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 Post subject: Mixed Bill
PostPosted: Sun Jun 23, 2002 3:53 pm 
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Image <P>To kick off this topic, here is the section from our preview article on the Mixed Bill. One additional point about the extract from "Le Corsaire", this piece has been specially staged for PNB by Yuri Fateev, Ballet Master of the Kirov Ballet in St Petersburg. <P>*************************************************<P>The Mixed Bill is a showcase for the wide repertory of the Company. Artistic Directors, Kent Stowell and Francia Russell were both New York City Ballet dancers under Balanchine's direction and they have included the Master's "Divertimento No. 15" to Mozart's Divertimento in B-flat major (K.287). The work dates from 1956 and is a one act ballet for 5 ballerinas, three male soloists and eight corps de ballet. Craine and Mackrell's Dictionary of Dance write, 'Although it has no plot its dance imagery can partly be viewed as a celebration of love.' <P>PNB took the piece to New York in 1996 and Anne Kisselgoff in the NY Times, wrote that it, '....took one's breath away and defined how far the company has come." She also wrote of a "freshness and beauty that are revealing." <P>"Jardi Tancat" will be the third Nacho Duato work seen in London this year. It was the first piece that Spanish choreographer Duato created in 1983 when he was with Nederlands Dans Theatre and it is has since entered the rep of a string of ballet companies around the world. As far as I am aware it hasn't been staged in London since an NDT2 visit a decade ago and thus it's a good opportunity for us to re-evaluate this ballet.<P>Jack Andrews in the NY Times wrote of PNB's production, <P> 'A row of sticks confined the cast of ''Jardi Tancat,'' the best-known creation of the Spanish choreographer Nacho Duato. The title is Catalan for ''enclosed garden,'' and the dancers seem to be struggling in a wilderness that may be emotional or even political as well as geographical. Recorded Catalan songs by Maria del Mar Bonet serve as a fervent accompaniment. The dancers matched the musical and choreographic intensity.' <P>Peter Martins, Balanchine's successor at New York City Ballet, choreographed "Fearful Symmetries" to John Adams' eponymous composition in 1990. This is one of the scores most frequently used by choreographers in recent years. Many UK dance fans are familiar with Ashley Page's award winning ballet and American modern dance choreographer, Doug Varone, has also brought his version to London. Martins' production is a large one-act ballet for 23 dancers and the press release tells us that, '...it is bathed in dramatic and ever-changing hues of red and blue and matches the music's racing pulse in striking combinations.' <P>Anna Kisselgoff wrote about the New York City Ballet production:<P> 'The opener was ''Fearful Symmetries,'' in which Peter Martins's textured, plotless design dynamically meets the exciting rhythmic pulse of John Adams's score of the same title. Choreographed in 1990, the ballet has lost none of its energy.....<P> ....the ballet avoids the minimalist repetition of steps that the score's minimalist undertones could encourage. Mr. Martins picks up on its rhythms. The pace is relentless, tempered by lyrical passages for two main couples who briefly swap partners and then join in the quiet ritualistic coda that is always a surprise.' <P>Also included in the Mixed Bill is the pas de trois from "Le Corsaire". I have to say that speaking personally I would prefer to see another short work new to London, but if we are going to have a Gala faithful then 'Le Corsaire' with a trio of dynamic performers will do very nicely. <P><p>[This message has been edited by Stuart Sweeney (edited June 23, 2002).]


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 Post subject: Re: Mixed Bill
PostPosted: Sun Jun 23, 2002 5:00 pm 
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Wow, this is exciting! There are very few companies who present this breadth and variety of repertory, all the way from contemporary ('Jardi Tancat') to pure classical ("Le Corsaire"),and everything in between. It will be fun to see how Londoners receive our hometown company! Also, how individual pieces are received and are perceived by a different audience.<p>[This message has been edited by trina (edited June 23, 2002).]


