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Helene

Emergence: April 13-14 and 19-22

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Part one of the press release:

 

PACIFIC NORTHWEST BALLET PRESENTS

EMERGENCE

April 13 – 22, 2018

Marion Oliver McCaw Hall

321 Mercer Street at Seattle Center

Seattle, WA 98109

 

Seven Performances Only!

April 13 at 7:30 pm

April 14 at 2:00 and 7:30 pm

April 19 – 21 at 7:30 pm

April 22 at 1:00 pm

 

“Every ballet company in the world wants a work by choreographer Crystal Pite.” –The Guardian

 

SEATTLE, WA – For EMERGENCE, the penultimate program of its 45th season, Pacific Northwest Ballet brings back two audience favorites and the Seattle premiere of a powerful new work. The trio of blockbusters includes Crystal Pite’s mesmerizing Emergence, her stunning vision of hive intelligence; and Alejandro Cerrudo’s cinematic Little mortal jump, a work by turns playful, potent, and poignant. The program’s premiere is RAkU, PNB’s first work by Yuri Possokhov, whose tale of desire and loyalty captivates with its character portrayals and intriguing design layered with digital projection. EMERGENCE runs for seven performances only, April 13 through 22 at Seattle Center’s Marion Oliver McCaw Hall. Tickets start at $37. For more information, contact the PNB Box Office at 206.441.2424, in person at 301 Mercer Street, or online at PNB.org. [Audience advisory: RAkU contains themes of sexual violence.]

 

The line-up for EMERGENCE will include:

 

Little mortal jump

Music: Beirut (“A Call to Arms” and “La Banlieue”), Andrew Bird’s Bowl of Fire (“Beware”), Alexandre Desplat (“See How They Fall—Dans Les Champs De Ble” and “A Self-made Hero—Theme de Heroes”), Philip Glass (“Glassworks/Analog: Orange Mountain Music Archive: Closing”), Max Richter (“The Haunted Ocean 5” and “November”), Tom Waits and Kathleen Brennan (“Fawn”)
Choreography: Alejandro Cerrudo
Staging: Pablo Piantino
Scenic Design: Alejandro Cerrudo
Costume Design: Branimira Ivanova
Lighting Design: Michael Korsch
Running Time: 26 minutes
Premiere: March 15, 2012; Hubbard Street Dance Chicago

PNB Premiere: March 18, 2016

 

The 2016 Pacific Northwest Ballet premiere of Alejandro Cerrudo’s Little mortal jump was generously underwritten by Jeffrey & Susan Brotman. The 2018 production is generously supported by Peter & Peggy Horvitz.

Little mortal jump, resident choreographer Alejandro Cerrudo’s tenth piece for Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, is a bubbling blend of different styles and genres that distills into a fluid, cohesive whole. As a dance, it fuses the technicality of movement, the theatricality of the stage, and the dark humor inherent in relationships. As an experience, Cerrudo aims to transport his audience—to “make them forget what they did today, and what they will do tomorrow,” he says. From cubes that serve as frames and obstructions to diversely characterized couples to vastly contrasting music, Littlemortal jump is layered with unexpected twists and turns. This work is a step in the evolution of Cerrudo’s choreographic style, of which he says, “I challenge myself to create more complex works and to do things that I haven’t done before.” [Notes courtesy of Hubbard Street Dance Chicago.]

 

RAkU (PNB Premiere)

Music: Shinji Eshima (2011)

Libretto: Gary Wang

Choreography: Yuri Possokhov

Staging: Quinn Wharton

Scenic and Projection Design: Alexander V. Nichols

Costume Design: Mark Zappone

Lighting Design: Christopher Dennis

Running Time: 36 minutes

Premiere: February 3, 2011; San Francisco Ballet

 

The 2018 Pacific Northwest Ballet premiere of Yuri Possokhov’s RAkU is generously supported by Aya Stark Hamilton, Glenn Kawasaki, Sharon Lee, Ms. Jodi Wong, and Leslie & Tachi Yamada.

 

Audience advisory: RAkU contains themes of sexual violence.

 

RAkU is a story about love and separation, desire and jealousy, violence and grief, told by choreographer Yuri Possokhov to stunning effect. Based on the true story of the burning of Kyoto’s Golden Pavilion in 1950, RAkU is set in a much earlier time and in a style similar to Noh theater, which presents the essence of a story rather than a literal depiction. Possokhov’s imaginative approach to the story, a commissioned score, and the dramatic projection-based scenery combine to make a perfectly melded artistic whole, telling the story of a princess, her warrior husband, and a monk.

