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 Post subject: Pacific Northwest Ballet: Points of View (March 2006)
PostPosted: Thu Mar 09, 2006 3:32 pm 
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Pacific Northwest Ballet's March 2006 program, subtitled "Points of View" consists of Val Caniparoli's "The Bridge," a new work by Dominique Dumais ("Time and Other Matter") and Balanchine's "La Valse." Here is a link to the program information on the PNB website:

Pointes of View

Casting is also available for the entire performance run:

Casting


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 13, 2006 12:30 pm 
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R. M. Campbell previews the performance in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer:

Seattle P-I


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 13, 2006 1:22 pm 
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Moira Macdonald previews "La Valse" in the Seattle Times:

Seattle Times


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 20, 2006 11:13 am 
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Seattle press reviews of the March "Points of View" program. R. M. Campbell in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer:

Seattle P-I

Moira Macdonald in the Seattle Times:

Seattle Times


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 21, 2006 5:39 pm 
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Carole Beers in the King County Journal:

Carole Beers


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 21, 2006 5:53 pm 
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PNB Corps member Lesley Rausch is interviewed by Rosemary Jones in the Queen Anne News:

Lesley Rausch interview


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 24, 2006 10:48 am 
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Operatic Ballet
Pacific Northwest Ballet’s “Points of View” Repertory Program
Saturday, 18 March 2006, Evening Show

by Dean Speer

Pacific Northwest Ballet’s “Points of View” late-Winter repertory program is among the darkest and most serious in tone of my 30-plus years of observing this company’s offerings. Each work dealt with death, loss, isolation or, as in the case of Dominique Dumais’ newest creation, the dramatic or highly expressive side of the artistic nature. [Richard Tanner’s “Ancient Airs and Dances” which tread the boards during PNB’s last repertory program, was originally booked to be on the bill this month, but was switched which I believe made for a happy circumstance.]

Each work was danced with utmost conviction, undergirded by the technical strength for which this company is known. Each was also operatic in terms of its scope, beauty, and universal message. A message to me that read, “Anything less than love will not last and anything more than love, will diminish us all.”

In one work, the futility and wastefulness of war is encapsulated with the death of a young and religiously-diverse couple; in another, “self and pelf” pull in a young débutante who meets her doom by getting pulled into the whirlpool of riches and adornments of the self. The world premiere reveals aspects of an artist’s unresolved and troublesome journey.

The revival of Val Caniparoli’s “The Bridge” was well received. It was commissioned during PNB’s 25th Anniversary Season and premiered in 1998. Set to the Shostakovich “String Quartet No. 8, with costumes by Victoria McFall and lighting by former technical director Randall Chiarelli, all of the elements – choreographic, concept, production, music – come together seamlessly and create a powerful statement. I appreciated the opportunity to re-visit it.

Caniparoli wisely abstracted the story and gives us not one but five couples who, while sometimes sharing movement motifs, refract moments from differing points in time during their unsuccessful bid for freedom. I particularly like the one where the couple faces each other, and he pulls and swings her around himself, while she is in second position en pointe and tilted forward. Memorable also are the lifts that hold, seeming to capture a moment of hope, and then dissolve to the earth. It finishes with the male clearly being shot and both being encased in bright light while the female holds the upright male from behind.

The opening couple was Chalnessa Eames and Lucien Postlewaite followed by Ariana Lallone and Christophe Maraval; Carrie Imler and Karel Cruz; Kaori Nakamura and Jordan Pacitti; and with Louise Nadeau and Olivier Wever beautifully and deeply interpreting the duet that’s at the heart of this – if I can say it – anti-war ballet.

Quebecker Dominique Dumais’ second creation for PNB is, well, very Canadian. A showcase for Ariana Lallone (aka, “One, hot ballerina!”), “Time and Other Matter” – to a score by David Lang – builds slowly. The dancers enter and exit, sometimes under the giant drop that’s in the upper, left corner near the wing. I liked Dumais’ use of what appeared to be random or chance meetings of pairings and groupings of the dancers. They interact before tumbling away again under the drop. Someone suggested that the work is biographical of Lallone. However, I found it more telling of the choreographer herself; autobiographical, revealing much about her creative self and journey yet not in a narrative way – abstracting it for us. I did find it to have a Canadian sensibility about it. It’s hard to explain but I know it when I see it. It’s kind of like how I find myself modifying my vowels and speech rhythms slightly whenever I visit north of the 49th parallel. Canadians have their own “accent” as does this ballet. Both of Dumais’ creations for PNB have been strikingly different and I believe this new one is an interesting and strong addition to PNB’s artistic voice, and one worth subsequent viewings.

It’s been pointed out before that a World War (WWI) separates the two works of Ravel’s waltz music that comprise Francia Russell’s staging of Balanchine’s “La Valse.” For the first part, we see young men and women cheerfully on their way to ball. In the second, it’s a dance gone awry, with fate casting a gloomy pallor over the ballroom. In her program note, the late Jeanie Thomas suggests that the swirling party-goers have joined the débutante in a macabre dance-of-death. “La Valse” is an important Balanchine creation and one that has been in the PNB repertory for over 25 years. Operatic in nature, like many tragic operas, it’s also very beautiful and I think this combination has kept it popular since its 1951 début.

Louise Nadeau was ravishing as the fresh white tulle-encrusted late-comer to the ball who finds an arm to escort and dance with her during the last waltz of the first set but who succumbs to “self and pelf” in part two.