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 Post subject: Re: Mixed Bill
PostPosted: Wed Jun 26, 2002 8:45 am 
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The first review of the London Mixed Bill and before you ask - no, you haven't got the week wrong. PNB previewed the programme, minus the pas de trois from Le Corsaire, for a local audience at Port Townsend on June 24, 2002. Here is Francis Timlin's review.<P>*********************************<P>The setting was stunning as ever and the weather fully cooperated for PNB's run-out performance at the McCurdy Pavilion at Port Townsend's Fort Worden State Park. Port Townsend is a National Historic District on the Quimper Peninsula (the northeast tip of the larger Olympic Peninsula) across Puget Sound to the west of Seattle and features a wonderful array of Victorian homes, many of which operate as bed & breakfast establishments. The park is a picturesque World War I era Army post familiar to some as the setting for the film, "An Officer and a Gentleman." The house is a former dirigible hanger that has been extensively renovated into a large performance space with seating for approximately 1,000 audience members. At last evening's performance, the house was sold out and there were a considerable number of standees behind the seating area, reportedly students from Port Townsend area dance schools. <P><B>The performance was an opportunity for the area audience to preview the first cast of the mixed repertory bill for the July 3-5 London performances.</B> <P>The evening began auspiciously with Divertimento No. 15, Balanchine's 1956 reworking of his 1952 work, Caracole, to music by Mozart for horns and strings. Five principal women and three principal men are required. In this performance, Patricia Barker, Carrie Imler, Noelani Pantastico, Melanie Skinner and Mara Vinson were partnered by Christophe Maraval, Jeffrey Stanton and Olivier Wevers. <P>Following some tentative opening moments, the performance quickly gathered strength in the opening Allegro movement and solidified in the Theme and Variations, with Messrs. Maraval and Wevers delivering the Theme, followed by variations from Noelani Pantastico, Mara Vinson (in her first performance in this work), Patricia Barker (in a Diana Adams variation), Melanie Skinner (in a Tanaquil Leclerc "showgirl" variation), Jeffrey Stanton in the solo male variation, and Carrie Imler in the quicksilver variation. Balanchine's movement in these variations is highly idiosyncratic and was originally intended to highlight some individual quality in each of the dancers (in 1956, Tanaquil LeClercq, Diana Adams, Patricia Wilde, Melissa Hayden and Allegra Kent were partnered by Nicholas Magallanes, Herbert Bliss and Roy Tobias). The eight corps dancers performed well in the Minuet and the principals' partnering drew rapt attention from the audience in the Andante. The finale elicited spendid ensemble work with the tempo from the orchestra pushed toward the upward limit. The ovation at the work's conclusion confirmed that the audience was devouring every aspect of the performance.<P>Divertimento was staged by PNB Artistic Director Francia Russell with costume designs by Karinska and lighting design by Thomas R. Skelton. The orchestra, reduced to 20 strings and two horns, was conducted by Allan Dameron and played well. <P>The buoyancy of Divertimento carried over throughout intermission and endured as the audience settled in for Jardi Tancat, which begins with a lengthy section in silence. The performers were Ariana Lallone and Jeffrey Stanton; Julie Tobiason and Paul Gibson; Alexandra Dickson and Olivier Wevers. The work proceeded through the silent opening section and into the first section of Catalan song, sung on tape by Maria del Mar Bonet. As in Divertimento, the performers seemed to feed from the audience's energy and enthusiasm and gave a performance of tremendous commitment. Oddly, however, Julie Tobiason, who was giving her final U.S. performance, walked offstage about a third of the way through the piece. It almost appeared to be a choreographed exit; the other five dancers, including her partner, Paul Gibson, continued for several minutes to the end of the song and section. At that point, Francia Russell appeared onstage and announced that Julie had hurt her foot, that they were unable to continue the ballet, and that they would take an intermission to regroup for Fearful Symmetries. <P>Ironically, Centrum, the presenter responsible for all programming at Fort Worden, had asked that the next work on the London mixed bill, Le Corsaire Pas de Trois, be dropped from this performance for considerations of program length. (It would also have required a larger, more expensive orchestra.) I believe the first cast will be Patricia Barker, Stanko Milov and Casey Herd, which should prove to be excellent. <P>The final work on the program was Peter Martins' Fearful Symmetries. Lead couples were Louise Nadeau and Batkhurel Bold, Melanie Skinner and Christophe Maraval, and Kaori Nakamura and Paul Gibson. Ms. Nakamura was radiant in go-for-broke mode throughout the performance. Jonathan Porretta was first among equals amid the soloists, who included Timothy Lynch and Astrit Zejnati (a returnee following a season at Miami City Ballet). The corps displayed outstanding energy and ensemble as the work built toward its frenetic climax. The audience applauded wildly. Unfortunately, the piece was not yet over. In fact, it ends rather quietly, with a symmetrical tableau in the receding light. <P>The John Adams score was performed on tape, which will not be the case in London, a full orchestra being beyond the space confines of the pit area at McCurdy Pavilion. <BR>Altogether, a celebretory evening, marred only by the unfortunate injury sustained by Ms. Tobiason. There will undoubtedly be a ripple effect of the need to shift casting in Jardi and in Silver Lining, where she was scheduled to perform Whip-Poor-Will with Olivier Wevers -- a particular disappointment, both for the performers and the audience. <BR>Nonetheless, the mixed bill is a program worthy of attention and attendance by anyone interested readily apprehending the spectrum of PNB style.<P>


