Preview of Alexei Ratmansky’s “Concerto DSCH”
Pacific Northwest Ballet, 7 July 2010
by Dean Speer
I was impressed by his English. I was impressed by his working demeanor. I was impressed by the concentration and focus of the dancers. I was impressed by how much he got done. I was impressed by the choice of composer. I was very impressed with the choreography.
One of ballet’s newest “it” choreographers [joining the pantheon along with Wheeldon, McIntyre and the usual suspects], Alexei Ratmansky was at PNB in early July for three days to stage his “Concerto DSCH” on the company.
Observing from afar, sitting in the balcony above Studio C, PNB’s largest studio, it took me a minute to spot Ratmansky as he blends in so well with the dancers – age, still in good shape, and his English is quite good and rather unaccented. He’s also one of those calm types who can get more work accomplished with a quiet tone and well-placed comment than most.
Ever since I heard Shostakovich’s “Age of Gold,” I’ve been a sucker for his music. It’s great he’s using Piano Concerto No. 2. I got to see the work of the setting of the last movement and his double checking to ensure the dancers, staff (ballet masters) and others had ‘it’ – his intent and that they were clear on patterns and steps. They then did the first, middle and most of the concluding movement straight through with pianist and acting music director and conductor Allan Dameron playing the solo part and Christina Siemens a piano reduction of the orchestra’s part.
I was particularly struck how well he uses motifs, how inventive yet disciplined his work is – he also is able, and this is no small feat, to move large groups around effectively.
The middle adagio section is quite lovely – he uses an overhead lift with the ballerina laying prone on her side while being slowly turned like a disco ball while other dancers swirl below.
I very much look forward to seeing the final product onstage during the ensuing season.