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.