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 Post subject: Pacific Northwest Ballet: Swan Lake
PostPosted: Sat Sep 13, 2003 12:18 pm 
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To inaugurate the first season in Marion Oliver McCaw Hall, Pacific Northwest Ballet will open with a new production of Swan Lake on Thursday, September 25, 2003. The costume shop has been at work for months on preparing new costumes. Here is an interview with PNB Costume Shop Director Larae Theige Hascall by Melinda Bargreen in The Seattle Times:

http://archives.seattletimes.nwsource.com/cgi-bin/texis.cgi/web/vortex/display?slug=behind070&date=20030907


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 Post subject: Re: Pacific Northwest Ballet: Swan Lake
PostPosted: Sat Sep 13, 2003 1:39 pm 
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Here is a direct link to information about Swan Lake performances on the PNB website, including a stunning black and white photo of Patricia Barker by Ben Kerns:

http://www.pnb.org/season/swanlake.html


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 Post subject: Re: Pacific Northwest Ballet: Swan Lake
PostPosted: Wed Sep 17, 2003 12:17 pm 
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Casting is now available for the first week of Swan Lake, September 25-28:

http://www.pnb.org/season/swanlake-casting.html


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 Post subject: Re: Pacific Northwest Ballet: Swan Lake
PostPosted: Wed Sep 17, 2003 1:10 pm 
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On Tuesday evening, September 16, I attended a panel discussion featuring the five ballerinas who will perform Odette/Odile in the current performance run of Swan Lake. Moderated by Doug Fullington, the panel included Patricia Barker, Carrie Imler, Louise Nadeau, Kaori Nakamura and Noelani Pantastico. They bring a wide range of experience and perspective to their interpretation of Odette/Odile. This is the third time around for Ms. Barker (who performed the roles in 1992 and 1996); the second for Ms. Nadeau (1996); and the first for Ms. Nadeau and Ms. Pantastico. Ms. Nakamura performed only the Black Swan with Royal Winnipeg in 1994; however, she performed both roles when she was 15 in Japan.

While the bulk of the time was spent on describing, from each individual's perspective, character and plot details (e.g., "Describe who you think Odette is;" "How does she communicate to Siegfried who she is;" "How do you connect with your partner?" "Do the variations further the character development or story line?" "What happens at the end?") the more telling questions came toward the end of the discussion.

Asked whether they felt more suited to Odette or Odile, Carrie Imler immediately responded that she felt much more at home with Odile. Moelani Pantastico, a first-timer, identifies with the character of Odette and feels far less comfortable with the character presented by Odile. Kaori Nakamura indicated that, when she was 15 and last performed both Odette and Odile, she was immediately more comfortable with Odile because it involved clear-cut technical challenges, while Odette was more ephemeral. However, she now likes the challenges of character development presented by Odette and feels much more ready for the role than earlier in her career. Louise Nadeau also used to like Odile better, but now feels just the opposite. Patricia Barker indicated that she thinks that everyone can find aspects of both characters somewhere in their experience and it becomes a matter of tapping into that reserve where the experience resides. She continues to find Odette to be the greater challenge.

Mr. Fullington asked how they felt about the 32 fouettes and whether they were really essential to the role, or whether other combinations of steps might be just as effective. Happily, everyone responded that they felt it was essential to rise to the occasion and the challenge of the 32 fouettes and some expressed agreement with Pierina Legnani's choice to add them in the 1895 version as an expression of Odile's steely resolve. There was also general acknowledgement that not to do them would prove a great disappointment to the expectations of many in the audience -- including those of us who *always* count each fouette.

A question about Aurora vs. Odette/Odile (and which is the greater challenge) resulted in consensus that Aurora, while a tremendous challenge in terms of technical purity, remains a rather flat character without much dramatic involvement or development. The big attraction with Odette/Odile is the chance at character development and drama, with the "creature" aspect of the swan as an additional challenge not found in other roles. Everyone agreed that the character is anything but static and the layers of meaning and the interpretive possibilities are what makes this ballet worth returning to again and again.


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 Post subject: Re: Pacific Northwest Ballet: Swan Lake
PostPosted: Wed Sep 17, 2003 5:35 pm 
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Thanks for the report, Francis. Did Patricia Barker get specific about why she considers Odette to be more of a challenge?


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 Post subject: Re: Pacific Northwest Ballet: Swan Lake
PostPosted: Thu Sep 18, 2003 9:31 am 
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From my notes on Patricia Barker's comments:

On one level, it is the challenge of being, first, a swan who transforms into a woman who is then fearful, defensive and trying to escape, then becoming emotionally vulnerable. Showing all of those transformations. Making a difference between the Act 2 and Act 4 pas de deux. Following the sadness and resignation of the Act 4 pas de deux with a retransformation into a swan.

Odette is all about character development, nuance and subtlety -- all of which require baring your emotional soul to the audience. There is no "hiding behind technique" possible. In order for the performance to be a success, the audience must see all of these transformations in Odette's character.


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 Post subject: Re: Pacific Northwest Ballet: Swan Lake
PostPosted: Thu Sep 18, 2003 11:01 am 
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I attended a studio rehearsal of Acts 1, 2 and 4 on Wednesday, September 17. Board Chair Cathi Hatch announced that the dancers are donating their opening night salaries to the PNB general operating fund. Ariana Lallone and Olivier Wevers were thanked for spearheading the fundraising and production coordination of "Eleven," the photo book of the eleven PNB principals which will debut at the Opening Night performance of Swan Lake.