 

Despite its Japanese story and setting, RAkU contains no traditional Japanese dance or music; Possokhov is more interested in tone, aesthetics, and visual inventiveness than in reenacting history. Combining folk-based steps and butoh (a post-World War II Japanese dance form utilizing extremely slow movements) with classically based movement, he makes every emotion in the ballet visual and vivid. And although the commissioned score by Shinji Eshima is symphonic and uses no Japanese instruments, it conveys a Japanese feeling, and one section incorporates a Buddhist chant. [Notes (excerpted) by Cheryl A. Ossola. Ms. Ossola’s notes for RAkU were originally written for San Francisco Ballet in 2011 and have been revised by the author for Pacific Northwest Ballet. For Ms. Ossola’s complete notes, visit PNB.org.]

 

Emergence

Music: Owen Belton (2009)

Choreography: Crystal Pite

Staging: Hope Muir

Scenic Design: Jay Gower Taylor

Costume Design: Linda Chow

Lighting Design: Alan Brodie

Running Time: 28 minutes

Premiere: March 4, 2009; National Ballet of Canada (Toronto)

PNB Premiere: November 8, 2013

 

Principal support for the 2013 Pacific Northwest Ballet premiere of Crystal Pite’s Emergence was generously provided by Marcella McCaffray.

 

Crystal Pite is known as one of the most innovative and exciting choreographers at work today. National Ballet of Canada artistic director Karen Kain commissioned Pite to create an original work for the company as part of a program of new work by Canadian choreographers. The result, Emergence, brought audiences to their feet and went on to win four Dora Mavor Moore Awards for Outstanding Production, Outstanding New Choreography, Outstanding Performance and Outstanding Sound Design/Composition by Owen Belton.

 

A riveting dark-hued work that casts a swarming, scurrying group of dancers, insect-like, in an eerily subterranean universe, Emergence dramatizes through its mesmerizing choreographic attack the ways in which the instinct for creating social forms seems hard-wired into life itself. Pite’s inspiration for the work came from reading Emergence: The Connected Lives of Ants, Brains, Cities and Software by American popular science theorist Steven Johnson and considering parallels between the social organization of bees and the hierarchical nature of classical ballet companies.

 

Johnson’s statement that “simple agents following simple rules could generate amazingly complex structures” became a touchstone for the piece. Pite was interested in individual expression and in collective problem solving through movement, often favoring the visual and kinesthetic appeal of the eccentric over the mundane and the grotesque over the beautiful. Pite rarely works with dancers en pointe and was attracted not only to the dancers’ ease of movement but also to the potential for a creature-like effect.

 

Key to Pite’s vision for Emergence was her collaboration with composer Owen Belton, who uses both acoustic and electronic instruments, often in combination with computer processing techniques, to arrive at atmospheric palettes of sound and tone. Pite and Belton incorporated drone-like sounds of bees along with sounds of marching to signify the power and ominous presence of the body politic. [Notes courtesy of National Ballet of Canada. For more information, visit PNB.org.]

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SPECIAL EVENTS:

 

BALLET 101: Contemporary Ballet – New Works and Current Trends in Ballet

Tuesday, April 10, 7:00 pm

The Phelps Center, 301 Mercer St., Seattle

Artistic Director Peter Boal and PNB’s ballet masters discuss the season’s works, what makes them contemporary, the diversity of styles, and the multiple demands on dancers and staff in preparing new work. This is the third of a four-part series exploring a range of topics, from ballet terminology, steps and partnering, to casting, contemporary works, and the business of ballet. Tickets are $25 per session. For more info, visit PNB.org.

                    

PNB CONVERSATIONS & DRESS REHEARSAL

Thursday, April 12

Nesholm Family Lecture Hall at McCaw Hall

Join PNB Audience Education Manager Doug Fullington in conversation with RAkU choreographer Yuri Possokhov, 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 ARTISTS

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, April 20, 2015, 7:30 pm 
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 up to 40% off their tickets. For more info, visit PNB.org/YPC.

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An "Emergence" .gif tweeted by PNB:

 

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3 hours ago, Helene said:

SPECIAL EVENTS:

 

BALLET 101: Contemporary Ballet – New Works and Current Trends in Ballet

Tuesday, April 10, 7:00 pm

The Phelps Center, 301 Mercer St., Seattle

Artistic Director Peter Boal and PNB’s ballet masters discuss the season’s works, what makes them contemporary, the diversity of styles, and the multiple demands on dancers and staff in preparing new work. This is the third of a four-part series exploring a range of topics, from ballet terminology, steps and partnering, to casting, contemporary works, and the business of ballet. Tickets are $25 per session. For more info, visit PNB.org.

