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 Post subject: Pacific Northwest Ballet: Stravinsky 125 (June 2007)
PostPosted: Fri May 25, 2007 9:40 am 
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The final subscription series program of the 2006-07 is subtitled "Stravinsky 125" in honor of the 125th birthday of composer Igor Stravinsky. On the program are works of Balanchine ("Rubies" and "Symphony in Three Movements"), Robbins ("Circus Polka") and Molissa Fenley ("State of Darkness," set to the composer's "Rite of Spring"). The series opens on Thursday, May 31 and concludes on Sunday June 10, 2007. Here is a link to the program information on the PNB website:

Stravinsky 125

In the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Philippa Kiraly interviews PNB Music Director Stewart Kershaw about the program's challenges for the PNB orchestra:

Seattle P-I

In the Seattle Times, Moira Macdonald talks to PNB Artistic Director Peter Boal about Molissa Fenley's "State of Darkness," heretofore performed only by the choreographer and Mr. Boal:

Seattle Times


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PostPosted: Fri May 25, 2007 5:51 pm 
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Casting is now available on the PNB website:

Stravinsky Casting


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 01, 2007 5:44 pm 
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Moira Macdonald reviews the Thursday, May 31, 2007 opening performance of "Stravinsky 125" in the Seattle Times:

Seattle Times


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 04, 2007 10:00 am 
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Alice Kaderlan in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer:

Seattle P-I


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 05, 2007 2:25 pm 
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A Lot of Something for Everyone
Pacific Northwest Ballet
2 June 2007

by Dean Speer

Six memorable events happened for me at Saturday’s evening performance of their Stravinsky 125 program. Four of these were the ballets themselves and two were ancillary – the last performance of Patricia Barker on a repertory program and ditto for me seeing Christophe Maraval, even though he has one more go as the Ring Master in “Circus Polka,” one shot at “Symphony in Three Movements,” and a piece d’occasion – a pas de deux with Louise Nadeau made especially for them by Peter Boal, performed on the last evening of the run.

Mr. Balanchine is quoted as saying he liked to make up a ballet banquet – “...a little something for everyone.” This fare started out with the dessert ballet – Jerome Robbins 1972 “Circus Polka,” moved on to the Gazpacho of “Rubies,” fed us with “State of Darkness” and filled us with Balanchine’s “Symphony in Three Movements.”

Oreo Cookies and Milk

Food is what many of us had on our minds during Jonathan Porretta’s star turn in Molissa Fenley’s “State of Darkness.” I checked with my seat mates to see if I was the only one. Part way through, I got the distinct impression of Oreo Cookies and Milk. For one of the founders of this website, it was choosing between chicken and ham; others felt dehydrated. No small wonder, given not only the approximate 35 minute length but also of the demands made on the solo performer to Stravinsky’s legendary score, “The Rite of Spring.” Porretta deserves not only praise for his singularly impressive rendition but also a pool of cool spring water and a Shiatsu treatment.

This music has attracted a lot of attention, including some unintended attention via the uproar it caused at its premiere – and I wasn’t sure what to expect from Fenley’s creation. I was impressed that it had good structure. She deployed several compositional tools to her advantage. I was equally impressed with her use of “vibratory movement” – something that Martha Graham used in her work, but even at that source today, tends to be overlooked, and as far as I know, is rarely taught in the Graham School. “Vibratory movement” is the tensing of the muscles so hard and much that they start to shake of their own accord. We first saw this as Porretta vibrated his right ankle while kneeling downstage. Fenley later transfers this to other body parts, showing it in different ways.

One of my favorite movement themes for port de bras she invented is what I must call the “Betty Crocker stirring the bowl” – kind of a swinging motion in a reverse figure 8 that led with the elbow. This was repeated throughout.

A superior work that was worthy of our attention – far more than other types of solo fare. The audience leapt to its feet – heartily cheering a deserving Mr. Porretta.

Pretty in Pink

And then, there she was. Center stage framed by corps de ballet and seeming to appear out of nowhere following the opening of “Symphony in Three Movements” – Patricia Barker standing in B+. Poised. Alert. Beautiful. The principal women each have a bright pink (or similar shade) and hers flattered.

I had to tell myself I was seeing her for the last time in a regular repertory performance, yet the performance itself had only the hallmark of good cheer and smart dancing. Barker really seemed to enjoy herself (why not!?) and was totally with the ensemble, never indulging in “this is my last performance” antics or sentiment – right up and through the bows [although I was secretly hoping someone was going to bring in a big bouquet, but I’m sure they’re thinking – oh, that’s for NEXT week (her gala Farewell)]. With this kind of performance, it seems as if she could easily go another 10 years or so.

