Posted 03 November 2012 - 11:16 PM
I went to the matinee today, I wasn't really sure what to expect but actually I was surprised by all four pieces, for different reasons:
arms that work: The music is a composition by Barret Anspach, his sister dances for PNB, and she was in this piece. The music was intriguing, very modern for orchestra. I really, really liked the set, it looked like a roller coaster across mid-stage and the use of the rubber bands was done very well. I saw pictures on the PNB facebook page, and wasn't impressed. But on stage, they looked completely different. What looks like macrime knit covered by an Eileen Fischer wrap looks completely different when the dancers are in movement. It just goes to show you how lighting and staging really alter the theatrical experience of dance. Andrew Bartee choreographed, and he went for a contemporary dance movement style. Not all of it worked, and I thought it needed some editing, and more time in studio for practice. But I thought his ideas were very interesting. Angelica Generosa really stood out to me in this piece, though she was just a small part of it. When she dances, it seems as organic as walking across the street. I also liked Leah O'Connor in this.
Lost in Light: A traditional tutu-style partnering piece, set to absolutely gorgeous music by Dan Coleman, with the PNB orchestra's chamber ensemble sounding perfect in the pit. The choreography by Margaret Mullin was a forgettable mix of classical steps done without a unifying idea, and the costumes were something of a hodgepodge. But the lighting set the mood of a moonlit night, and to take the advice of Mr. B - I just relaxed and enjoyed the music. I do give kudos to Laura Gilbreath in this piece, I know I've critiqued her in the past. But here I liked the purity of her adagio. Benjamin Griffiths also looks more mature here.
Kammermusik No.3: The big draw of the night - Mark Morris' world premiere to music by Paul Hindemith. The lighting and costumes were purple, vaguely mandarin, unisex and suited the straight arms and use of 24 corps dancers. There was a leit motif of tripping throughout the piece. There was a bit of cheeky humor at the end but overall it seemed well rehearsed, the dancers seemed more committed than the first 2 pieces, or at least seemed more polished. I did think he used the stage space very well for the corps. I really wanted to love it, but I came away just respecting it.
Sum Stravinsky: Now this, I loved. Kiyon Gaines has done prior choreography for PNB, but I think this is his most successful piece to date. The costumes were classical tutus for the ladies, and sheer shirts with bicycle length hose for the men. Sheer fabric was folded to create interesting designs on both the bodices / tunics and tutus for the ladies. It sound strange, but it worked really well. If I can find a picture, I will link it later on. Set to Concerto in E-Flat Dumbarton Oaks 8-v-1938, the piece was a cross between David Dawson's "A Million Kisses to my Skin" and Balanchine's tutu plotless divertissements. It had wonderful humor, technical wizardry, and most importantly - great energy. The dancers were clearly thrilled to perform it, and it looked well rehearsed. The audience responded with the biggest applause of the night. More kudos to Laura Gilbreath, this time for a Spanish flavored Pas with Seth Orza. I've never seen her look so pleased to be on stage, nor so detailed. Truly, this was a breakthrough performance for her. Again, Angelica Generosa stood out in the corps. Maybe it's her glossy black hair in a sea of dishwater blondes at PNB, but I really think the combination of gorgeous dancing, a beautiful smile and stage presence make her future soloist material. Ryan Cardea was also a standout. The only drawback was dressing / lighting the dancers in such a similar blue color compared to last season's David Dawson piece brings out the obvious comparison.
So I arrived at McCaw Hall thinking that PNB commissioned their own dancers to save on $$$ to spend on (very expensive) Mark Morris, and I would have to sit through 3 "meh" works to see 1 amazing "pro" from NYC. I left wishing the entire rep had been Kiyon Gaines. Maybe I should initiate a JumpStart web campaign to fund an All Gaines rep next season at PNB.