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 Post subject: Re: Mixed Bill
PostPosted: Wed Jul 03, 2002 11:27 pm 
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<img src="http://www.criticaldance.com/pnb/images/pnb-fearful.jpg" alt="" />

Reasons to be cheerful
First impressions of the PNB Mixed Bill – July 3rd 2002

This was one of my most enjoyable ballet evenings this year. The sharpest impression I have of PNB is of a strong ensemble company that dances together and supports each other. This Mixed Bill shows off these qualities to fine effect and provides London audiences with the opportunity to see two works not seen here for a while and the London premiere of Peter Martins' "Fearful Symmetries".

Balanchine’s “Divertimento #15” is an elegant, classical work from the 1950s and Francia Russell has set the ballet on companies around the world for the Balanchine Trust. This performance showed the skill and experience that she brings to the Master’s repertory with the ever-changing patterns well defined and the dancers moving together easily. In addition the dancing had a musicality that made it full of understated charm for me.

“Jardi Tancat” by Nacho Duato is one of the most popular contemporary works staged by ballet companies around the world and PNB’s emotionally charged performance underlined why this is so. Set to wonderful, sad songs by Maria del Mar Bonet, the six dancers brought the work to life with Kaori Nakamura and Alexandra Dickson in particular stretching our heartstrings with their portrayal of anguish in a peasant community. Using angular movement, with hands and feet often flexed at 90 degrees, we see a series of solos and combinations after a haunting opening danced in silence. For many, including me, this was the high spot of the evening.

“Le Corsaire” pas de trois is fun, and Patricia Barker, Stanko Milov and Casey Herd received great applause for their performance. Patricia Barker exudes class with every step and her supple back and fine line made for lovely shapes, although I have some doubts about her often sharply angled wrists. Stanko Milov danced the Slave solos with much verve, but a little more elevation in his jumps would have been welcome.

Finally we saw Peter Martins’ “Fearful Symmetries”. I don’t feel a need to compare this to Ashley Page’s ballet to the same score, as Martins takes a neo-classical approach and the two works are as different as can be. There was exhilaration and variety in plenty and John Adams’ dynamic music was admirably complemented by the choreography. Louise Nadeau followed her successes in “Silver Lining” with another fine, sinuous performance and newly promoted Soloist, Jonathan Porretta, showed that he is star material in the making. The ferocious speed of his feet and the quality of his movement mark him out as someone to watch. But again, the key element here was PNB’s ability to work smoothly together and the synchronised dancing in the large scale sequences emphasised the care with which the piece has been prepared.

Overall a fine evening of dance and a showcase for what PNB can do in a range of styles. If you haven’t booked tickets yet, you still have a chance to see the Mixed Bill on Thursday and Friday evenings and there is a special offer for CriticalDance readers. Full details are available here.

<small>[ 08-11-2002, 07:35: Message edited by: Stuart Sweeney ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: Mixed Bill
PostPosted: Thu Jul 04, 2002 12:39 am 
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I'm pleased to see that you had a good evening Stuart. As I said in my review of Silver Linings the company certainly looked to be capable of more and it seems the mixed bill has brought this out. I hope they receive some more favourable reviews in the UK press for this programme.