Mr. Balanchine has filled his work with stylized port de bras and motifs that we recognize and which truly tell the story. This is first set up by three women who, with their full-length gloved arms make gestures that suggest elegance and a learnèd sophistication. Some refer to them as the “Three Fates.” Mr. Balanchine, while a master of choreographic ballet, was also a man and master of the theatre and knew how to deploy effective theatrical devices well. I’m thinking of how “La Valse” ends with the entire ballroom madly running in joined and enclosed circles around the lifted form of the now, black tulle-encrusted débutante while the knife curtain comes quickly down for the last, and crazily crashing chords. Brilliant.

This was an “A” cast with Nadeau paired with Wevers and Maraval as death. It’s also a full-company work and while narrative, also shows off what this glorious body of dancers is trained to do. To fully realize the choreographic vision of many choreographers, ranging from Balanchine – which fits them like a glove – to those who are at the forefront, finding their own expressive voices, sometimes in an operatic way.

The fabulous PNB Orchestra was alternately led by maestros Stewart Kershaw and Allan Dameron.

_________________
Dean Speer
ballet@u.washington.edu


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 26, 2006 12:00 pm 
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Wow...

More later after I catch the matinee performance.


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 29, 2006 3:42 am 
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There may be a rumor going around that Azlan only sleeps on aeroplanes. This past weekend I might have agreed, with seemingly the only sleep I got was on the flights between the SF Bay Area and Seattle, all four hours of it. I suppose this is a roundabout way of saying why this post is late.

As for for the program, many thoughts and ideas come to mind. And it took more than 24 hours for this one (my mind that is) to finally sort out what to say and that is this: if I had a personal policy of sending a portion of my annual profits to major ballet companies instead of funding smaller and needier arts organizations, PNB would be receiving more than a few checks from me, not because -- I repeat NOT BECAUSE -- of great programming but rather because of bold, risky and, I might add, dangerous programming that stretches not just the company but also the imagination of the public. The average American audience has just gone too soft between the ears, to paraphrase the late Gene Siskel.

I used to (and still do even if I don't do it as often) sit, walk, and read through hours and hours of really bad works at performances and events that typically fall below the radar of the press and the GP (general public). I did it because I was tired of seeing the "processed" works that have gone through the white-washing, homogenizing and dumbing-down filters of artistic directors, marketing managers, and the press.

I wanted to experience firsthand the explosion of artistry and the discovery of raw talent that can only come when the artist puts him/herself out there, with everything exposed and nothing to lose. The pain and frustration of seeing hundreds of hours of experimental (and not-so experimental) works is well worth it when you discover that one gem that sparks your imagination or that one new amazing talent.

To get there though, the artists have to be allowed to fail. Without the okay to fail, there wouldn't be any experimentation and without experimentation, there wouldn't be any innovation. And that would be the end of people -- we would just be animals living life the same everyday.

All the above of course is a roundabout way (there I go again) of saying I admire greatly Peter Boal's push to provide innovative programming that challenges the dancers and production staff to expand their palette. However, he's going to need all the help he can get because it is hard to imagine the Board of Trustees giving him enough chances to fail especially if ticket sales plummet. This is one time I feel the unique and almost unhealthy relationship between individual dancers in the company and individual members of PNB's Board may be helpful. If the dancers like what Boal is doing, that may give him the few extra chances he needs...

As for the progam itself, the talking point was of course Dominique Dumais' world premiere, "Time and Other Matter," which drew wildly different opinions across the board. I myself was put in two minds about it across both performances I saw. Initially, I had the impression that the choreography, both primal and postmodern-like at the same time, was typically European in its boldness to cross into uncharted territory. On second viewing though, I thought at times it didn't go far enough, being almost a hybrid cross between Dumais' North American roots and her new German inspiration.

It's also hard to rate a work with so much angst and a touch of longing performed by, mostly, American-trained ballet dancers. I can see Forsythe's dancers being utterly at home with this sort of ground-pounding grunge choreograpy but as performed by PNB's dancers, some of the sequences look contrived -- longing, angst, confusion and other inner feelings look more like blank stares, from further back in the hall. Yet, when viewed from a closer vantage point, the perspective changes -- the dancers actually look like they're working from the inside out. And it was a relevation and a joy to see them being stretched to project this inside out towards the audience. But then again, I might be completely wrong and that is the beauty of this work -- there is no one perspective and it keeps you thinking!

There was only one cast for this work, which makes a world of difference as they have the luxury of letting the choreography seep into their skin. Ariana Lallone performed the lead "creature" in red and is backed up by a stellar cast of a mix of principal and corps dancers. The designers, Glenn Davidson, Mark Zappone (who gets a special mention for "rescuing" my ticket) and Bonnie Beecher, were equal to Dumais' concept and made me want to see this work expanded and performed by Dumais' own company.

The sombre evening began with Val Caniparoli's "The Bridge," inspired by true events surrounding the tragedy of two lovers in war-torn Sarajevo. This work which has been misunderstood by audiences and the press alike offers no poetic arc and instead challenges the audience to witness the emotions and the loss in flowing melancholic passages. Among the five couples Saturday night, Lallone and Christophe Maraval was for me the most expressive.

Even George Balanchine did not offer comfortable refuge for ballet-goers. His "La Valse," staged by Francia Russell, may have started in style and glamour but it too had a dark ending, when the heroine is seduced by death. I managed to catch only two of the four casts: Patricia Barker offered a strikingly stark performance while Carla Korbes had a softer, more innocent charm. As death, Stanko Milov was irresistible Saturday, and Lucien Postlewaite was convincing as the young man in the matinee.

There were so many good performances in the corps, it's hard to mention them all but I will say that Lindsi Dec's artistry seems to be better than ever (she danced in both waltz trio casts).

Speaking of the corps, there is one concern I have though. The programming in general has favored the selection of young, energetic and expressive corps dancers in lead roles, which is great. But if the company wants to excel in the classical and neoclassical works, someone has to make sure the young dancers stay disciplined within the corps.


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