This ballet is one of Balanchine’s last “big” works and is a testament to his ability to assemble – in an architectural way. While his 1940s “Four Temperaments” seems very contemporary today, it does have an emotional wallop that this piece does not pack. It’s movement for movement’s sake. Thrusting straight arms as an opening theme, he seems to be eschewing ballet’s customary elliptical look of the arms for something else.

The music for the Pas de deux (with Casey Herd and Barker) keeps running through my head [ya, ta-dee-duh, ya, ta-dee-duh, repeated and varied], as does the opening motif of the couple coming toward each other from opposite sides of the stage with undulating arms that eventually do entwine themselves around each other as the couple meet center stage. Each phrase and pose were clear. Never did a flexed foot in supported attitude look better.

Mara Vinson and James Moore were paired well, as were Maria Chapman and Batkhurel Bold. Boal may have discovered some exciting, new partnerships here. Each couple both matched and set off each other, complementing the choreography.

The corps looked great – tight and really “into” the piece. In a hierarchical setting, it’s all too easy to focus on the center dancers – the “stars” – but really each role is equally important and it’s important to recognize the critical contribution the corps makes to the success of a ballet.

One, Hot Tomato

“Rubies” is the cool, spicy course. Long a favorite of dancers, dance companies, and audiences since its 1967 premiere as movement two of the full-length “Jewels,” “Rubies” is snappy, bouncy, exotic, and exciting – all rolled into one dish.

Kaori Nakamura and Olivier Wevers outdid themselves in the duet, getting better and better on every repeat of phrase, showing the sharp phrasing and attack for which this piece is known. Lots of details were worked out and clear: a turn of the head, an offering of a hand and response. These two artists have worked together for many years and it was an exciting performance of a singular heart and artistic mind.

Ariana Lallone delivered the goods in the role of the central “tall girl” part. This is a role that Lallone wraps herself in and where she so calmly, clearly, and cleanly punches out the choreography, there can be no mistake this ballerina is the queen of her consorts.

The very able – and hard-working – PNB Orchestra was alternately conducted by Music Director Stewart Kershaw and company pianist and conductor Allan Dameron.

PNB’s Stravinsky 125 “banquet” is a full-course meal deal and one that proves food is a great socializing mechanism and a good metaphor. We left excited, pleased, and only hungry for future diets of exciting ballets.

_________________
Dean Speer
ballet@u.washington.edu


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 06, 2007 6:17 pm 
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A review in a new online publication, European Weekly, by Erika Wilson:

European Weekly


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 06, 2007 6:37 pm 
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Suzanne Beal reviews the program in the Seattle Weekly:

Seattle Weekly


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 Post subject: State of Darkness
PostPosted: Fri Jun 08, 2007 10:09 am 
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I saw "State of Darkness". danced by R. Foster last night. Its the first time I have seen this performed. What a solo tour de force! Although one could argue that it it is a waste of a large company to put a soloist on state for 30+ minutes ( as I believe people did for a similar solo performance called Mopey ), I would have to disagree. Here is a corps dancer who totally dominated the stage . Granted - most of the PNB corp dancers are effectively soloists in there ability, but I thought this was the perfect showcase to demonstrate to the audience the sheer athleticism of a dancer. I think what was most incredible to me, is there was no tapering off at the end her dance energy or sharpness. I was absolutely stunned and surprised. I know that there is a little bit of a debate about the new artistic director Peter Boals trying out different things, including moving away occasionally from the classical repitoire, but now I know that this is the reason why. She was fabulous - my only regret is that I couldn't see all the other dancers try something similar as a soloist. :D


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 11, 2007 10:25 am 
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R. M. Campbell returned on Friday, June 9, 2007 and reviews the solo performance of James Moore in Molissa Fenley's "State of Darkness."

Seattle P-I


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 25, 2007 12:44 pm 
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I saw the last two shows (Saturday night and Sunday matinee), and it was a mixed program for me. Symphony in 3 movements was the most consistently satisfying, and I really liked both casts I saw. It was also the tightest of the 3 pieces in terms of technique and corps work.

Rubies had its ups and downs. I really liked Noelani Pantastico's turn on Sunday, but I wasn't very impressed with Jodie Thomas on Saturday night. In fact, I really didn't like Saturday night's performance as things looked forced, uncomfortable, and sloppy. Lots of shapes and other things weren't as well articulated. I had just seen LA Ballet do Rubies a couple of weeks before, and found myself preferring its soloists over Saturday night's! The PNB corps of course was much better, but the soloists weren't doing anyone any favors on Saturday night.

The low point of the program was Molissa Fenley's State of Darkness. Choreographically simple-minded and superficial in its musicality, it really depended on the performer to make it interesting. Without taking away from the heroic demands it made and received from both Rachel Foster and Jonathan Porretta, it only worked for me with Foster dancing it. If Porretta was a sledgehammer demolishing a house, Foster's was a surgical analysis of the dance and had more nuances to fascinate the eye. All in all, it seemed like a lot of work with not much payoff.

--Andre


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