Helene

Apollo/Carmina Burana

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Selfishly sad -- it's hard to begrudge a move that's brought them the opportunities they deserve.

I have to say that's how I feel about Postlewaite leaving -- I know this is a great adventure for him, but I'll miss seeing it...

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Some notes from Saturday's Q&A:

William Lin-Yee was the guest after the matinee. He had performed the Monk in the "In Taberna" section of "Carmina Burana," and Boal said that Kent Stowell really liked him in the role and wanted him to dance it. (He was really fine in it: he approaches roles like a smaller, faster dancer, but his movement can be very plush, and he gave the role pathos.)

The session was on the short side: it was a gorgeous day and a non-subscription audience, which might have been unaware of it or didn't know what to expect.

When asked when he knew he wanted to dance, he said it was at 12, but that he started at 7. His mom took him and his younger brother to the studio when she was taking an adult ballet class, and she told him after class that she was having trouble with the brise. He demonstrated the step for her, having absorbed it by watching the class. She then put him in class.

He was asked by, I think, the same man who sits up front and asks everyone this question: "What are your favorite roles and what are you looking forward to performing next season?" He said that every opportunity is a good one, and that he enjoys dancing in general. He mentioned "One Flat Thing Reproduced", but he also likes classical ballets. Boal then praised him for "Sechs Tanze". He said he doesn't consider himself "princely" and looks forward to von Rothbart next season. He likes to play the bad guys and is hoping to learn Tybalt.

When asked about staging, he said no, but that if he were to choreograph, he'd want to think about it a lot before he did it. Boal then talked about the opportunities company members have to choreograph for the Professional Division students and how there are usually more volunteers than the program can use. (Next season, a number of company members who started in the workshop, now called "Next Step", will have premieres in the new works program for PNB.)

Boal spoke about staging "Apollo" in general, and he said while he knew his former role inside and out, he went to video for specifics about the muses. He said it much harder to stage what he hasn't danced.

Boal was asked about how NYCB dancers have come to PNB. He said that all approached him, and that he doesn't believe in approaching a dancer under contract. He said that contracts are offered yearly on 1 March, that dancers respond by 31 March so that he knows the roster on 1 April, but that he rarely doesn't offer a contract to an existing company member. Lin-Yee said he danced with two of Orza's brothers, including a twin, at San Francisco Ballet School, but met Seth Orza at SAB.

Boal was also asked about how ballet companies rank in the US. He said that the top three are usually considered to be ABT, NYCB, and San Francisco Ballet, with six companies, PNB among them, claiming to be fourth. (I know it's safe to consider ABT in the bunch, but having seen ABT recently, I wouldn't count it among the top three. I also wouldn't be heartbroken if Marcelo Gomes had an urge to join PNB.)

Saturday night was Lucien Postlewaite, who had danced "Apollo". He had all of "Carmina" to relax and get ready, and he wore his very spiffy gold sneakers. I was writing very quickly, and there are a few things where I don't remember who said what, but this is what I could get down, since it was more a conversation than the usual Q&A format:

Boal on Postlewaite's "Apollo": he made really good choices. Postlewaite talked about the huge difference between working with orchestra, and as great as the rehearsal accompanist were with the piano scores, it was a totally different experience. Boal said that often the strings, which the piano can't replicate, give Apollo the clues about what he is feeling in the moment.

About leaving: Postlewaite said it was bittersweet. He's realize the impact the company has had on him. He grew up at PNB, and considers Seattle home. He tried to meet everyone in the company, from dancers to marketing people, etc. His parents were Montessori teachers and taught him to find his own way, always suggesting alternatives, and his mother used to speak French to him when he was small, until he became embarrassed in the playground. He hopes by living in Monte Carlo he'll pick it up quickly, and he's asked his husband (Olivier Wevers) to speak French to him as preparation. The company uses English as a working language; Noelani Pantastico told him that she expected to be fluent in a few months, but that using English in the studio has made that difficult.

He said he wants to find out who he is and re-invent himself: he said he's been at PNB since 19, and he's known a certain way here, with the trappings of growing up in front of everyone. He looks forward to touring, to have an opportunity to see the world, dance on many stages and see many artists. He's been told that touring gets old in two-three years, but he wants to experience it for himself, and that he can't be told: he always has to learn for himself.

Boal was asked if it was a big problem when people come from the outside and steal our dancers. Boal laughed and jokingly said "Yes", but he asked whether he was supposed to keep him in a closet so he doesn't meet anyone. Boal said he felt the same way about Maillot, but that he "wouldn't fit into the unitard." He said it was a blessing and a curse to have so many outside stagers, and that dancers can get a taste and want more. Postlewaite said that he will miss the variety, and that it was very hard to leave the rep, which Boal said most dancers cite when contacting him, but that he's also looking forward to focusing on the work of one choreographer, who is working and creating in the studio.

When asked how it would affect his marriage, he said that it was already a big change this season when Wevers stopped dancing with PNB and focused on Whim W'him, with them seeing each other less, and that they both would spend the next year focusing on their careers. Wevers will be based in Seattle, with Postlewaite returning home often, and Wevers meeting him on tour in places like Argentina, Israel, because he's able to work remotely when he's not in the studio. He said Wevers encouraged him and is totally supporting him in this decision.

