lining"
PostPosted: Wed Jul 03, 2002 9:16 am 
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Thank you for the opening night review! I am pleased that Louise was able to step into the Whip-Poor-Will with Olivier, despite having duties in other parts of the show. Her role in the Hoffman House section is particularly compelling.


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 Post subject: Re: "Silver Lining"
PostPosted: Wed Jul 03, 2002 10:30 am 
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Sorry to hear about the partnering mishap with Kaori and Le Yin. He is still relatively new to the company (having joined in midseason from Houston Ballet) and the repertory. There is also a considerable height differential between those two....She is probably best partnered by Paul Gibson.


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 Post subject: Re: "Silver Lining"
PostPosted: Wed Jul 03, 2002 1:38 pm 
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Yes Louise Nadeau I was impressed with. the Hoffman House section will probably be the strongest memory of this production for me.


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 Post subject: Re: "Silver Lining"
PostPosted: Wed Jul 03, 2002 5:46 pm 
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Reading this review, I have a mental image of Balanchine's ballet to Gershwin music - I forget the name of this ballet. They sound similar. What does the music sound like in Slver Lining?


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 Post subject: Re: "Silver Lining"
PostPosted: Wed Jul 03, 2002 9:08 pm 
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Hi, Diana, I think maybe you're thinking of "Who Cares?" The company also does a very nice version of this ballet.


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 Post subject: Re: "Silver Lining"
PostPosted: Wed Jul 03, 2002 10:56 pm 
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Review from The FT.<P> <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>This Silver Lining (I dare not think what sort of cloud it inhabits) is owed to Kent Stowell, the troupe's artistic director and lies in the small but perfectly formed shadow of Balanchine's Gershwin tribute, Who Cares?. Unhappily, Silver Lining has the most frightful Topsy-ish tendencies, and is a prime example of artistic elephantiasis. There is too much, much too much, of Kern's usually enchanting tunes, of high-stepping, treacly sentiment, references to the good old days of musicals and film, to the Cotton Club, to vaudeville - indeed, to everything except the final curtain. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P><A HREF="http://news.ft.com/servlet/ContentServer?pagename=FT.com/StoryFT/FullStory&c=StoryFT&cid=1025706815541&p=1016625900929" TARGET=_blank> <B> MORE </B> </A><P>And in the Telegraph.<P> <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>Pacific Northwest Ballet from Seattle has a similar position in US ballet culture as, say, Birmingham Royal Ballet has in ours - a regional company that makes a claim on top-class status from the individuality of its repertoire and the strength of its dancing.<P><HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P><A HREF="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/arts/main.jhtml?xml=%2Farts%2F2002%2F07%2F04%2Fbtisme04.xml" TARGET=_blank> <B> MORE </B> </A><P>And in the Times.<P> <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>ONE wants to welcome Pacific Northwest Ballet back to London after its 1999 debut in the capital. But opening its Sadler’s Wells season with Silver Lining, a “fun-filled tribute to the music of Jerome Kern and the creativity of American musical theatre”, is just about the worst way to tell the world that you’re a ballet company who wants to be taken seriously on the international stage. It’s trite, tedious and flatter than a fallen soufflé. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P><A HREF="http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,685-345761,00.html" TARGET=_blank> <B> MORE </B> </A><P>And finally in The guardian.<P> <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>Name recognition may be one of the most dismal gods of the ballet box office, but it is also the most powerful. That is why Swan Lake, Sylvie Guillem and Tchaikovsky will always sell more tickets than an abstract setting of Hindemith. This is the only charitable explanation for Pacific Northwest Ballet's full-length Silver Lining, which has name recognition in spades. A score consisting entirely of Jerome Kern songs, and a setting that presses every nostalgia button from the 1920s and 1930s, are a guaranteed crowd-pleasing combination. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P><A HREF="http://www.guardian.co.uk/Archive/Article/0,4273,4454000,00.html" TARGET=_blank> <B> MORE </B> </A>


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 Post subject: Re: "Silver Lining"
PostPosted: Thu Jul 04, 2002 12:55 am 
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Well, “Silver Lining” is never going to be my favourite show either, but I did find things to enjoy. Louise Nadeau and Olivier Wevers in particular have mastered the dance style necessary for this work and the trio in “Pick Yourself Up” generate as much energy as we’re likely to see at Sadler’s this year. The “Cotton Club” and “Hoffman House” sections worked for me. I enjoyed the singing and the designs, but I agree that there is too much sweetness overall and a couple of the numbers could be pruned.

However, there’s no doubt that a lot of the audience had a fine time at Sadler’s Wells with “Silver Lining”. If you enjoy light dance works using ballet technique and strong designs then don’t be too discouraged by the London critics. There are matinee and evening performances on Saturday.

It’s also worth pointing out that the initial reactions that I have heard from the London critics to the Mixed Bill programme have been very positive and I can strongly recommend it to all ballet fans. Here is the link to our Mixed Bill topic.

<small>[ 08-11-2002, 07:32: Message edited by: Stuart Sweeney ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: "Silver Lining"
PostPosted: Thu Jul 04, 2002 8:47 am 
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Well, Kent took a risk here and knew he was taking it. I must say that the resolute implacability of the London press corps is disappointing -- no one really gives the piece much of a chance. Obviously, they would have been happier with a full-length Balanchine work...but, wait...there is only one (Midsummer) in the repertoire and they brought that one the last time out. More oddly, no one gets beyond their disdain for the concept and the choreography to say anything about the performers or the production values, beyond a couple of pokes at the singers in Ismene's review. Too bad.


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 Post subject: Re: "Silver Lining"
PostPosted: Thu Jul 04, 2002 9:10 am 
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I hear that there is at least one positive review of "Silver Lining" on its way from a London critic. <P>While it goes without saying that bad reviews are part of life as an artist, several of us here are dismayed by the extreme imagery used by Clement Crisp in his first paragraph.


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 Post subject: Re: "Silver Lining"
PostPosted: Thu Jul 04, 2002 1:56 pm 
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There were some dancers that really took to the style and I think that with some pruning and reflection it could become a very enjoyable and worthy piece for their repertoire. There were also a few dancers who a fairly new to the company and the piece as a whole and with it being such a strong style to grasp it may be that with time they will get to grips with it more.<P>Despite the negative reviews the paying audience did seem to have a fine time.


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 Post subject: Re: "Silver Lining"
PostPosted: Thu Jul 04, 2002 1:57 pm 
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After reading Mr. Crisp's review, I felt 1) it was over-stated and, 2) he's in love with his writing.<P>I was hoping he, and the other critics would be open to a more expansive definition of what ballet can be. "Silver Lining" while not a "tutu and crown" piece is a good work, never the less. I thought it audacious and admirable that Mr. Stowell wanted to bring something to London audiences that was not the usual fare.<P>PNB, like so many modern ballet companies, has a huge and extremely varied repertory. The dancers are wonderfully amazing and really can "do it all." If time and money were not a factor, I'm sure London audiences would enjoy other selections from PNB's library - "Don Quixote" (acquired from ABT), "Sleeping Beauty" (staged by English National Ballet directors), two Tudor ballets, and many, many others.<P>It's too bad the press, so far, has also not talked much about the dancers and dancing.<P>Let's hope programme two finds our august writers not clutching their pens so tightly, while making notes under the cover of darkness.<P>On a very positive note, I'm happy to hear that audiences seem to be enjoying the ballets! Sometimes, this is the true test of success.

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