                   

I'm looking forward to this rep, but this event should be particularly interesting.  The 'business of ballet' session that they held in the autumn was full of information.

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On 3/27/2018 at 12:12 PM, Helene said:

SPECIAL EVENTS:

PNB CONVERSATIONS & DRESS REHEARSAL

Thursday, April 12

Nesholm Family Lecture Hall at McCaw Hall

Join PNB Audience Education Manager Doug Fullington in conversation with RAkU choreographer Yuri Possokhov, 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.

 

I noticed the guest artist for the dress rehearsal discussion has changed to composer Shinji Eshima.  See https://www.pnb.org/community/audience/lecture-series/.  It would have been nice to hear Yuri speak, but I am excited Shinji will be here.  For me, everything starts with the music.  Last weekend I listened to the RAkU CD several times while on a road trip so I'm looking forward to hearing about the music in detail.   And I loved their collaboration on Swimmer, so maybe we'll hear about that too.   I wonder if Shinji is composing for Yuri's World Premiere for San Francisco Ballet next season?  Hopefully we'll get some information so we can plan our trips to SFB next year.

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First weekend Emergence casting is up:

1. Two casts for "Little Mortal Jump": the first, dancing Opening Night and the Saturday matinee is half old, half new, and the Saturday night cast is all debuts.

2. Three Principal casts for RAKU.

Rachel Foster is back; she and Margaret Mullin share the role in the Prologue, with Mullin continuing her comeback.

Link to the website; scroll for casting at the bottom:

https://www.pnb.org/season/17-18/emergence/

Link to the downloadable spreadsheet:

Emergence 18_04_04.xlsx

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56 minutes ago, Helene said:

Matthew Renko is cast as Bee Man second weekend Thursday and Friday.  It's been a long time since he last danced.   

But what a role to come back in!

(and Emma Love Suddarth looks positively feral in that last moment in the video...)

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Just got a heads up about RaKU casting on first Saturday, 14 April 2pm:  Noelani Pantastico (Princess), Seth Orza (Samurai), and Kyle Davis (Monk), who will debut tonight, will dance also dance in tomorrow's matinee, and Lesley Rausch's, Jerome Tisserand's, and Lucien Postlewaite's debuts in the same role are moved to next Saturday evening, 21 April.

http://balletalert.invisionzone.com/topic/43605-emergence-april-13-14-and-19-22/

Link to updated downloadable spreadsheet:

Emergence 18_04_13.xlsx

Here's a new practice video of the Richter excerpt from Little Mortal Jump with Elle Macy and Jerome Tisserand.  (In the back right you can see Christian Poppe shadowing them: he and Angelica Generosa make their debuts in the same roles tomorrow night:

 

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Partial and full standing O's greeted all three ballets this weekend.  Audience members praised the program and some commented in the Q&A's that this was the best program they had ever seen.  Dancers talked about how much they loved the program.  I am not this program's target audience.

My favorite works of any dance types outside of deliberately and primarily improvisational are those that are built like tanks and are dancer-proof, ie., the works themselves don't live or die by the people performing them.  "Emergence" is built like a tank.  "Little Mortal Jump" and "RAkU" are not, at least to my eyes and other neuro-pathways, and I think both could use the dance equivalent of a good copy editor.

For "Little Mortal Jump," this is partly because of the musical choices, as the parts that were least interesting to me in general, the group dances and the final pas de deux in particular, are to long, rolling selections.  The first three pas de deux are very different, musically, and for me, the performances that held my attention were the individual ones, in which there is rhythmic acuity and diverse phrasing that arcs within the repeats of music and/or dance phrases, notably Leah Merchant, Price Suddarth and Elle Macy and Jerome Tisserand reprising their roles, and Leta Biasucci, Ezra Thomson, and Christian Poppe debuting in theirs.  I missed James Moore, who was perfection in the last run, and I hope he can dance it in Paris; Poppe, in a different role, reminded me of what I loved most about Moore, his variations on timing and acceleration and his groundedness.

In Samuel Beckett's "Happy Days," the repeats are deliberately meant to invoke completely different emotional responses, and similarly with da capo structures in opera arias.  It doesn't resonate with me when during the short pas de deux for two women or the group dances, and while I keep hearing and reading how the final pas de deux is so moving, I just find the repeated material in it to be dull on its own.  Lucien Postlewaite's performance last night in the pas de deux was breathtaking in its tension, amplitude, and phrasing, and it was a completely different experience for me.

