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Helene

Sleeping Beauty

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The cast lists for Sleeping Beauty Week 1 and Aurora/Desire pairings for Week 2 are up on the PNB website.

Aurora/Desire:

Nakamura/Wevers: Thurs, 13 April, 7:30 pm and Sun, 16 April, 1pm

Pantastico/Stanton: Fri, 14 April, 7:30 pm and Sat, 22 April, 1pm*

Imler/Bold: Sat, 15 April, 1pm* and Sat, 22 Apr, 7:30pm

Barker/Milov: Sat, 15 April, 7:30pm and Thurs, 20 April, 7:30pm

Vinson/Yin: Fri, 21 April, 7:30pm and Sun, 23 April, 1pm

*Note 1pm start. (Saturday matinees usually begin at 2pm.)

In Week 1:

Lilac Fairies are: Imler (with Nakamura), Lowenberg (with Pantastico), Korbes (with Imler), Lallone (with Barker)

Carabosse: Timothy Lynch and Olivier Wevers

Bluebird Pairs: Thomas/Poretta, Vinson/Yin, Chapman/Pankevich

Silver: Imler, Korbes, Vinson

Fairies: Korbes, Gilbreath, Eames, Dec, Foster, Vinson, Johnston, Rausch, Zimmerman, Reid, Thomas, Lowenberg, Pantastico, Chapman

Fleming Halby, who is retiring this year from the school, is performing as Gallison.

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Seems like a lot of dancers are getting a chance at the leads. Of the Auroras, I've seen only Barker on stage (not in Sleeping Beauty). Is this degree of multiple casting standard at PNB -- or is is something Boal has brought in or expanded? What do Seattle regulars think about the policy? How much does the regular audience care about or respond to casting? With subscribers, is there any negative feedback when they're assigned a less experienced (or known) cast ad not one of the stars?

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In the past it's gone both ways in terms of casting -- there have been programs where there have only been a couple of casts for main parts (the new Dominique Dumais in the last program had only one cast for all performances -- a logistical thing), and then we have programs like this, with 5 Auroras. When the company came back to a significantly remodeled (and renamed) McCaw Hall in the autumn of 2003 with a new production of Swan Lake, they had 5 Odettes, which didn't feel like a stunt, but more like a special event. I was very curious when I heard they were having so many Auroras here, but they have some women who have certainly "earned" the role, as well as others they are bringing up. It's been a balancing act for many years, and Stowell and Russell worked hard at it, especially moving younger dancers into new parts.

Part of the audience does follow individual performers, and is pleased to see them move into new roles. And some people like to look in the corps for the next new thing. I don't know that too many people get frustrated because a favorite doesn't get multiple performances, though I wish sometimes that I could see that maturation process within one program. Often, though, if I have a chance to see a certain program multiple times, I'll try to see as many different people in it as I can, rather than the same cast over again, especially if I'm reviewing.

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One of the things Boal said in a Q&A after one of the Valentine programs is that in a full-length story ballet, there are a limited number of principal dancing roles. In Sleeping Beauty, there are six: Aurora, Desire, Bluebird, Princess Florine, Lilac Fairy, and Silver (in the Wedding act), and that's stretching it.

When NYCB does a two-week run of a ballet, that is 14 performances. It is possible to have three dancers do four each, with the other two by another one or two dancers. When PNB does a two-week run of a program, there are ten performances. With 13 active Principal Dancers and 5 active soloists, giving two casts of dancers four performances each leaves a lot of dancers with nothing to dance in the programs, unless they dance the "growth" roles, which takes opportunities away from the corps.

I'm not sure that three performances is necessarily that much better than two, in terms of role growth, but I may be mistaken. It seems to me like a very good strategy to give five casts the opportunity to dance such iconic roles, if they can't offer a solid run for multiple dancers. Some of the dancers may have had opportunities to perform the roles with other companies, so they are not coming into the ballets cold.

I, personally, like to see multiple casts, to see what each cast brings to the stage. I know some people have multiple subscriptions, but I don't know if they accept the casts as is, or if they use ticket exchange privileges to get a cast they prefer (new or repeat). I have one subscription that I share with a friend, and I schedule for other casts with single tickets. I also don't know what percentage of people go for the date vs. the performers.