Kent Stowell spoke briefly regarding the history of Swan Lake in the repertory of U.S. companies, noting that until ABT's 1966 production, most companies had limited themselves to Act 2. The choreography for the current PNB production began its development while Kent and Francia were still in Frankfurt. It has been produced at intervals since 1981. The sets (by Ming Cho Lee) and costumes (by Paul Tazewell) are entirely new this year. Some choreography has been revised, particularly in Act 1, where a corps of peasants has been recast as part of a court hunting party reset en pointe.

The opening night cast performed for this invited audience, comprised largely of donors and trustees. The corps, a mix of regular corps members and PNB School Professional Division students, performed exceptionally well. In the first act Pas de Trois, Noelani Pantastico was impressive for her musicality; in her variation, every toe hop was precisely placed in time with the music. Le Yin was afforded the opportunity to display his remarkable elevation. Jodie Thomas was impressive for her port de bras and epaulement in her variation. As the Jester, Jonathan Porretta is, as always, remarkable for his speed and intensity. Paul Gibson has a star turn as Wolfgang, the Prince's tutor. Paul will only be appearing in a couple of performances during the first week of the run, as he is leaving to participate in the New York Choreographic Institute at NYCB during the latter part of the run.

As Odette, Patricia Barker is at the top of her form. Regal, statuesque, yet amazingly flexible and able to convey apprehension and vulnerability. Her partnership with Stanko Milov continues to develop as they meld their diverse array of experiences. Stanko would benefit from a more deliberate -- more regal, more princely -- bearing in the action sections. On several occasions he ran through his "stage business" too quickly for the music and needed to improvise filler. More experience with straight run-through rehearsals (and performances) should help him gain a better perspective on timing.

The Cygnets -- Chalnessa Eames, Rachel Foster, Tempe Ostergren and Kara Zimmerman -- are well aligned in height and timing. The three "big" swans -- Carrie Imler, Maria Chapman, Stacey Lowenberg -- all have magnificent elevation.

The rehearsal clock ran out before the fourth act could be completed, although we did have the opportunity to see through the end of the Pas de Deux.

I am very much looking forward to the new sets and costumes in the new hall next week.


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 Post subject: Re: Pacific Northwest Ballet: Swan Lake
PostPosted: Fri Sep 19, 2003 10:15 am 
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Preview pieces have appeared in the Friday arts supplement in both Seattle dailies.

From Alice Kaderlan Halsey in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer:

http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/classical/140236_pnb19.html

and from Mary Murfin Bayley in the Seattle Times:

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/artsentertainment/2001735581_swan190.html


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 Post subject: Re: Pacific Northwest Ballet: Swan Lake
PostPosted: Sun Sep 21, 2003 12:31 am 
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I caught brief preview segments of the new "Swan Lake" at the gala tonight. The one set I saw was "wicked," as one dancer described it. And the dancers in general seem to look forward very much to dancing it, which is always a good sign.

I wasn't planning to fly back up here to catch it but I felt my arm being twisted all night. Well, the preview I saw was incredibly enticing.


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 Post subject: Re: Pacific Northwest Ballet: Swan Lake
PostPosted: Sun Sep 21, 2003 8:02 pm 
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Thanks, Francis, for your reviews and especially for the one of the studio rehearsal. I attended the Thursday night studio rehearsal, but we only got to see acts 2 and 4. But Noelani Pantastico danced Odette, so I didn't miss the other two acts too much. I've said before that Noelanie has a smile that can melt granite. In this case though, she put on a pained expression that one would expect of Odette under the circumstances, but it was still a pleasure to see her dance again. It appears that Swan Lake is going to be a big success, not only artistically (that's a given with PNB), but financially as well. I bought some extra tickets for some friends of mine who don't normally attend ballet and four of the tickets are in the second row on the main floor off to one side (not in the center 12 to 15 rows back as I'd requested). That's in spite of my ordering the tickets less than one hour after they became available to subscribers. Two of my friends wanted "cheap seats" and will be some where in the second tier along the side at the front of the house. The ticket office told me that they had originally blocked off those seats and didn't plan to sell them, but changed their mind when they ran out of seats to sell for that performance. That's a nice problem to have.

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 Post subject: Re: Pacific Northwest Ballet: Swan Lake
PostPosted: Sun Sep 21, 2003 8:28 pm 
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Thanks for that personal preview, Roger. I do hope you will post your impressions after the performance.


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 Post subject: Re: Pacific Northwest Ballet: Swan Lake
PostPosted: Sun Sep 21, 2003 9:09 pm 
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Francis's wonderful previews have been put in our Features sections...you might want to check them out as we've also included a couple of images from the upcoming production:

Features index


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 Post subject: Re: Pacific Northwest Ballet: Swan Lake
PostPosted: Mon Sep 22, 2003 10:42 am 
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Thank you, Roger, for your notes on the Thursday night studio rehearsal. I had originally been invited to attend that rehearsal, was then disinvited when they rapidly ran out of space, but was offered Wednesday night instead. A very nice problem to have donors who are so eager to attend studio rehearsals! I hope to catch one of Noe's performances sometime over the course of the run.


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 Post subject: Re: Pacific Northwest Ballet: Swan Lake
PostPosted: Tue Sep 23, 2003 8:35 am 
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Two more preview pieces from area newspapers. Mike Murray in the Everett Herald:

http://www.heraldnet.com/ae/story.cfm?file=03091917491254.cfm

and Carole Beers in the King County Journal:

http://www.kingcountyjournal.com/sited/story/html/143791


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 Post subject: Re: Pacific Northwest Ballet: Swan Lake
PostPosted: Mon Sep 29, 2003 9:35 am 
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A review:

Quote:
Pacific Northwest Ballet was hoping for a hit to open its inaugural season in McCaw Hall and it has one in its new "Swan Lake."
'Swan Lake' is a feast for the senses

<small>[ 29 September 2003, 11:38 AM: Message edited by: DavidH ]</small>


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