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Vail and PNB


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#1 Leigh Witchel

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Posted 28 December 2006 - 04:59 PM

From today's Links

"Pacific Northwest Ballet is one of the most important companies in the U.S.," Woetzel said. "Since being taken over by Peter Boal, they are the fastest rising company in this country, and they are bringing to Vail an incredible variety of the best ballets ever made."


Wow - I didn't know PNB was in such bad shape under Stowell and Russell. Thank heavens Boal wrested control from them, prying the company from their bony fingers before they did even more damage.

Sheesh. Maybe they should have reworded that.

#2 Helene

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Posted 28 December 2006 - 06:16 PM

And PNB is bringing "an incredible variety of the best ballets ever made," including those by Twyla Tharp, William Forsythe and Nacho Duato, and of course, there was no Forsythe or Duato under Russell and Stowell, either, and they never toured with works by either of these choreographers.

(Where's that sarcasm emoticon when you need it?)

#3 sandik

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Posted 30 December 2006 - 10:13 PM

Golly, this does seem a bit tactless.

My pedantic heart does need to say that the company did not do much touring in the last few years of Stowell and Russell's tenure, primarily for financial reasons (they had two capital campaigns back to back, one for a satellite school and one to help remodel their theater). And while S/R didn't like to tour unless they could take the whole company, Boal has been interested in sending smaller groups, which makes the financial challenge much more manageable.

#4 MCBallet

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Posted 11 November 2007 - 05:58 AM

From today's Links

"Pacific Northwest Ballet is one of the most important companies in the U.S.," Woetzel said. "Since being taken over by Peter Boal, they are the fastest rising company in this country, and they are bringing to Vail an incredible variety of the best ballets ever made."


Wow - I didn't know PNB was in such bad shape under Stowell and Russell. Thank heavens Boal wrested control from them, prying the company from their bony fingers before they did even more damage.

Sheesh. Maybe they should have reworded that.



Do you know what you are talking about? Kent Stowell and Francia Russell made Pacific Northwest Ballet what it is today, along with many supporters and benefactors of the art. Peter Boal happened to be at a time and a place of esteem, in his own right, concerning his career in the ballet world, outside of a NYCB concept. If anything I would think he should privileged and honestly blessed with some divine luck to work with such a company!

#5 chrisk217

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Posted 11 November 2007 - 06:57 AM

From today's Links

"Pacific Northwest Ballet is one of the most important companies in the U.S.," Woetzel said. "Since being taken over by Peter Boal, they are the fastest rising company in this country, and they are bringing to Vail an incredible variety of the best ballets ever made."


Wow - I didn't know PNB was in such bad shape under Stowell and Russell. Thank heavens Boal wrested control from them, prying the company from their bony fingers before they did even more damage.

Sheesh. Maybe they should have reworded that.



Do you know what you are talking about? Kent Stowell and Francia Russell made Pacific Northwest Ballet what it is today, along with many supporters and benefactors of the art. Peter Boal happened to be at a time and a place of esteem, in his own right, concerning his career in the ballet world, outside of a NYCB concept. If anything I would think he should privileged and honestly blessed with some divine luck to work with such a company!

Leigh Witchel is being sarcastic.

#6 SandyMcKean

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Posted 12 November 2007 - 11:07 AM

While I agree that the quote offered in the post that started this thread could have been worded in a more PC fashion, the basic point remains: PNB is undergoing a remarkable tranformation under Peter Boal's direction.

I too am not one to criticize Kent and Francia given the incredible contributions they made. They built this company from nearly nothing to a major company including a highly respected school. I loved every minute I attended performances under their direction (altho I will admit that Kent Stowell's choregraphy often was not to my liking). However, my excitment has doubled and re-doubled after Boal took over. This is not a zero sum game -- I can increase my enthusiasm and respect for what PNB is doing under Boal without detracting from the directors of the company for those previous 25 years.

Make no mistake about it. PNB is a more exciting, relevant, energized, forward-looking, experimental, and vibrant company today than it was just these 2 years ago when Boal took over. It ain't about something Kent and Francia didn't do; it's about what Peter Boal is doing. We have choregraphers we never had before (e.g., Robbins); we have far greater number of more contempory "style" pieces (e.g., Mopley, State of Darkness); we have a new Ballet Festival to showcase newer, less known works and choregraphers; dancers have been freed from a not untypical rigid "caste" structure such that now you are as likley to see a corp member dance a principal role as not -- unimaginable 3 years ago; the dancers are visibly energized and inspired as they more and more have come to realize that they can do more, and do it well, than they ever realized before; and the partnering, ah the partnering, has taken a huge leap. Creating partners is perhaps the one area I would criticize Kent and Francia. Peter Boal has a remarkable talent for putting dancers together in combinations we just never saw before; combinations that take everything to a new level across the board -- for this perhaps more than anything we can thank Peter Poal.