Asked what roles he would do in Monte Carlo, Postlewaite said he knew Romeo and the Prince in "Cinderella", but not much more. Maillot is very protective of his dancers and loyal to them, and isn't going to give everything to him as the new guy. He said he wasn't starting at the top in his new company. He wasn't sure if Maillot would cast him with Pantastico in "Romeo et Juliette" or mix it up. He said he was going in with an open heart and mind.

Boal said he was hoping to get Pantastico and Postlewaite to guest in PNB's "Romeo et Juliette" next season (and that Maillot knows this). The work will be presented the first two weekends in February in Seattle and then tours to NYC, and there's always the possibility that New Yorkers may be able to see them at City Center. (Carla Korbes, who was injured during the first run, but danced the last time it was performed, was also partnered with Postlewaite.) He also said that Monte Carlo should present "Apollo" and "Prodigal Son" -- the role that put Postlewaite on the map -- since the works were made for that theater, (and it would be great if there could be a bit of an exchange program with PNB and Monte Carlo).

Postlewaite said he'd miss having an audience with recognizable faces. Either he or Boal talked about the small Monegasque audience, with much of the audience made up of tourists (just like in the Diaghilev and Rene Blum days). Postlewaite said that it was funded by the Princess, so interaction with donors isn't in the cards. Here he likes to go to the donor lounge and interact with donors and audience members in Q&As.

Postlewaite was asked what he learned from "Apollo". He said a lot of things in his career led up to it. He said roles like Basilio had a lot of arrogance, and that if he had done the role earlier, he would have been more boyish and natural, but that what he really liked about Apollo was the humility of the role and commanding the stage.

He was asked about what he did to prepare. He mentioned company class and lifting women, who "aren't as light as they look -- they are human", as a way of staying in shape. He said he eats Odwalla protein shakes and a Cliff bar to get the day started. On performance days he eats a big lunch and then naps, and does 20 push ups before going on stage to get his vascular system going. On rehearsal days, he said they "have to keep [food] coming." He then said that he didn't think he could get Odwalla (true) or Cliff bars (sounds like something his visitors will have to pack for him) in Monte Carlo, which may have been what prompted Boal to say, "Luckily, it sounds like he'll be miserable there", and Postlewaite saying that he may call Boal in January saying it was the biggest mistake of his life. (I hope not, as much as I will miss him, because the more he can experience and absorb on this adventure, the more enriched his dancing, already in the Milky Way, and his life will be.)

He said several times that he knows a dancing career is short, and that he wants to tackle ad soak up as much as possible. He also said that he wished this would stop, and that one day he could just be.

He and Boal discussed the final one-time Encore program on the last night of the season, and they wanted to do "Apollo", which Boal said he presented largely for Postlewaite, and "Prodigal Son" -- he'll perform the Pas de Deux -- which "kickstarted" his career when he was 19. He said he hadn't started to rehearse it yet. (I was too much of a wuss to ask who his Siren would be; I've only seen him with Ariana Lallone, in 2004 and 2007.)

Postlewaite's final words were, "Thank you. I've been impacted by all of you", and it was important for his audience to know how much.

In what is potentially good news, Boal said that they were getting closer to a DVD, and even though there were four unions, he thought it could be worked out as a possible new revenue stream. He's looking at a full length and a mixed rep, and he mentioned "Carmina Burana" as a possibility.

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Helene -- thank you so much for the extensive notes. I am very sorry that I missed that Q/A, and I'm grateful for all the details!

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If anyone else was there and heard something I missed or heard it a different way, please let me know. I was writing furiously, and I hope I understood them right. (The comments in parentheses are mine.)

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I was there, but I can't really add anything. In spite of Helene protestations to the contrary, she is like a human tape recorder! Her description captures both the essence and the detail of this very special and fascinating Q&A session.

The only thing I can think of that Helene left out was a quick reference by Lucien that a big draw for him to join Monte Carlo was the flat out excitement he feels about living in Europe (and who wouldn't wink1.gif ). Also, I believe it was Boal who first mentioned the unique nature of "the small Monegasque audience".

The thing that most struck me about this Q&A session was the close connection between Lucien and his admiring audience. The room was positively overflowing with our gratitude to him for how he pulls out all the stops on stage in order to give to us, his audience; at the same time there was the profound connection Lucien seems to feel in the other direction as we, the audience, give him the inspiration and the energy to give it his all. It felt like family that night in that lecture hall (most of the credit for that must go to Lucien's unpretentious, relaxed presence, and his willingness to share).

Frankly, I wonder if the roof of the opera house will contain the emotions that will no doubt explode the night of the Encore Performance (June 10 at 6:30pm) when we audience members will bid goodbye to this marvelous dancer. From where I sit, it will be right up there with the goodbyes to Patricia Baker, Lousie Nadeau, Jeffrey Staton, and Ariana Lallone.

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Having a notebook helps.

One thing I did forget was that Postlewaite commented on how small the costume for Apollo was getting. Boal said that the PNB costume was like a tablecloth. (I always thought it looked like a baby sling.). He had Larae Hascall alter it, and by the end, Postlewaite decribed it as "floss." :)

Edited to add: I hate phone spell check!

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Well, Boal did say in the lecture-demonstration a couple weeks ago that the ballet got "nakeder" over time.

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