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Director's Choice: March 16-17 and 22-25

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Note:  this is also the weekend of the student performance of Bruce Well's "Snow White," which is quite delightful and opens with a forest divertissement.  Two performances (12:30pm and 3:30pm) on Sunday, March 18, and one at 3:30pm on Saturday, March 24, making it possible to do the double-header with "Director's Choice."

Part one of the press release:

PACIFIC NORTHWEST BALLET PRESENTS

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Featuring works by

ULYSSES DOVE – WILLIAM FORSYTHE – EZRA THOMSON

March 16 – 25, 2018

Marion Oliver McCaw Hall

321 Mercer Street at Seattle Center

Seattle, WA 98109

Seven Performances Only!

March 16 and 17 at 7:30 pm

March 17 at 2:00 pm

March 22 – 24 at 7:30 pm

March 25 at 1:00 pm

Seattle, WA – For the fourth offering of its 45th season, Pacific Northwest Ballet’s Artistic Director Peter Boal has selected four contemporary works – a riveting duet, a favorite work, a little controversy, and a world premiere by Company dancer Ezra Thomson – for PNB’s perennially popular DIRECTOR’S CHOICE. The limbs of a bonded pair sculpt open air in William Forsythe’s Slingerland Duet, and pure athleticism surges like reverb from the electric violin in Ulysses Dove’s Red Angels. Audiences have another chance to debate Forsythe’s One Flat Thing, reproduced, as the dancers take cues from each other on, under, and around 20 tables. (See SPECIAL EVENTS, below, for information on the special studio presentation exploring this challenging work.)

“Each of the three choreographers represented in Director's Choice was just that,” said Mr. Boal in describing the line-up. “As young dancers, each demonstrated an interest and affinity for choreography. Their respective directors saw their potential and offered them the opportunity to choreograph for their company. Recognizing and rewarding potential and conviction will always be a priority of mine. Ezra Thomson's got it, and just as Marcia Haydee and Alvin Ailey saw the promise in William Forsythe and Ulysses Dove, I see it in Ezra. Together these three innovative choreographers offer a program that challenges, inspires and rewards.”

DIRECTOR’S CHOICE runs for seven performances only, March 16 through 25 at Seattle Center’s Marion Oliver McCaw Hall. Tickets start at $30. For more information, contact the PNB Box Office at 206.441.2424, in person at 301 Mercer Street, or online at PNB.org.

The line-up for DIRECTOR’S CHOICE will include: 

World Premiere (Title TBA)

Music: Francis Poulenc (Concerto for Two Pianos and Orchestra in D minor, FP 61, 1932)

Choreography: Ezra Thomson

Costume Design: Larae Theige Hascall and Ezra Thomson

Lighting Design: Reed Nakayama

Running Time: 22 minutes 

Ezra Thomson’s first work for PNB’s mainstage is an autobiographical story of love and loss, and the feelings that linger in your life forever. The 2018 world premiere of Thomson’s new commission is principally supported by Joan Fitzmaurice, Anne Holmes, and H. David Kaplan.

Slingerland Duet (Pas de deux)

Music: Gavin Bryars (String Quartet No. 1, “Between the National and the Bristol”)

Choreography: William Forsythe

Staging: Stefanie Arndt

Stage, Costume and Lighting Design: William Forsythe

Running Time: 6 minutes

Premiere: April 13, 2000; Ballet Frankfurt

PNB Premiere: March 13, 2015 (New Suite

William Forsythe’s pas de deux Slingerland Duet is drawn from his larger work, Slingerland (Part I), which featured music by British composer Gavin Bryars (Three Viennese Dancers, in addition to String Quartet No. 1), stage design and film by Cara Perlman, and costume and lighting design by the choreographer. Parts II, III, and IV followed in 1990 to form Slingerland (Parts I-IV), a full-length ballet in four acts. In 2000,Slingerland Duet was first presented, made up of two duets from Slingerland (Part I) and additional choreography. 

William Forsythe’s Slingerland Duet was first performed by Pacific Northwest Ballet as part of New Suite. The 2015 PNB premiere of William Forsythe’s New Suite was generously underwritten by Jeffrey & Susan Brotman. [Notes compiled by Doug Fullington.]