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 Post subject: Re: Mixed Bill
PostPosted: Thu Jul 04, 2002 5:00 am 
In retrospect I think that it would have turned out far better for PNB if they had opened the London season with the mixed bill instead, and scheduled "Silver Lining" as the second programme. I am sorry for not being able to come to London this week to see the PNB.<p>[This message has been edited by Kevin Ng (edited July 04, 2002).]


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 Post subject: Re: Mixed Bill
PostPosted: Thu Jul 04, 2002 6:33 am 
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I know what you mean Kevin and it's a shame that the good reviews for the Mixed Bill that I have heard are on the way from at least some of the London critics will not be seen until the latter part of the week.<P>On the other hand "Silver Lining" gets the entire Company on stage and has proved more saleable to London audiences than the Mixed Bill. As with life in general predicting the future is a tricky business.


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 Post subject: Re: Mixed Bill
PostPosted: Thu Jul 04, 2002 8:58 am 
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I'm pleased to hear that you had an enjoyable evening, Stuart. I think the program does a good job of highlighting the company's strengths, even if the ticket-buying public apparently sees it as chancy.


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 Post subject: Re: Mixed Bill
PostPosted: Thu Jul 04, 2002 8:59 am 
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<B>Pacific Northwest Ballet – Mixed Programme – 03.07.02 – 7.30pm</B><P><BR>Pacific Northwest Ballet’s second programme of their London season opened<BR>with George Balanchine’s ‘Divertimento #15 set to Mozart. This clear cut classical<BR>work full of understated elegance let the musicality of the dancers shine. There<BR>were notable performances in the Variations section and the 8 corps de ballet<BR>dancers shone especially in the Minuet. No doubt the ease with which the company<BR>performs this piece is due careful preparation by Artistic Director Francia Russell who used to dance one of the ballerina roles while with NYCB and has since<BR>staged ‘Divertimento #15 for ballet companies throughout Europe.<P>The evening continued with Nacho Duato’s ‘Jardi Tancat’ (Catalan for ‘Closed<BR>Garden). Duato’s first choreography is based on Catalonian folk tales collected<BR>and sung by Maria del Mar Bonet deals with the hardship of peasants working<BR>the barren land praying for rain that does not come and the way the endure<BR>their existence with courage and great spirit. The piece starts in silence with<BR>3 couples moving in perfect unison through the simple stylised stage setting.<BR>When the passionately melancholic songs set in we are taken through a series<BR>of pas de deux, solos and ensemble movements all heartbreakingly expressing<BR>the people’s desperation and sadness. The simple costumes, shirts and trousers<BR>for the men and long dresses for the girls, all in warm earth colours and <BR>the warm lightning design let you almost feel the heat and drought. In tonight’s<BR>superb cast Alexandra Dickson, Kaori Nakamura and Olivier Wevers especially<BR>stood out. The piece was the highpoint of the evening for me.<P>With the famous pas de trois from ‘Le Corsaire’ that followed the evening once<BR>again changed its style direction. This classic gala show stopper piece worked<BR>its usual charm on the audience. Patricia Barker, Stanko Milov and Casey Herd<BR>danced with great skill and enthusiasm but their interpretation was a hint too<BR>over the top for my taste. No matter last night’s audience loved every minute<BR>of it and rewarded the performers with a lot of applause.<P>The evening closed with Peter Martin’s ‘Fearful Symmetries’. This neo-classical work for 23 dancers was created in 1990 for New York City Ballet and was obviously inspired by Balanchine’s typical style. PNB’s ensemble again looked very strong in the fast paced, varied choreography that suits Adam’s haunting and adrenaline charged, dynamic score perfectly. Among the appearing soloist Kaori Nakamura, Louise Nadeau and Jonathan Porretta were especially sparkling in the speedy footwork required.<P>Overall this well balanced and very enjoyable programme showed off the company’s<BR>versatility in a variety of styles and its strengths in working as an ensemble with<BR>remarkable team spirit. It was one of the best evenings of dance I have seen in London<BR>this year. The Mixed Bill can be seen on Thursday 04/07/02 and Friday 05/07/02<BR>


