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Jonathan Porretta to Perform in Molissa Fenley RetrospectiveDecember 2007 (Rachel Foster, too)


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#1 Helene

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Posted 03 June 2007 - 03:08 PM

There will be a Molissa Fenley retrospective at the Joyce Theater from 11-16 December 2007. Pacific Northwest Ballet is now performing Fenley's 34-minute solo State of Darkness, choreographed to Rite of Spring, as part of the Company's season-closing "Stravinsky 125" program. Three dancers are performing the solo, until now only performed by Fenley herself and Peter Boal: Jonathan Porretta, Rachel Foster, and James Moore.

I've yet to see Foster and Moore, but I can say that Porretta is astonishing in the role. According to the post-performance Q&A last night, with Boal, Fenley, and Porretta, Porretta will dance the role during the Fenley retrospective at the Joyce. I can't recommend this enough for our NYC contingent.

#2 SandyMcKean

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Posted 04 June 2007 - 09:42 PM

Helene is right on. I'd cancel anything except perhaps my own wedding to see this. I saw Jonathan Porretta a couple of nites ago here in Seattle at PNB. It is almost impossible to believe that this great music can be contained with a single solo dancer on stage. But somehow it works. Porretta is as accomplished and precise as it must be to pull this off.......and he does so brilliantly. There were times during his performance that I felt there were only 3 of us in the universe: the music, Porretta, and me. Jonathan has a special way of connecting to an audience with his magnetism and personality. He performs as if he knows everyone in the audience personally, and he "looks you in the eye" as if he were in your living room. He will make you become a fan by his presence.....and in this piece especially you will know you've seen something remarkable. It was simply unforgettable.

#3 carbro

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Posted 04 June 2007 - 10:17 PM

Fenley? :pinch: Really???? I haven't seen much of hers, but what I have seen, . . . well, I haven't seen much for a reason.

After reading the posters to the PNB Stravinsky at 125 thread (thank you!), I have decided to catch this. But remember, your credibility is on the line.

#4 SandyMcKean

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Posted 05 June 2007 - 07:53 AM

I am no expert, but I would rank the three principal variables as: Stravinsky's Rite of Spring, Jonathan Poretta dancing, and Fenley's choreography -- in that order. I know nothing about Fenley except this piece. I am not competent to comment on the quality of her choreography, but the single element of envisioning a long solo to this massive piece of music persuades me to call Fenley's choreography a grand accomplishment in the world of dance. That is enough for me.

Given that foundation, I feel as strongly as I do about going out of your way to see this NYC performance Helene mentions because of the "astonishing" performance Porretta gives (to use Helene's word). I didn't attempt to read into the ballet a theme or even an image, those who look for that may be disappointed. OTOH, it would be worth a 10 mile walk across Manhattan just to see this amazing dancer unleashed.

Beyond all of that, I think one's reaction to this piece (be it: "absolutely amazing", "ho-hum", or "what a waste") will depend primarily on one's relationship to Stravinsky's masterpiece: The Rite of Spring. I have loved this music most of my life. Back in my college days, I would say that the Rite of Spring transformed my relationship to 20th century classical music. I just don't see how one could not be blown away by this performance if you love this music. Done well, and Porretta does it very well indeed, it was for me as if I was watching a vision that Igor himself might have seen in his mind's eye as he wrote this music. It had all the "pagan" quality he said was his inspiration, but yet was completely abstract -- although with a slight whiff of the human struggle from the primative, a slave to his world, to the human spirit, bold and free in command of his world.

#5 Leigh Witchel

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Posted 05 June 2007 - 08:15 AM

Of these three factors I'd say the dancer came first - it was the only thing that salvaged Fenley's work for me. I never could figure out what Peter saw in it. (But then I would have had to ask him why he did MY work, and I probably didn't want to know. . .) :pinch:

#6 SandyMcKean

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Posted 05 June 2007 - 09:08 AM

Clearly Peter sees something in it, not only to have put in the extraordinary effort it must have taken to learn and perform the piece himself, but also to use his position as AD at PNB now to increase the world's population of those who have performed it from 2 to 5.

I suspect you are right about the dancer (the performance) being the deciding factor. That may explain Peter's commitment to it also. At the Q&A after Friday's performance I asked him what it "felt like" mentally/emotionally during and after performing such a piece (the dancer that night, Rachel Foster, was not in the room, so Peter was the only person there I could direct that question to). One comment that sticks in my mind from his reponse was him saying that there is a quiet part (quiet in the sense of the dancing) most of the way thru the piece where the performer essentially sits at the rear of the stage. He said by that time he would be exhausted and mentally spent. He used that time to "recover". He said he loved that feeling: to be totally used up and somehow at peace after having been in such a primative place that Stravinsky's music takes you, but then to know there was one final push yet to come in that wild, "all the stops out" finale.

I suspect his attachment to this piece is all about, as you suggest, the dancer. He wants others to feel that sense of being at peace resulting from having given it your all.......or to say it in my own way (which may have nothing to do with what Peter might say :pinch:).....to feel perhaps the place a Hindu monk must go after a long meditative trance made possible by years of disciplined training and committed execution.

#7 Helene

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Posted 05 June 2007 - 09:12 AM

Fenley created a world for the dancer, and Porretta inhabited it. I thought the piece a relatively gentle response to the music, enough "scope" for a soloist. Anything beyond that would have been overreaching, in my opinion, without the crowd to fuel the frenzy for sacrifice.

#8 Helene

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Posted 07 June 2007 - 10:34 PM

At tonight's post-performance Q&A with Boal, Fenley, and Rachel Foster, who performed the role tonight, Fenley said that there will be two programs at the Joyce, with three performances of State of Darkness, in which Porretta will dance two and Foster one.

#9 drb

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Posted 01 September 2007 - 06:39 AM

At tonight's post-performance Q&A with Boal, Fenley, and Rachel Foster, who performed the role tonight, Fenley said that there will be two programs at the Joyce, with three performances of State of Darkness, in which Porretta will dance two and Foster one.

The Joyce gives their respective performance dates, so you only need to buy two of three to see both performers, as I hope to do. By the way, the last (Foster) performance is selling out quicker, as the Joyce has a bargain-priced Sunday policy.

State of Darkness (Stravinsky), a solo performed by Pacific Northwest Ballet guests Jonathan Porretta (Dec 13, 14) and Rachel Foster (Dec 16)

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The program also includes
Calculus and Politics and Lava Field

#10 Helene

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Posted 07 November 2007 - 09:03 AM

An article in Playbill notes Porretta's and Foster's upcoming (December) performances, but notes that on opening night (not a "State of Darkness" performance), Philip Glass "will play his original compositions for Dreaming Awake and another MFD work, Provenance..."

http://www.playbilla...ticle/7322.html


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