Red Angels

Music: Richard Einhorn (Maxwell’s Demon, 1988-1990)

Choreography: Ulysses Dove

Staging: Peter Boal

Costume Design: Holly Hynes

Lighting Design: Mark Stanley

Running Time: 14 minutes

Premiere: May 9, 1994; New York City Ballet (Diamond Project)

PNB Premiere: September 17, 2005

Red Angels is a ballet of intense dramatic impact that is calculated to charge all the senses. Dressed in scarlet leotards and bathed in white and red hot light, four dancers perform with powerful athleticism to a riveting score for electric violin. Ulysses Dove commented on working with the dancers of New York City Ballet: “I wanted to deal with aspects of the Balanchine aesthetic I find appealing: the speed, legginess, the formality. As for the title, I think the dancers are angelic. And for me, the angels of the senses are red.” Composer Richard Einhorn has described Maxwell’s Demon as “a conscious attempt...to transmute American popular music into art...with a nod towards direct expression and to an audience steeped in American rock ‘n roll.” [Notes compiled by Doug Fullington.] 

One Flat Thing, reproduced

Music: Thom Willems (2000)

Choreography: William Forsythe

Staging: Ayman Harper, Jill Johnson, and Richard Siegal

Scenic and Lighting Design: William Forsythe

Costume Design: Stephen Galloway

Running Time: 17 minutes

Premiere: February 2, 2000; Ballett Frankfurt

PNB Premiere: March 13, 2008

William Forsythe’s One Flat Thing, reproduced caused a stir when it premiered at PNB in March 2008. Set to a rumbling sound construction by the choreographer’s frequent collaborator, composer Thom Willems, and performed by fourteen dancers on and around twenty metal tables, One Flat Thing thrilled some, angered others, and, for some, called into question the definitions of “ballet” and “dance.”

Forsythe’s eclectic, intellectual starting point was a consideration of the risk and adventure of Robert Scott’s Antarctic expeditions in the early 20th century, during which explorers relied on each other for survival, juxtaposed with his own interest in the idea of a “baroque machinery,” an ornamental, highly organized construct that runs like clockwork. The melding of these thoughts manifested itself in the collaborative development of a movement vocabulary involving high-speed choreography performed within the confines of a tightly spaced set of tables with the requirement that the dancers play off each other, rather than a musical score, in timing their moves. The result is a thrilling sequence of team choreography, a “baroque machinery” running dangerously close to reckless abandon. [Notes by Doug Fullington. For more information about One Flat Thing, reproduced, click here to visit the PNB Blog.]

The 2008 PNB premiere of William Forsythe’s One Flat Thing, reproduced was generously underwritten by Jeffrey & Susan Brotman.

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Notes -- not from the press release:

The Poulenc score was used by Peter Martins in his "Concerto for Two Solo Pianos" for Heather Watts, Jock Soto, and Ib Andersen.  It's wonderful music.

"Slingerland Duet" was originally seen in early performances of "New Suite" in 2015; it was taken out later in the run.

Here is a detailed pnb blog entry on "One Flat Thing Reproduced":
https://blogpnborg.wordpress.com/2018/02/07/unpacking-one-flat-thing-reproduced/

Since the last time it was done was almost a decade ago, the photos are a nice look back at the company from that time.  I'm pretty sure that's Chalnessa Eames on the table and Jordan Pacitti right in front of her in the second small photo, with Seth Orza under the table on the left.  In the third small photo, it looks like Carrie Imlers profile behind and between Batkhurel Bold and Maria Chapman facing each other on the left and Jonathan Porretta and Jodie Thomas to the right.  In the photo after Forsythe's, from left to right are Olivier Wevers, Jonathan Porretta, Chapman, and Bold.  And in the last photo, in the foreground is, left to right, Lucien Postlewaite, Chapman, and Bold, with Kaori Nakamura and Orza in the background.

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More from the press release:

SPECIAL EVENTS

SPRING FLING

Sunday, March 4, 1:00 pm

The New Francia Russell Center, 1611 136th Place NE., Bellevue

Join PNB dancers and hosts Ezra Thomson and Sarah Pasch at Spring Fling, PNB School’s largest annual fundraising event. This family-friendly affair will include a silent auction with items from PNB and local businesses, dance performances by Level VII and VIII students, a DJ dance party, Bonbon Barre candy buffet, a cake walk, and more. All proceeds benefit PNB School. Tickets may be purchased through PNB Special Events at 206.441.2429 or by emailing Events@PNB.org.

 

STUDIO PRESENTATION: Inside William Forsythe’s One Flat Thing, reproduced

Tuesday, February 27, 5:00 pm

The Phelps Center, 301 Mercer St., Seattle

Did you know that William Forsythe’s modern masterwork, One Flat Thing, reproduced, was inspired in part by Robert Scott’s early-20th century Antarctic expeditions? Learn more about this truly fascinating work – and dancer favorite – during this studio presentation featuring PNB dancers, guest stagers, Artistic Director Peter Boal, and twenty metal tables. Tickets are $25, available through the PNB Box Office. Note: This event will sell out in advance!