The Practical: I suspect many parents will attend one of the four matinees with their children, unless their child must see Patricia Barker. (Who, taking her career one year at a time, might be dancing her last performances of the role, depending on when the production will be revived next.) Except during University of Washington football season, traffic tends to be much more reasonable for matinees, especially coming from the East Side, and for Seattle residents who have unreliable evening commutes.

The Cast-Driven: Leave early and often to see a specific cast.

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I've been involved with PNB for about 12 years and during that time most full-lengths have had a least 4 cast of principals and often 5 or 6. The new Aurora this time around is Mara Vinson. Louise Nadeau has danced the role in the past but opted not to this time. She is coaching Kaori Nakamura and Olivier Wevers. I expect next year's Swan Lake will have at least five casts.

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Request from New York for detailed reporting on Körbes' Lilac Fairy performances, please.

We miss her.

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Come to think of it, when NYCB first premiered Peter Martins' production of Sleeping Beauty, there was a Dance Magazine feature article with a photo of the five ballerinas who would dance Aurora, which I think was over a two-week span. I also seem to remember that one was unable to dance the role because of injury.

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Thanks for all your replies to my questions. Casting is such an interesting issue -- and one which is probably among the most difficult and controversial for a company leader.

When Miami does Giselle and Don Quijote this coming season, they'll have 14-15 performances of each, but in 4 different cities in our area. Usually one weekend of 3-5 performances in each place. Typically the 4-5 performances at West Palm will involve (for example) 3-4 principal Giselles/Albrecht pairs.

If I can be indulged for another question: what are your thoughts about the PNB Sleeping Beauty production? Anything noteworthy, controversial, or just plain special about it?

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doug will be doing a preview of Sleeping Beauty at the Central Library in downtown Seattle:

The Seattle Public Library will host a preview of the Pacific Northwest Ballet's (PNB) "The Sleeping Beauty" program from noon to 1 p.m. Tuesday, April 11 at the Central Library, 1000 Fourth Ave., Microsoft Auditorium, Level 1.

This program is free and everyone is welcome. Registration is not required. Parking for one to two hours will be available for $6 in the Central Library parking garage.

Doug Fullington, PNB education programs manager, will provide an informal, video-illustrated lecture on the "The Sleeping Beauty," program, which the ballet will perform from Thursday, April 13 to Sunday, April 23 at Marion Oliver McCaw Hall, 321 Mercer St.

http://www.spl.org/default.asp?pageID=bran...d=1143046974384

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I, personally, like to see multiple casts, to see what each cast brings to the stage........I have one subscription that I share with a friend, and I schedule for other casts with single tickets. I also don't know what percentage of people go for the date vs. the performers.

Just to add my 2 cents. I have been a ballet fan for 40 years (20 at PNB). I operate exactly like Helene. My wife and I have subscription tickets, but I frequently go on my own a 2nd time specifically to see a 2nd cast. I almost never go a 2nd time to see the same cast (tho many times I'd like to be able to do that too). I just find it so much fun and educational to see different dancers in the same role.

OTOH, since "Time and Other Matters" in the last program had only 1 cast (highly unusual, and done because Dumas didn't have the time or the inclination to work with a 2nd cast -- according to the Q&A session), I saw the same cast in that twice. My tickets were such that my first performance was on the 2nd nite, and the 2nd performance was the last matinee, so there was about 2 weeks between performances. WOW, did I see a difference! Of course it was a new and difficult work with roles created specifically for those individual dancers (wasn't the role for Arianna perfect for her!), so that in itself is unusual, but I could plainly see how the dancers had "grown into" the roles. That was cool too. So I guess it can work both ways.

Also in my experience, ballet afficiandos (sp?) love to watch individual dancers and track their progress over the years. I rarely talk to another "ballet lover" without us talking individual dancers. I think there are a lot of ballet goers who feel that way. OTOH, I suspect most folks who can only go once, choose an evening based on their schedules rather than the cast that nite. Subscribers of course have no choice.

P.S. For this time around my subscription tickets demand that I see Pantastico/Stanton, but say what you will, my favorite dancer is Carrie Imler (altho I have lots of other "favorites" too :dry: ), so my 2nd performance will no doubt be Imler/Bold.