The most interesting part structurally of "RAkU" for me was the specific movement palette he created for the four warriors, with the kaleidoscope of patterns and shifting tableaus, constrained without being stilted -- most of them were in a tight space -- and for the brilliant partnering they did with the wretched Princess, mourning for her husband and herself.  The pas de deux between the Princess and Samurai was relatively generic neoclassical, but without the relentless gymnastics that this has come to imply, and Karel Cruz's gentle, sensitive partnering was particularly moving.  It's not a secret that this story doesn't end well, and a woman in the Q&A last night pointed out that white is the color of death in Japanese (and many Asian) cultures, and asked if this meant the story was a flashback -- that had been my assumption, as in their first appearance it looks like the Warriors are opening a tomb, and the Princess and Samurai are still, like in an official portrait -- and from that formal opening, the transition into the pas de deux sets the stage for the rest of the story.  Seth Orza was very strong as the public-facing Samurai, leaving his wife and heading off into battle with the four Warriors, who were both actors and Greek chorus.

There are 1.25 casts of Warriors: Christian Poppe will dance Guillaume Basso's part.  Poppe is considerably shorter, and the Warriors have to be in perfect sync, especially during the post-rape lifts, but he also danced for Benjamin Griffiths in the "Emergence" quartet, which Anne Dabrowski in Ballet 101 this past week described as a section where all four dancers, three men and a woman, have to have perfect spacial awareness with each other, and Poppe, subbing close to the first performance, looked seamless this past weekend.

The character of the Monk was shared by Kyle Davis and Steven Loch.  (Lucien Postlewaite was schedule to make his debut in a cast with Lesley Rausch and Jerome Tisserand, but we learned in the Q&A that Lesley Rausch had hurt her back, and their debut has been moved to next Saturday night.)  I was struck in the recent "Tosca" Met in HD how Zeljko Lucic played the external Scarpia so elegantly and how he devolved the no-other-witnesses Scarpia in Act II, whereas I've seen performances where Scarpia was there-there from his first entrance.  The Monk has a twitchy set of arm movements that also coincidentally presaged "Emergence," and for Davis, it was as if he was trying to bury that side of him and act as normally as possible, bottling in his roiling emotions, until he couldn't.  With Loch he had already turned the corner from the beginning, being birthed out of normalcy, and gradually working up to his worst.  I found each approach compelling.

Making her debut as the Princess in the evening performance, Lindsi Dec expressed every possible emotion, from love and intimacy to destruction and despair though her body: through gesture, timing, and especially shapes and phrases, and it was like an entirely different ballet.  It was an astonishing performance, and she is reprising the role next Friday.  If you have a chance to see her in it, do not, do not, do not miss it.

I wasn't sure after that performance I would be able to focus on "Emergence," but, Crystal Pite.  Rachel Foster was superb in both the Prologue, with Joshua Grant, and in the Quartet, and Laura Tisserand was riveting with Miles Pertl in the Pas de Deux.  My favorite performance of the many superb ones so far in "Emergence" were the three in the Trio making their collective debut last night:  Amanda Morgan, Madison Taylor, and Sarah-Gabrielle Ryan. They just killed it.

 

 

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Posted (edited)
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My favorite works of any dance types outside of deliberately and primarily improvisational are those that are built like tanks and are dancer-proof.....

Helene, you produce such excellent reviews, and this time I was strongly attracted to your word "tanks".....it conjures up so many thoughts.  I think I get what you are saying, but I was more interested in how that sentence gave me insight into how you see dance (not that I'm right, I'm just sharing my thoughts here). You and I speak often about dance, many times in person. I'm frequently struck by how we nearly always agree about the strengths of a particular dancer, but just as frequently disagree about which ballets we like :wink:. Your use of the word "tank" got me to thinking.

You know 5 times what I will ever know about dance, but it just struck me that you may not give one aspect of dance the priority that I do; namely, drama. Outside of the dancers themselves, I submit that you place most weight on the choreography (hence "tank"); where I place the most weight on how the ballet, like other performing arts, creates drama (Gesamtkunstwerk, anyone? :))

After seeing last weekend's 3 performances, and unexpectedly to me, I came to the conclusion that my favorite work was RAkU.  Why? Drama! What I love best about ballet (true for opera and theater too) is the emotion it invokes in me, the new thoughts it creates for me, or perhaps how it can re-arrange my existing thoughts into a new order or into a new perspective. Even something like Agon, creates these feeling in me -- albeit on a very abstract level. For me, RAkU did that in spades. On my first viewing, I wasn't even sure I liked it; on the 3rd viewing, I was emotionally exhausted (a good thing in my world). I must say that much of that response was the privilege of having seen Noelani Pantastico play the Princess role twice. What ever else that lady brings to the stage, she strikingly brings drama. Much like she did with those 9 back to back performances of Juliette some years ago, Noe became her character in RAkU. With her, it's not a matter of her believably as a character, she is the character. Like a great actress, Noelani allows herself to experience real-time who her character is and how that character is feeling.  Brava Noe! And Brava again.