 

FRIDAY PREVIEW

Friday, March 9, 5:00 pm

The Phelps Center, 301 Mercer St., Seattle

PNB’s popular Friday Previews are hour-long studio rehearsals hosted by Artistic Director Peter Boal and PNB artistic staff, featuring Company dancers rehearsing excerpts from upcoming ballets. Tickets are $15. (Note: These events sell out in advance.)  Friday Previews are sponsored by U.S. Bank.

 

PNB CONVERSATIONS & DRESS REHEARSAL

Thursday, March 15, 6:00 pm

Nesholm Family Lecture Hall at McCaw Hall

Join PNB Audience Education Manager Doug Fullington in conversation with choreographer Ezra Thomson during the hour preceding the dress rehearsal. The conversation begins at 6:00 pm, followed by the dress rehearsal at 7:00 pm. Tickets ($30) may be purchased through the PNB Box Office.

 

BALLET TALK

Nesholm Family Lecture Hall at McCaw Hall

Join Audience Education Manager Doug Fullington for a 30-minute introduction to each performance, including discussions of choreography, music, history, design and the process of bringing ballet to the stage. One hour before performances. FREE for ticketholders.

 

MEET THE ARTIST

Nesholm Family Lecture Hall at McCaw Hall

Skip the post-show traffic and enjoy a Q&A with Artistic Director Peter Boal and PNB dancers, immediately following each performance. FREE for ticketholders.

 

YOUNG PATRONS CIRCLE NIGHT

Friday, March 23
Join members of PNB’s Young Patrons Circle (YPC) in an exclusive lounge for complimentary wine and coffee before the show and at intermission. YPC is PNB’s social and educational group for ballet patrons ages 21 through 39. YPC members save on their subscriptions and additional tickets. For more info, visit PNB.org/YPC.

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I would so love to see One Flat Thing. Reproduced. It looks like such a unique and dancer-driven piece with sharp energy. And PNB as a company has impressed me for how skilled AND healthy their dancers look and some very bold programming choices. Thank goodness for the video clips and articles so that I can keep up vicariously!

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I'm really looking forward to seeing One Flat Thing again -- it's a really aggressive work, and not to everyone's taste, but I'm thrilled that it's part of this program.

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I saw One Flat Thing 5 times when it was first done in 2008.  The first time, I didn't like it at all.  I wasn't of the mood, like some, that I should be angry and leave the hall.....I just didn't get it.....but I've learned over the years, that when I don't like something, it's usually me, and not the piece.  Second time,  it grew on me just enough such that I became neutral.  Then in one of his lectures, Doug Fullington mentioned this technique where the dancers must key off each other instead of depending on the music.  WOW.....the third time, I got it, and found the piece fascinating and exciting. The fourth time I started to see Balanchine here and there and every where (that's not surprising since those who know way more than I often talk about the connection between these two choreographers).  All of this came into sharp focus the fifth time.  Oh, am I glad I stuck it out!  One Flat Thing is now one of my absolute favorite piece of all time.....right up there with Agon and Square Dance.

In this season I've been looking forward to One Flat Thing more than any other ballet......except perhaps Ezra Thompson's new work. Ezra grabbed my eye years ago, and he keeps blowing me away with his talent, commitment, and his invention.  Now to see all of that mature into a 22 minute statement is about as exciting as it gets for me.

Imagine all of this is ONE program........yipee!

Edited by SandyMcKean

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18 minutes ago, SandyMcKean said:

I saw One Flat Thing 5 times when it was first done in 2008.  The first time, I didn't like it at all.  I wasn't of the mood, like some, that I should be angry and leave the hall.....I just didn't get it.....but I've learned over the years, that when I don't like something, it's usually me, and not the piece.  Second time,  it grew on me just enough such that I became neutral.  Then in one of his lectures, Doug Fullington mentioned this technique where the dancers must key off each other instead of depending on the music.  WOW.....the third time, I got it, and found the piece fascinating and exciting. The fourth time I started to see Balanchine here and there and every where (that's not surprising since those who know way more than I often talk about the connection between these two choreographers).  All of this came into sharp focus the fifth time.  Oh, am I glad I stuck it out!  One Flat Thing is now one of my absolute favorite piece of all time.....right up there with Agon and Square Dance.

In this season I've been looking forward to One Flat Thing more than any other ballet......except perhaps Ezra Thompson's new work. Ezra grabbed my eye years ago, and he keeps blowing me away with his talent, commitment, and his invention.  Now to see all of that mature into a 22 minute statement is about as exciting as it gets for me.

Imagine all of this is ONE program........yipee!

I concur with what you say here SandyMcKean. Although I prefer William Forsythe when he is working in a more ballet style (Artifact, In the middle) One Flat Thing grew on me after repeat viewings. The range of his creations is to me pretty spellbinding. He has made work so vastly different in style to a point I don't think many others could ever match. I am also excited for Ezra Thompson. Here is to the future!!