Edited by SandyMcKean

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By all accounts PNB has loads of talent at the top, so it makes sense to have a variety of casts and to want to see more than one cast. At the moment in NYC we have the peculiar situation of Ashley Bouder, who blows you away with her first performances, then delivers second performances that are totally different and better! Hence, the need to see the same "first" cast twice. Are any of the PNB stars like this? ( Long ago, Makarova was known for always changing interpretations, and Farrell rewarded repeat performance watchers. But I've never seen anything as extreme as Bouder.) Great dancers seem to fall into two camps: those who polish and refine a role, and those who reinvent it each time. How would the various PNB stars place in this dichotomy?

Not being one who "travels well", PLEASE Mr. Boal, and PLEASE imbiciles who decide who gets to play in NYC, bring this wonderful company to NYC!

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Where is Kylee Kitchens? Is she injured? I certainly hope not.
Kitchens was in the corps of La Valse in the "Points of View" program, and in Jonathan Porretta's Jubilant and Kiyon Gaines' {SCHWA} in the Choreographers' Showcase on 22 March. She's not listed for the first week of Sleeping Beauty, but the second week hasn't been announced yet.

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At the moment in NYC we have the peculiar situation of Ashley Bouder, who blows you away with her first performances, then delivers second performances that are totally different and better! Hence, the need to see the same "first" cast twice. Are any of the PNB stars like this?
Because I strategize to see as many casts as possible, and PNB only plays over two weekends, I don't have as much experience with this. I did notice that the first and last performances I saw Ariana Lallone do in Red Angels were very different: the second was much more dynamic than the first. I also thought the dynamic between James Moore and Maria Chapman in Sinatra Suite was different in tone both times I saw it, and that some of the partnering in general can be a little more smooth in subsequent performances.

One of the things I've noticed about PNB -- and Ballet Arizona for that matter -- is that because of the performance format of dancing one program at a time, the dancers are relatively focused at any given time on comparatively fewer roles than in a company like NYCB. Plus, there are a lot fewer pieces with corps. For example, in the first and last rep program, there was a large corps in only one ballet. In the second to last program, there was a small corps in Ancient Airs and Dances.

While the dancers may be learning and rehearsing roles for future programs, and over the course of the season working on fellow dancers' ballets in the choreography workshop, in performances, they get to focus on one program at a time. My experience has been, when the curtain goes up every month or every other month for two extended weekends, they are ready, and come out focused and flying. The dancers may be longing for the end of Nutcracker or for summer break, but I don't remember them ever looking like they did.

Not being one who "travels well", PLEASE Mr. Boal, and PLEASE imbiciles who decide who gets to play in NYC, bring this wonderful company to NYC!
Hopefully this will happen and in a venue that's more audience-friendly than City Center, where the last NYC performances took place.

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This is kind of off-topic on a PNB Sleeping Beauty site, but two great points that have been made raised questions for me.

At the moment in NYC we have the peculiar situation of Ashley Bouder, who blows you away with her first performances, then delivers second performances that are totally different and better! Hence, the need to see the same "first" cast twice. Are any of the PNB stars like this? ( Long ago, Makarova was known for always changing interpretations, and Farrell rewarded repeat performance watchers. But I've never seen anything as extreme as Bouder.) Great dancers seem to fall into two camps: those who polish and refine a role, and those who reinvent it each time. How would the various PNB stars place in this dichotomy?

I also would love to know who at PNB falls into the "reinvent a role" category at PNB. And who at other companies as well. With Farrell, for instance, I wonder if it was really reinventing. Maybe it was a process of revealling deeper and deeper levels, rather like peeling the onion skin. There was so much there to see, that you could not see it all at once. You were always surprised and captivatad by something that appeared, apprently new, at each performance. But it pobably had been there all along.

One of the things I've noticed about PNB -- and Ballet Arizona for that matter -- is that because of the performance format of dancing one program at a time, the dancers are relatively focused at any given time on comparatively fewer roles than in a company like NYCB. Plus, there are a lot fewer pieces with corps.

This appears to be the pattern at other regional companies. Miami, certainly. Do any other regionals do it differently? The ability to focus is certainly an advantage. I wonder, though, how the dancers feel about this as opposed to an NYCB situation where they are moving in and out of roles more frequently. Are there dancers who prefer to concentrate on a few roles at a time, as oposed to dancers who love to move constantly from one to another?

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Yes Bart, you've found two OT (since they could apply to any dancers, not just the PNB stars) threads here which perhaps you or some clever moderator might be able to start up as individual topics:

A. Dancers who grow roles by 1. refining and polishing (I'd site McKerrow and Kirkland as examples), 2. reinventing (Bouder), and 3. onion-peeling (revealing new layers of depth --as you say, Farrell). Perhaps these last two are facets of some more encompassing way of describing what they do.

