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Rep I-Director's Choice

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Just getting ready to leave for Seattle to see this afternoon's performance. I am very excited to see Peter Boal's choice of piece set on each particular artist. I live in Vancouver, so I do try to get to Seattle at least once per season to see the ballet. When I saw the choices for this season, I wanted to make it up there for every performance. We have our own resident company here in Vancouver (Ballet BC), which I admire very much, but the lack or creativity in the selections of ballets that come to our city (that is a whole other topic), makes me very glad that Seattle is only a few hours away.

My husband is coming with me today, which is wonderful. He has only been to one other ballet performance (Nat'l Ballet of Canada), which he enjoyed. He really liked the Firebird (very story driven), and liked the Four Seasons (more abstract, less storybook). We'll see how he does today. He'll either love it, and be excited as me to see Jewels in June, or else I will be making the trip myself.

I will report back on both my own view and my husband’s view of today's performance, when I get back. :)

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We look forward to hearing your impressions of this afternoon's performance and what your husband thought. (More importantly, will he come to Seattle next June to see Jewels.)

We'd also like to hear about Ballet British Columbia. "That is a whole other topic" is music to our ears, and we hope you'll start it :)

Have a safe journey and quick border crossing.

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Sorry that it has taken me a week to respond, but life gets so hectic. I thought I better get something typed out before the finer details of the afternoon disappear from my memory bank.

My husband had to do some work in his lab that morning, so I was a little iffy on making it to Seattle on time for the performance, but I am happy to report that we made it there with plenty of time to spare. :P We were pleasantly surprised to find parking for a $5 flat rate right behind the official parkade, which we could pay by credit card. Last year this parking lot didn’t have this machine or we would have parked there. Seattle has an interesting system of paying for parking by putting your money or cheque into a mailbox type system. We were warned last year that if we didn’t have cheques, it was best if we found parking which was either pre-paid or with a visa machine, in order to avoid disputes. When we found this lot, we felt we were in for a good afternoon…and that proved to be very accurate.

My husband was very impressed with McCaw Hall, especially the fountain outside—very organic. We were seated in row k of the lower gallery (stage left), and my husband was surprised that the tickets were so inexpensive, as we had a great view. We could see the sweat and hear the breathing (not always), and he was very impressed with the how they can make something that is obviously very difficult, look so effortless.

The afternoon started with a wonderful surprise. Peter Boal and his son came out on stage and thanked everyone for coming. He discussed a bit about his choices for the program and mentioned that he hoped that next time everyone would bring a friend to the ballet—as an example, he had brought his son. He also said that he would be joining us by watching the ballet from the front of house, as it would give him an added perspective on the work itself. What a treat. It was such a pleasant surprise to be addressed directly, and to have him watch the performance from the audience. He and his son were there for every act.

In the Night:

Mara Vinson and Lucien Postlewaite were young love; Ariana Lallone and Stanko Milov were mature love; Louise Nadeau and Chrstophe Maraval were balanced love. It was a beautiful piece and a lovely first choice for the performance, as I felt that there was a nice build to the entire afternoon. A house is not sturdy without a solid foundation. All of excerpts were lovely. Mara and Lucien seemed to be the crowd favourites, but I really enjoyed Ariana and Stanko performance myself. Ariana has beautiful épaulement, which really added to the ‘comfort’ of mature love. Overall, a lovely, well danced piece. It was followed by a 25 minute intermission, which as too long in my opinion.

Artifact II

I have only ever seen Forsythe’s “In the middle somewhat elevated”, which I absolutely adored, and was quite looking forward to seeing this piece. As well, Carla Kőrbes was dancing, and after reading all of the hype, I was very curious to see her perform. From the start, it is very apparent that the piece was choreographed for Ballett Frankfurt. The stage was stripped bare of all of the drapery, and the only lighting was the big, bright, stage lights. Flesh coloured unitards for the men and flesh leotards with flesh tights on the outside for the women. The only other colour was the grey full body suite of “The Other Person” (spectre) which was performed by Kylee Kitchens. I would have preferred to see Kylee in a dancing role, as I remember her to be quite lovely. As soon as I saw the stage, I really wondered what my husband was going to think of this one. It was either going to be a love or hate thing. Well…he ended up really enjoying it. It was his overall favourite piece. In reading the program notes prior to the start, we were informed that this piece was punctuated by the curtain crashing to the floor throughout the performance. The first time it happened I heard my husband chuckle and people around us gasp “I don’t think that was supposed to happen”, but by the fourth drop, everyone was pretty habituated to it. In discussing it after, my husband said that he really liked the fact the curtain dropped, as it give his senses a chance to ‘re-group’. It made me thinking about the way that music is generally used to signify a stop or change in the choreography. For example, in the first piece “In the Night”, the transitions between the different stages of love were made apparent by the end of one nocturne and then the beginning of another. In the Forsythe piece, the transitions were made by the curtain dropping, while the music continued to play. It really is quite an innovative way to complete transitions. The more I think about this piece, the more I like it for the intellectual stretching that it forced me to go through. The real standouts of the performance for both my husband and I were Maria Chapman and Karel Cruz! They were outstanding. They were a beautiful match and Maria was amazing. I had high expectations for Carla, but next to Maria, there was no contest. Style-wise, body, feet, musicality, I felt real passion from Maria.