Not to diminish others. I give the highest marks to Kyle Davis for his creation of the Monk. He made me shutter with the despise I felt. He was relentless (not to mention his always superb technique and flow). I saw Lindsi Dec as the Princess too; and altho I can't give her the highest praise I give Noe, Lindsi came as close to Noe's level as is possible without having Noe's extraordinary acting gift. It was obvious last Saturday evening at the curtain calls after Lindsi's debut performance, that she had left it all on that stage.....she could hardly stand.....she was spent, and then some. (It was sweet to see her husband Karel take her hand as he stood next to her during one of the many ovations to support her as if to say: "I'm here; everything's going to be all right."

Thank you PNB, and thank you to the art of ballet, for creating such exquisite drama in my being. Opera comes close, but for me, ballet is even more direct, even more powerful, and certainly the most beautiful at creating my connection to others thru art.  Like it or not, be offended or not, be disturbed or not, RAkU is my pick for being the highlight of this adventurous and magnificent program.

P.S. And yes, I am one of those who thought this program was the best I've seen in several years.

Edited by SandyMcKean

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And that's why I prefer the tanks: they don't rely upon being moved, excited, outraged, etc. by specific performers or interpretations.  I need a spine for my blood to boil.

Hubbard Street Dance is playing at Meany Theater at UW tonight and tomorrow, and this is a great opportunity to see five choreographers: a Forsythe that is very different than I've seen at PNB -- I kept thinking of Miles Pertl watching it -- Mineko Williams -- a piece of hers is part of PNB's next season -- "Jardi Tankat" in a much more intimate setting, a tight, engaging, witty piece by Cerrudo, and a stunningly beautiful piece by Pite.  The dancers are incredible -- I think seven of the 17 dancers listed on the roster performed, and I'm not sure if new casts will dance tonight and tomorrow night -- and it's a great way to see double Cerrudo and Pite with both companies in close proximity.

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On 4/20/2018 at 10:30 AM, SandyMcKean said:

After seeing last weekend's 3 performances, and unexpectedly to me, I came to the conclusion that my favorite work was RAkU.  Why? Drama! What I love best about ballet (true for opera and theater too) is the emotion it invokes in me, the new thoughts it creates for me, or perhaps how it can re-arrange my existing thoughts into a new order or into a new perspective. Even something like Agon, creates these feeling in me -- albeit on a very abstract level. For me, RAkU did that in spades. On my first viewing, I wasn't even sure I liked it; on the 3rd viewing, I was emotionally exhausted (a good thing in my world). I must say that much of that response was the privilege of having seen Noelani Pantastico play the Princess role twice. What ever else that lady brings to the stage, she strikingly brings drama. Much like she did with those 9 back to back performances of Juliette some years ago, Noe became her character in RAkU. With her, it's not a matter of her believably as a character, she is the character. Like a great actress, Noelani allows herself to experience real-time who her character is and how that character is feeling.  Brava Noe! And Brava again.

Not to diminish others. I give the highest marks to Kyle Davis for his creation of the Monk. He made me shutter with the despise I felt. He was relentless (not to mention his always superb technique and flow). I saw Lindsi Dec as the Princess too; and altho I can't give her the highest praise I give Noe, Lindsi came as close to Noe's level as is possible without having Noe's extraordinary acting gift. It was obvious last Saturday evening at the curtain calls after Lindsi's debut performance, that she had left it all on that stage.....she could hardly stand.....she was spent, and then some. (It was sweet to see her husband Karel take her hand as he stood next to her during one of the many ovations to support her as if to say: "I'm here; everything's going to be all right."

I'm coming into this discussion quite late, but I'll just say it's great to hear how committed and focused the PNB dancers seem to have been in their RAkU performances.

"she had left it all on that stage.....she could hardly stand.....she was spent, and then some"

What you describe was very much the way Yuan Yuan Tan approached her SFB performances - it was startling how absolutely exhausted and shaken she would look at the end, and it always took her a couple of minutes at least to recover her normal demeanor and poise. That's when you know you've seen something.  😉
Great stagecraft and drama often help. That said, I also enjoy ballets that are built on seamless choreography and a close relationship to the music. Some of both would make for a perfect evening.

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