I have to say one last thing. No, it's not Peter Boal who's lucky to have landed at PNB, it is PNB and the Seattle audience that lucked out getting not only an icon of dance to lead this company, but someone who has the vision, instinct for talent, connections, and commitment to take this company beyond what it thought it was. If you haven't been in the Seattle Opera house (McCall Hall) in the last 18 months and felt the atmosphere, seen the blooming of dancer after dancer, and seen the Q&A sessions grow from a scattering of audience members to a room overflowing (as it was yesterday afternoon after a matinee no less), then you can't really know the profound change that has taken place since Boal's arrival..........and I take nothing away from Kent Stowell and Francia Russel when I say that.

#7 MCBallet

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Posted 20 April 2008 - 12:27 AM

While I agree that the quote offered in the post that started this thread could have been worded in a more PC fashion, the basic point remains: PNB is undergoing a remarkable tranformation under Peter Boal's direction.

I too am not one to criticize Kent and Francia given the incredible contributions they made. They built this company from nearly nothing to a major company including a highly respected school. I loved every minute I attended performances under their direction (altho I will admit that Kent Stowell's choregraphy often was not to my liking). However, my excitment has doubled and re-doubled after Boal took over. This is not a zero sum game -- I can increase my enthusiasm and respect for what PNB is doing under Boal without detracting from the directors of the company for those previous 25 years.

Make no mistake about it. PNB is a more exciting, relevant, energized, forward-looking, experimental, and vibrant company today than it was just these 2 years ago when Boal took over. It ain't about something Kent and Francia didn't do; it's about what Peter Boal is doing. We have choregraphers we never had before (e.g., Robbins); we have far greater number of more contempory "style" pieces (e.g., Mopley, State of Darkness); we have a new Ballet Festival to showcase newer, less known works and choregraphers; dancers have been freed from a not untypical rigid "caste" structure such that now you are as likley to see a corp member dance a principal role as not -- unimaginable 3 years ago; the dancers are visibly energized and inspired as they more and more have come to realize that they can do more, and do it well, than they ever realized before; and the partnering, ah the partnering, has taken a huge leap. Creating partners is perhaps the one area I would criticize Kent and Francia. Peter Boal has a remarkable talent for putting dancers together in combinations we just never saw before; combinations that take everything to a new level across the board -- for this perhaps more than anything we can thank Peter Poal.

I have to say one last thing. No, it's not Peter Boal who's lucky to have landed at PNB, it is PNB and the Seattle audience that lucked out getting not only an icon of dance to lead this company, but someone who has the vision, instinct for talent, connections, and commitment to take this company beyond what it thought it was. If you haven't been in the Seattle Opera house (McCall Hall) in the last 18 months and felt the atmosphere, seen the blooming of dancer after dancer, and seen the Q&A sessions grow from a scattering of audience members to a room overflowing (as it was yesterday afternoon after a matinee no less), then you can't really know the profound change that has taken place since Boal's arrival..........and I take nothing away from Kent Stowell and Francia Russel when I say that.



I have to dissagree......and I take nothing away from Peter Boal, but anyone who was to land the job af Artistic Director of PNB, with all of the dancers who are, in my opinion, incredible examples of the ideals of ballet, is nothing but lucky.

#8 MCBallet

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Posted 20 April 2008 - 12:28 AM

[ :)

#9 Helene

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Posted 20 April 2008 - 05:40 AM

In my opinion, one representative of a new generation of artistic directors who were former colleagues is speaking exaggeratedly of another in service of his fledging summer festival that he has to prove is no single-season curiosity and is sustainable.

Might also serve as karmic retribution for Russell/Stowell being named "Founding Artistic Directors" when that it not accurate, although it's laughable to suggest that Boal "invented" Duato and Forsythe for PNB, especially when PNB performed "Jardi Tancat" at City Center during the last tour of NYC in the 90's, right in Woetzel's own back yard.

sandik makes two very important points about touring at PNB: Russell/Stowell did not like to tour with a partial troupe. Boal has no problem with this, or, for that matter, creating a little social/professional sub-group of dancers, like he did with Foster, Moore, and Porretta last year in "State of Darkness," where they all spoke of the special, intense bond they shared by performing the marathon-like solo.

The other is money: not only were Russell/Stowell involved with the capital campaign for McCaw Hall and the retrofit the Mercer Arena into a performing venue during the almost two years in "exile," that stint in Mercer Arena took a huge toll on the company finances, creating a deficit that the company is very lucky to have cleared during the beginning of the downturn in the economy and the post dot-bomb and post-stock-option fundraising drought.

Russell/Stowell wanted to retire two years before they did, but postponed their retirements long enough to ensure the transition into McCaw Hall and for the company to return to solid financial footing. If Russell/Stowell retired two years before, what is the likelihood that Peter Boal would even have been a candidate, and, by his own admission (in several Q&A's), a last one at that? (He flew in on the day of the deadline to hand-deliver his application, and was busted when a former student, retiring dancer Brittany Reid, spotted him and pointed him out to the rest of the company taking class.)

It was serendipity created of generosity that brought the gem that we have now together.


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