Duo Concertant

I saw this piece last year, so it was interesting to compare the staging from the new to the old. Peter Boal did a beautiful job with this piece. The connection between Noelani Pantastico and Olivier Wevers was evident. The final few moments are extremely touching, and brought tears to my eyes. I don’t remember having the same emotional reaction to the first staging of the piece. Beautiful music (haunting at times), along with beautiful dancing, made for an exquisite experience. In terms of its placement within the afternoon, it was perfect. The soft, lightness of the piece was a welcome contrast to the bright and bold Forsythe that had preceded it.

Symphony in Three Movements

What a wonderful piece to showcase the talent of the PNB dancers. Gorgeous music and movement… what a feast for the audience. Principal couples for the first movement were: Carrie Imler and Jonathan Porretta; Patricia Barker and Casey Heard; and Jodie Thomas and Jordan Pacitti. Quite striking to see all the corps women in full white leos and tights, the female soloist in black leos and the principals in pink. Jonathan Porretta commanded attention and deserves a special mention. The execution was wonderful, especially considering the complexity of the patterns. I did not see any wobbles or collisions. At one point I found myself thinking that was a ballet version of “Westside Story”. The second movement was a beautiful pas de deux performed by Patricia Barker and Casey Heard. Patricia Barker was lovely in this role; although I would have liked to have seen her paired with someone else. The third movement was the entire cast, and as I said earlier, it was a real feast for the eyes. My husband said that although he really liked it, he found it to be over stimulating. With so many people on stage, he wasn’t sure where to focus his attention.

Wow, this has kind of become an essay. I hope I haven’t bored everyone to death. We truly are blessed to have such a talented company so close to home. The good news is that my husband has agreed to make the return trip in June to see Jewels :wub: . I am a lucky woman on many fronts.

Edited by allegrafan

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I just realized I was less than 10 rows behind you, in the stage left gallery! I love those seats, but I did like Artifact II more last night from the middle of the house than from the side. The left hand side of the stage got cut off a bit from where I was sitting.

The friend who came with me last night also liked Artifact II the best of the program. The audience, though, had giggle fits when the curtain slammed down, up through the fourth time the curtain hit the floor. (It was an unusually enthusiastic audience for a Friday night.)

I wasn't able to see where Boal and his son were sitting. Boal did the Q&A with Jordan Pacitti after the performance. He said that his son was waiting patiently just for him just outside the lecture hall.

Thank you for your great description of the afternoon. I'll write a bit later contrasting both performances I saw. At the moment I'm trying to get over the grumpiness I feel after having seen Acts III/IV of James Kudelka's Swan Lake in Vancouver this afternoon. (I'm seeing the entire performance tonight.)

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I went to the October 1 matinee. After reading about the ballets and seeing a few photos, I expected to enjoy In the Night and dislike Artifacts II.

Instead I ended up also liking Artifacts II the best. It was very well done, the leads were Jodie Thomas with Jonathan Porretta and Lesley Rausch with Casey Herd. These pairings worked well. In fact one of the things I liked about the over all performance was the choice of pairings. They seemed so well matched. Lesley Rausch has an endless extension, good feet, placement and also quite pretty. She and Casey looked and worked well together.

Jodie is a hands-down favorite. She snapped out a few penchees and appeared to be taking chances with her balances. Maybe JOnathan brought that out? They looked great together as well.

The choreography stole the show though. And the end wrapped it up so well. Bravo!

OK so I didn't mention In the Night Yet. I love Chopin's Nocturnes so I really looked forward to this piece. It was well danced by Carla Korbes and Olivier Wevers (couple 1), Ariana Lallone and Stanko Milov ( :) ) (couple 2) and Kaori Nakamur and Casey Herd (couple 3).

Although well danced through out, I found myself bored by the choreography. Some of it seemed like I could tell what they were going to do next even though I've never seen this before. I liked to be surprised so I was disappointed. The sets and costumes (and dancing) were lovely. And the pianist, Dianne Chilgren was MARVELOUS, all the feelings just welled up when she played.

Duo Concertant was well performed by all same cast as above Noelani and Olivier. Good match again!

Symphony in 3 movements: I love the opening so dramatic: almost like the corps in Swan Lake, except they're in plain leos and high ponytails. Today the corps started off well but the finish wasn't together so the impact was lost. :(

After the curtain came down on each segment, the leads came for a second and stood in front of the curtains. I really like this touch. Thanks, Peter.