B. Two ways of handling mixed rep programs, that also may relate to how dancers perform (concentration of focus vs. dialectic of variety) : 1. replicated programming (variety via casting changes, typical of PNB, ABT and many more) vs. 2. heterogeneous programming, in which the ballets are presented in varying combinations (NYCB paradigm).

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This appears to be the pattern at other regional companies. Miami, certainly. Do any other regionals do it differently?
When working on the calendar, carbro and I went through dozens of company calendars. I can't think of a single company in the US [Edited to Add: besides NYCB] other than ABT in its fall season that does a rep season. SFB, and Ballet Arizona (for the Balanchine programs) have a tiny bit of hybrid, in which two fixed programs are given over the same period.

Most of the major companies in Europe are on a rep schedule, alternating with opera performances. When they perform triple bill programs, they tend to be fixed programs more than not. While rep still has its challenges for rehearsal and focus, the opera does give many of the dancers little performance breathers, although they might have rehearsals scheduled for that time.

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Great dancers seem to fall into two camps: those who polish and refine a role, and those who reinvent it each time. How would the various PNB stars place in this dichotomy?

I'm afraid such a question is well beyond my modest powers of distinction. I feel lucky to be able to "see" the differences btwn various dancers in the same role at all, much less be in a position to tell you why I respond differently.

Years ago I used to live in San Francisco (where I saw my first ballet on a whim while in college -- I was changed forever :) ). ABT, Joffery, and other companies used to come regularly, and I saw them all, sometimes every nite of the week. Then perhaps I could distinguish the "styles" of a company, or the quality of a company. But now I pretty much only see PNB, so I have little to compare to. Perhaps PNB is a ho-hum company to true experts, I have no idea......all I know is that I love them, and believe I've seen the company get better and better over the years. I suspect I am just spoiled by PNB and don't know any better.

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Hello there. I am new to this site but not new to the ballet world. I have lived on the East Coast as well as the West coast and in Europe for a few years also. I must say that I absolutely LOVE this company...PNB ! They are all excellent dancers ! There is so much talent!! One most outstanding is Jonathan Porretta ! He just never ceases to amaze me! I think this company is one of the best if not the greatest ballet company worldwide.

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Welcome to Ballet Talk, sky blue. I'm very happy to have another transplant to Seattle on the board to discuss PNB!

Please introduce yourself on the Welcome Forum when you have a chance by clicking "New Topic" from the top right of the forum, and we're looking forward hearing what you think of Sleeping Beauty.

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From Moira Macdonald's essay on Louise Nadeau coaching Sleeping Beauty (rather than dancing Aurora again) A viewpoint on the shifting casting we were discussing above.

"It was a difficult choice to make," she says. "But I thought, you know, I've done it, I enjoyed it when I did it. I didn't really feel that I had to prove anything to anyone. And I thought, do I really want to take up the space, and not allow someone else the opportunity?"

(can see whole article through links for Tuesday 4/11)

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and forgot to say that all of second week casting is up on the website now.

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A couple of more corps women are cast as fairies: Zimmerman and Brunson. Apprentice Leanne Larsen is dancing Little Red Riding Hood in week 2.

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Request from New York for detailed reporting on Körbes' Lilac Fairy performances, please.

We miss her.

Just to set expectations, Lilac Fairy is a very small dancing role -- a single solo -- and a lot of mime and casting spells with what looks like a purple feather duster. Especially since in this production (Hynd) Desire is not the brightest bulb in the chandelier, and Lilac Fairy has to lead him by the nose.

It's too late for me to do a full write-up tonight, but just a few highlights, not meant to be all-inclusive: Kaori Nakamura was a brilliant Aurora, Körbes was superb as the Fairy of Beauty and as Silver in the Gold and Silver pas de trois in the Wedding Act, and Maria Chapman had a great evening in three very different roles: Fairy of Purity in the Prologue, the Countess in Act II, and the White Cat in Act III.

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Maria Chapman had a great evening in three very different roles: Fairy of Purity in the Prologue, the Countess in Act II, and the White Cat in Act III.

Didn't she just -- she's been slowly and carefully developing for quite some time, and we are getting to see some very lovely work from her lately.

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