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No, it is still terrible.  I like Red Angels, but nothing else on the program is exciting.  

I wish they were reviving Artifact II, NY Export: Jazz, Arms That Work, or bringing in Ivenesia.  Or better yet, Symphony in Three Movements.  

I am debating exchanging my tickets for a second night at the subsequent rep.  Why waste my money? 

Edited by Jayne
I don’t know what is wrong with the font sizes

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On 2/22/2018 at 11:48 AM, Jayne said:

No, it is still terrible.  I like Red Angels, but nothing else on the program is exciting.  

I wish they were reviving Artifact II, NY Export: Jazz, Arms That Work, or bringing in Ivenesia.  Or better yet, Symphony in Three Movements.  

I am debating exchanging my tickets for a second night at the subsequent rep.  Why waste my money? 

No Slingerland pas de deux either?

I'd love to see all the works you list here, but I'm also looking forward to this rep.  I've been listening to the Poulenc, and it feels very kinetic to me.  Curious to see what Ezra T makes with it.

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I am neutral about Slingerland.  

I would much rather see other things.  

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I don't really feel like I've seen it enough to have a preference yet.  But I'm sometimes a pretty slow learner.

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And I missed this earlier video of Leslie Rausch and Lucien Postlewaite in "Red Angels":

 

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14 hours ago, Helene said:

A sneak peak at Ezra Thomson's new ballet to Poulenc, featuring Leta Biasucci, with Sarah Gabrielle Ryan and Ryan Cardea joining her, and, I think that's Angelica Generosa in the back, shadowing Biasucci:

https://www.facebook.com/PNBallet/videos/10155682895843952/

A nice slice -- I've been listening to the score and wondering what he was going to do with it.

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I was able to go to a studio showing of One Flat Thing last week, and got another look at part of the work.  It's a big shift from most of the rep -- if you've seen it before you likely love it or hate it, but I don't know anyone who is indifferent to it.  The stager Ayman Harper spoke about the complex interconnected visual cues that Forsythe built into the work, and had the cast demonstrate a couple of the exercises they were using to sharpen their reaction times.  More often than not, a ballet ensemble uses a musical score to organize their action -- they dance to the music.  In this work, there are apparently very few aural cues -- most of the triggers are visual.  And as the choreography is full of long cascades of "I see this and I go there" activity, the coordination alone is a huge challenge.  Add to that a distinctive movement vocabulary that is very different than the standard classical glossary, a rabbit warren of tables for a set, and a large cast with very little unison action, and you've got a highly organized event that resembles chaos.  I've always found it exhilarating, but it's so dense that I get really tired following along with the multiple patterns.

The work was part of a research project at Ohio State University, and they created a web-based illustration of the cuing systems Forsythe built in the work -- it's called Synchronous Objects, and is quite beautiful to watch.  There's video of the work itself, and lots of other fun things!

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Posted (edited)

Thank you for that insight, sandik...that sounds like a wonderful peek into the work. I imagine that it's quite a challenge and new approach for the dancers. I bet they also either love it or hate it :) I so wish I could see this piece live at some point!

I'm bookmarking the link to Synchronous Objects to watch later. This is just the sort of blend of nerdiness/analytical representation and art that I enjoy.

Edited by kylara7

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Miles Pertl on "On Flat Thing Reproduced":

 

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Has anyone seen casting?  It’s usually posted on the website by now (one week prior to opening).  😩

sandik - thanks for the studio demo info.  I missed that one.  Would you say you have a better appreciation of the piece? Know how to watch it better, as Miles stated?

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First weekend is posted now!  Same casts for Ezra’s piece, The Perpetual State, and One Flat Thing, Reproduced.  But lots of interesting different pairings for Slingerland Duet and Red Angels!

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6 hours ago, seattle_dancer said:

Has anyone seen casting?  It’s usually posted on the website by now (one week prior to opening).  😩

sandik - thanks for the studio demo info.  I missed that one.  Would you say you have a better appreciation of the piece? Know how to watch it better, as Miles stated?

This will be the third time around for me, and though I remember quite a bit of the work, I'm looking forward to seeing deeper.  If you get the chance, take a look at the website -- there's footage of the work itself, as well as the graphical analysis.

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Disappointing that Pertl isn't dancing in "One flat thing": it's right in his wheelhouse.

Here's the link to the downloadable spreadsheet with weekend one casting.  (As always, casting is subject to change.)

Directors Choice 2018.xlsx

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I had to clear my Chrome cache actively to see it.  I could see it on my phone and on Firefox, which has an option to clear cache and cookies each time you exit.

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