I am looking forward to the rest of this season. I can hardly wait for Concerto Barocco! Wahoo. (I'll have to resist getting up and dancing the 3rd movement in the aisle.) Not only is this one of my favorite Balanchines, it has always been my favorite Bach piece. It can lift me out of a grey Seattle mood, every time. THANK YOU, PETER BOAL!

Edited by Rhapsody

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Thank you Rhapsody for adding another perspective!! It appears that the casting was quite similar to the Sept 24th matinee. I too found that "In the Night" was my least favourite piece. Like I said, solid and sturdy, but certainly not outstanding. Not because all of the elements weren't good, but as you said... it was predictable. I guess this is a case of the 'whole' not being equal to the sum of all its parts.

It would be great if others who attended could report back their impression of the performances.

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I attended the Sept. 30th and Oct. 1st evening performances. Here are just a few quick impressions:

I really enjoyed having In the Night and Duo Concertant in the same rep. These pieces complemented each other quite nicely. I couldn't help watching one without thinking about the other. I would agree with Rhapsody and allegrefan that the choreography of In the Night was in some way "predictable". However, the final Nocturne framed the piece in a way that left me feeling quite satisfied. The point when all 3 couples stop dancing to take a moment to regard one another was extremely effective. In a addition to how the moment worked within the piece itself, it helped to prepare me for the first movement of Duo Concertant where I found myself more enthralled when the dancing stopped.

Artifact II was definitely the crowd favorite. I was able to see both Jodie Thomas and Ariana Lallone dance in the principle couple. The differences in intrepretation were apparent. Ariana's épaulement, highlighted by the yellow costuming and harsh lighting, was incredible to watch. And the energy which Jodie brought to the piece was very powerful.

I should probably get back to work. So I'll write more about Symphony in Three Movements later.

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I saw two performances; unfortunately I had to go away for an unexpected business trip and already had plans and tickets to the Kudelka Swan Lake in Vancouver during the last weekend of the run, and I wasn't able to see any of the other casts.

In In the Night the first couple was danced by Mara Vinson and Lucien Postlewaite and the third by Louise Nadeau and Christophe Maraval. In the first performance, Ariana Lallone and Stanko Milov danced the second couple, and in the second performance, Patricia Barker and Jeffrey Stanton did. I find Vinson's dancing lush and radiant, which makes her a more interesting choice than a more innocent dancer or one who dances "pretty." Postlewaite added a nice touch of chivalry to his portrayal of her youthful partner. In the central "mature love" section, Lallone and Barker gave very different performances. Lallone's arms and shoulders in particular were lovely, and it was nice to see her in a romantic, if somewhat stately, role. Like in most performances I've seen, the energy of the second is very different than the energy of the first and third couples, a contrast of style and temperament. Barker's was the first performance I've seen in which the second couple portrayed a more mature relationship, but built on the energy of the first couple, so that by the time the third couple appeared onstage, the explosion was a natural progression.

Nadeau and Maraval were stupendous as the third couple, from the moment of Nadeau's entrance, her jaw set, to the soft, reconciled exit. In over a dozen viewings, I had never seen this ballet when I didn't think the third couple's relationship was either silly or campy until this performance. Somehow Nadeau and Maraval conveyed an underlying connection that wasn't just about great make-up sex, despite the melodramatic turns of their relationship. One of the great moments, repeated, and just as powerful the second time I saw them perform, when it wasn't such a surprise, was during a set of lifts. I had always seen them performed very quickly, appearing to be gravity defying as somehow the women goes up and over and around the man's shoulders in a split second. (Did that really just happen?) When Maraval lifted Nadeau, instead of whipping her over his shoulders -- almost like the "cheat" that a high jumper uses to shift the center of gravity mid-way through the jump -- he slowed the lift down as he raised her up, and time slowed down as Nadeau appeared for a second to hang in the air. And then, a moment later, he did it again, and it was just as magical the second time.

In one of Robbins' brilliant stage conventions, one that is effective each time I see the ballet, even if it not a surprise, is the moment when all of the couples, who appear in the fourth piece, suddenly recognize that they're not alone, and formally acknowledge the others.

I very much liked Maria Chapman and Karel Cruz as the first couple in Artifact II, mostly because I really like both of them as dancers. I still felt they were a bit genteel in the roles -- I don't think I should have been casting them in Emeralds while watching them dance Forsythe. They were, however, from a different world than Carla Korbes and Batkhurel Bold, who were already part of the collective. It was as if the dynamic in that performance was the the second couple was trying to convince the first couple that "resistance is futile," a little like Odette and von Rothbart to Chapman and Cruz' Odette and Siegfried. Chalnessa Eames and Christophe Maraval seemed to be bred of the same substance as Ariana Lallone and Olivier Wevers in the second performance. I was struck by how much more vivid the women's roles are than the Men's, especially since Wevers and Maraval, in particular, are usually such strong presences on stage and Bold often is. (Cruz' presence is more elegant.)