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 Post subject: Re: Mixed Bill
PostPosted: Thu Jul 04, 2002 10:41 pm 
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A much more positive start to the press reviews this time.<P>The Times.<P> <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>THINGS had to look up, didn’t they? After a dire start to its Sadler’s Wells season, Pacific Northwest Ballet came to its senses on Wednesday night and put on the kind of programme that will make people want to see this Seattle-based company. The Jerome Kern abomination of the night before was put on the back burner as the American visitors offered a selection of choreography, both classic and contemporary, that showcased their strengths and individual assets. You may not like everything on this bill, but you will like something. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P><A HREF="http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,685-346520,00.html" TARGET=_blank> <B> MORE </B> </A><P>The Evening Standard are not so enthusiastic.<P> <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>John Adams's Fearful Symmetries has attracted more choreographers than any piece of contemporary music. London audiences will know Ashley Page's version for The Royal Ballet, which set the shine on Irek Mukhamedov's star, while Doug Varone, Mark Dendy and Christopher d'Amboise have also been lured by its rhythms, as has Peter Martins, Balanchine's favourite at New York City Ballet. <P><HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P><A HREF="http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/dynamic/hottx/theatre/dance_review.html?in_review_id=623613&in_review_text_id=601973" TARGET=_blank> <B> MORE </B> </A>


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 Post subject: Re: Mixed Bill
PostPosted: Thu Jul 04, 2002 11:16 pm 
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Sarah Frater in The Standard clearly has to tell it as she sees it. However, 'Jardi Tancat', over which she places a veil, was greatly appeciated by everyone I spoke to on Wednesday night, the same performance that Frater saw.


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 Post subject: Re: Mixed Bill
PostPosted: Fri Jul 05, 2002 1:33 am 
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The mixed bill of Pacific Northwest Ballet certainly presents a diverse programme.<P>Divertimento # 15 by Balanchine is danced to the music of Mozart, possibly the most difficult choice of composer a choreographer can make, but the music holds no fears for Mr B. who produced a bold work of extravert dancing and unflagging interest. The sets and costumes suggest the 18th century and the work is a wonderful ensemble piece to begin a triple bill.<P>Naco Duarto’s ballet Jardi Tancat has some truly beautiful sung music by Maria del Mar Bonet. The ballet was danced with great conviction by the company and the central couple, Kaori Nakamura and Paul Gibson danced with special fervour, but…. The truth is I cannot regard Duato as an outstanding choreographer. The piece looked good but I still think the dancers were making choreographic bricks without straw, take away the very sincere performances and you are left with a ballet with no more inventiveness than any of the other works by this choreographer.<P>I was a little puzzled by the inclusion of “Le Corsaire pas de trios” on the programme. Did they mean the trio for the three girls in the harem? No. It turned out to be that good old barnstorming number the Corsair pas de deux – but with an extra man. In Russia it is only given with three dancers in the full-length versions to assist with the narrative. The concert version is always given by a single couple. Carrie Imler, a dancer I had previously admired in the Balanchine, has the admirable ability to perform fouettes that don’t wander half way across the stage and her exotic partner was Batkhurel Bold, who possesses the speed and elevation this piece needs. The lifting assistant was Casey Herd, but in this piece three is definitely a crowd!<P>The final work on the programme, Fearful Symmetries, was for me the highlight of the evening. Oddly I always seem to forget that the great Peter Martins is a choreographer, in my minds eye he remains the perfect dazzling classicist. Not many dancers of his top calibre have gone on to produce ballets of this quality.<P>Fearful symmetries has a really terrific score by John Adams and a highly danceable score at that. This is a work of perpetual motion with fast entries that strangely remind me of Cunningham’s works in the ‘80’s. Here the choreography is both very inventive and very attractive, a truly exciting work danced with verve and commitment. Loved it. In such a piece it doesn’t seem fair to pick out just one dancer for praise, but as I discover that Jonathan Porretta is not a principal but a member of the corps de ballet, I feel he deserves a special mention. With dancing ability of that standard I doubt he will stay in the corps for long.<P><BR>