In the first performance of Duo Concertante, Noelani Pantastico and Olivier Wevers danced, and they gave the most satisfying performance of the three (including the gala) that I saw, because they were so well matched, physically and energy-wise. Wevers interpretation of the role is very sunny, bouyant, and playful -- without the usual twist he brings to roles -- (until the sober last movement), and he and Pantastico played off each other's joyfulness, and, as a result, the performance soared. Before the second performance, Peter Boal announced that Le Yin had injured his knee -- and we just got him back, too :crying: -- and that Wevers would replace him. Normally, Wevers' presence can stand up to anyone's, but Wevers' approach to this role was a bit too light when paired with Nadeau. I would have loved to have seen her partnered by Bold in this ballet.

In the first Symphony in Three Movements, Porretta and Imler once again burst on stage as the first couple, and their energy didn't wane throughout the ballet. They set the bar for everyone else on stage, which was matched by the demi couples, who were superb, Patricia Barker and Casey Herd, and Jodie Thomas and Jordan Pacitti. Thomas and Pacitti are a fascinating contrast: he is so pliant and grounded, and she is light, clear, and direct. Barker was a revelation in the second movement. I've never seen her head so loose on her neck or her gaze so embracing. It's almost as if she shed a burden.

Because in the second performance Wevers replaced Yin in Duo Concertante and was replaced in In the Night instead of Artifact II, the intermission was moved to before Duo Concertante, to give him a rest and time for a costume change. Unfortunately, I'd just flown in from Europe, and despite my best efforts to modulate my caffeine intake, the timing was knocked off by the change in intermission, and I crashed right at the beginning of Symphony in Three Movements, just after Kiyon Gaines and Carrie Imler made their first jumping entrances. That meant being in and out of conscious during Carla Korbes' and Jordan Pacitti's performance of the second movement pas de deux, and no matter how much I pinched myself and tried to will myself awake, it didn't work. :wallbash:

This was such an amazing program to start Boal's tenure at PNB. This upcoming season is very exciting, and I can't wait until the next program. In an interview in encore magazine for Seattle Opera's performances of Jake Heggie's The End of the Affair, there was an interview with Boal and David Esbjornson, the new artistic director of Seattle Repertory Theatre. In it, there are two quotes by Boal that are very encouraging:

I wouldn't have been interested in coming here if I hadn't known that there's the right audience here for dance.  An educated audience, a sophisticated audience.
The programming for my first season is risky.  If they'd said, "We'd love to have you.  We want really safe things that are going to sell well," I would have said, "Well, there's got to be somebody else that can do that for you."

The program is a collector's item, including Doug Fullington's "Revisiting Balanchine's 1972 Stravinsky Festival", "The Many Worlds of Jerome Robbins" written by Deborah Jowitt, "Peter Boal's Road to Pacific Northwest Ballet", written by danceviewtimes' Susan Reiter, accompanied by excellent photos of Boal by Rosalie O'Connor (Waiting for Rain), Steven Caras (Boal as 17-year old corps member of NYCB), Paul Kolnik (at the height of the famous leap in Prodigal Son, in Red Angels, and in the final solo from Apollo), and Delia Peters (of 11-year-old Boal as the Prince in The Nutcracker, mid-mime), and in the ballet notes section, a photo by Kay Mazzo of Boal and Yvonne Borree in Duo Concertante.

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Thanks to allegrafan, Rhapsody, Joshua and Helene for such complete and evocative reviews.

[D]espite my best efforts to modulate my caffeine intake, the timing was knocked off by the change in intermission, and I crashed right at the beginning of Symphony in Three Movements, . . .  and no matter how much I pinched myself and tried to will myself awake, it didn't work. :wallbash:

:crying: indeed! Dontcha hate when that happens? :angry2:
The program is a collector's item, including Doug Fullington's "Revisiting Balanchine's 1972 Stravinsky Festival", "The Many Worlds of Jerome Robbins" written by Deborah Jowitt, "Peter Boal's Road to Pacific Northwest Ballet", written by danceviewtimes' Susan Reiter, accompanied by excellent photos of Boal by Rosalie O'Connor (Waiting for Rain), Steven Caras (Boal as 17-year old corps member of NYCB), Paul Kolnik (at the height of the famous leap in Prodigal Son, in Red Angels, and in the final solo from Apollo), and Delia Peters (of 11-year-old Boal as the Prince in The Nutcracker, mid-mime), and in the ballet notes section, a photo by Kay Mazzo of Boal and Yvonne Borree in Duo Concertante.

Thanks for the tip! Worth sending away for!

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