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 Post subject: Re: Mixed Bill
PostPosted: Fri Jul 05, 2002 4:42 am 
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Perhaps Pacific Northwest Ballet should do a Rambert and take the ‘ballet’ out of their name. I wish they’d taken it out of the programme last night. No, that’s unfair but I couldn’t help feeling that rehearsing and performing such a diverse programme must make it difficult to snap back into a pure classical physique. This was evident in the lack of congruence among the corps and soloists, the spiky hands and wrists and the odd skewed epaulement. More worryingly it was the principals who looked most strained. Patricia Barker and Melanie Skinner, two of the longest serving members of the company and two of the tallest, danced as if they were embarrassed by their height, with tense torsos and awkward arms. The dancing in Balanchine’s Divertimento #15 didn’t reflect the poise, proportion and equilibrium of Mozart’s music. <P>So the Balanchine was graceless and the Le Corsaire Pas De Trois pedestrian (although I’d agree with Cassandra that Carrie Imler’s fouettes were impressive) but the company came off much better in Peter Martins’ Fearful Symmetries. John Adams’ driving minimalism conjures hectic, exciting, sprawling urban America, a land in which these dancers seemed at home. You are quite dazzled by the logistics of 23 dancers dashing about in grids and diagonals. The energy and momentum are easily maintained and in the slow pas de deux sections the dancers get a chance to show off the inventive choreography and enjoy the dynamics of Martins’ dance. <P>Where the company really excelled, though, was in Nacho Duato’s Jardi Tancat. The performance so far had been lacking fire, but here they found some soul. In this piece the dancers and the choreography were inextricable, whereas in the Balanchine the choreography was something the dancers were struggling to recreate. Beautiful, earthy, broad sweeps of movement and sharp placing are accentuated by the female dancers’ swishing circular skirts. They danced through the plight of hard working people fuelled by longing, hope and joy. The dancers’ bodies found these shapes more easily -- matching in ensemble, and expressing personality in solos. The warmth and passion of the Mediterranean were easily communicated. <P>So an interesting evening, but I felt the hugely contrasting programme of the mixed bill proved a bit of stretch, and failed to give the dancers the chance to truly inhabit any one style. <P>


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 Post subject: Re: Mixed Bill
PostPosted: Fri Jul 05, 2002 7:27 am 
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<B>When passion is put in peril</B><BR>Ismene Brown reviews Pacific Northwest Ballet at Sadler's Wells for The Daily Telegraph<BR> <P>We are rather starved of the great George Balanchine over here, with only a handful of works performed by our companies, so thanks to Pacific Northwest Ballet for bringing over his delicate Mozart dazzler Divertimento No 15 on their second programme, a chance to improve the dim impression left by their first.<P>There was no more musical choreographer than Balanchine at full throttle, and he comes as near as anyone to making a true marriage between Mozart and classical ballet, though one still has the sense that the unpredictable composer, with his myriad changes of tone even within a single phrase, will always leave dancers chasing behind. <P><A HREF="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/arts/main.jhtml?xml=/arts/2002/07/05/btib05.xml&sSheet=/arts/2002/07/05/ixartright.html" TARGET=_blank><B>click for more</B></A><BR>


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 Post subject: Re: Mixed Bill
PostPosted: Fri Jul 05, 2002 5:04 pm 
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I greatly enjoyed the programme, which was well contrasted and much appreciated by the audience. Tonight, July 5, the stalls was sadly only about half full, and the non-dancing company members did their best to encourage their colleagues. The star dancers for me were Jonathan Porretta in Fearful Symmetries and Kaori Nakamura in Corsaire. Porretta stood out from all the other men because he has great stage presence, attack, a brillant jump,and he pays real attention to his ballerina. Some of his colleagues in Symmetries were not nearly so adept at their partnering, leading the girls to adopt a glacial expression, presumably covering a little uncertainty. Miss Nakamura similarly has great attack and outdanced her male colleagues Yin and Zejnati, good as they were, in spite of a terribly fussy costume. I was struck by the similarity of Divertimento 15 to Ashtons Birthday Offering, with many shared poses and steps. Both date from 1956, and I wonder which came first! It was very well danced if lacking slightly in absolute glamour. The variations are beautifully choreographed, and Carrie Imler was outstanding as the fifth allegro ballerina. Jardi Tancat was not entriely to my taste, but the sextet emoted with great passion and it certainly grew on me once the guitar music came in. I found it just a bit on the pretentious side, as I did Por Vos Muero. I do hope the company come back, and are not discouraged by the lack of promotion.


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