I went to the Thursday Nov.12 performance. It was spooky walking towards McCaw completely in the dark, they allowed us into the front of the foyer, but it was very crowded, took a while to get everyone settled. The lights came on around 7:15pm, I think the first performance was approximately one hour later. We had to wait for the inspectors to check all the lights before they allowed the crowds into the theater. I would say it was 80% full.
Peter Boal came and spoke, it didn't look like he'd had time to change into a suit, he was still in corduroys and a casual sweater. He said they planned to cancel at 7:15pm, but voila! at 7:13pm the lights came back on.
Caveats: the remainder of this post is the review by someone who is a casual ballet fan. I enjoy it, I could not explain the difference between the Russian style, the French style or the Balenchine style (I can *see* the difference, but I lack the ballet vocabulary to explain it properly). I've never danced or trained in ballet, but I've attended as my mother's guest (she has season tickets) for many years, and I went to see "The Nutcracker" religiously as a child. So, caveats out of the way, here are my impressions:
Petite Mort: Just as Lindsi Dec notes in the PNB blog, I also first saw "Petite Mort" on The Arts Channel and fell in love. And I also found it on YouTube this year, and have watched the original several times. Googling the ballet, I was surprised how often it has been performed in the US - Tulsa, Houston, etc - but only made it to PNB this year. I believe the PNB dancers are well equipped to take it on and do it justice and I was not disappointed! Karel Cruz and Lindsi Dec were last minute replacements for Carla Koerbes and Jeffrey Stanton. I could watch this piece go on forever. I wish Jiri Kylian had choreographed the full concerto, because it washes over you like a wave of warm water, just perfection. I feel like a better human being for listening to the music - props to the PNB Orchestra and Allan Dameron! I sat in the Gallery, about 10 rows back, so quite close to the stage. I usually sit above, but this ballet gave me a chance to appreciate the athleticism of the dancers, and watch their facial expressions. They were focused to the 9th degree to make this a success. I was shocked there was no standing ovation, I thought the whole thing was spectacular. Seattle especially is known for giving the easy standing ovation - often not deserved. Maybe, everyone was too tired from waiting around?
One odd thing towards the start, a short solo of Laura Gilbreath & Batkhurel Bold had a faulty lift. Again, I am not versed in the proper language of the steps, but the lift was 'off'. Behind me, I heard a comment 'come on! lift her, she's a beautiful dancer'. I don't think it was lack of strength, just timing was off, but within about 3 steps, they were back. I do think Kylian's choreography demands speed, which does not favor a tall dancer such as Ms. Gilbreath. The swords were interesting, but I loved the use of the cloth tarp, and the dresses on wheels. I will say this for the audience, they were engaged and laughed at the humor of the dresses.
I would see this again in a heartbeat, in fact, I watched it at lunch today on YouTube.
Mopey: Gosh, I really wanted to like this piece. I am a fan of Sokvannara Sar, I think his talent and commitment are fantastic. The piece was a cross between modern dance and the choreography you see on "America's Next Dance Crew". My mom liked it more than I did. I didn't like "One Flat Thing" either, just call me a stick in the mud.
The Seasons: The music by Glazunov was accessible and I enjoyed Val Caniporoli's ideas. Lucien Postelwaite was the Zephyr, and Kaori Nakamura was The Swallow. I'd like to pause here and note that Kauri has developed into a lovely ballerina. I remember seeing her about 10 years ago in "The Sleeping Beauty" and she struggled with a steady grasp with her partners, I think it was just nerves. She was technically beautiful, but seemed a bit brittle - for lack of a better term. Now she seems at ease with her partners each time and her acting skills are much warmer. As The Swallow, she had loads of fun on stage, and there were a few dance spins straight out of Olympic ice dancing (I mean that in a good way). Lindsi Dec and Stanko Milov played Bacchante / Bacchus, and they were a tall, languid leading couple, though I suspect with an additoinal week's practice, they would be much more authoritative. Kudos to the acting skills of the fauns and satyrs. I think 2nd round, this production will be polished to a fine gleam and we will begin to see even more of Caniparoli's intentions.
Regarding the new costumes, I thought they were hit and miss. I enjoyed the snow, which were sheer flesh with black sparkles, and tutus of 1 layer of sheer black with a hoop. They looked like "black ice". I didn't think they were so much 'modern' - more 'The Jetsons'. I liked the blue feathers for the Swallow and Bluebirds, which were essentially attached to the same costumes worn by "black ice". They had amazing hair feathers, straight out of the wedding scene from "Sex and the City", quite fabulous. I wished their costumes were blue instead of flesh/black. Moving on to the men, for the "black ice" consorts and Zephyr lead, the song "Glitter & Be Gay" kept coming to mind. Nothing wrong with tight, tight briefs and blouson tops covered in glitter...but they looked like they were going to a fanTABulous party in South Beach, rather than "21st century winter snow". Sorry, just my two cents on the matter. The Fauns were better - dark red leather sleeveless jackets (ok, that sounds pretty gaybar too). The Naiads wore fantastic fall leaves and dogwood branches in their hair during the Autumnal finale. To top it all off, Bacchus got to wear gold lame' cargo pants covered in gold glitter. Just think about that - Stanko Milov is PNB's ultimate Heroic Male Principal, and he's out there topless wearing glitter covered lame' cargo pants. Maybe it looks just fine from the Balcony, I'll have to try that view next time.
West Side Story: The evening ended with the happy return of Jerome Kerns' "West Side Story Suite". I loved it last season and this year is even better. Carla Koerbes was there as Anita, the girl can sing! Seeing her up close I realized just how tiny she is, and good Brazilian girl that she is, she made Chita Rivera proud! They were all fun and clearly enjoying themselves, but also very tired at the end. Due to the similarity in looks, height, dance style and costume, I had a hard time telling Jerome Tisserand (Tony) apart from Lucien Postlewaite (Riff). Couldn't tell if Lucien sang Riff's part, or if he lip synched, but the singing was very good in "Cool" and the corps handled the jazz beautifully. I picked this night because there were multiple debuts in WSSS, and I wanted to see dancers try new roles. Only Stanko Milov I felt was unsuccessful. I love him in so many roles, but the man is Bulgarian and does not have a single latin cell in his body. He tried hard as Bernardo, but lacks the panache required for the role of a Puerto Rican gang leader. Plus, he is so much taller than Lucien or Jerome, it is difficult to take them seriously when they challenge Stanko to a fight. He is a man among boys - but a very, very Slavic White Man among boys. To their credit, I could not differentiate between the PNB school dancers and the regular company members. Cheers to them for dancing Jerome Kerns so beautifully!
I clapped at the end, but half of the audience raced out of the theater, the stage manager arranged for the final curtain call and I think the dancers were a little taken aback that the audience moving to the doors without any "love" for them. But it was nearing 11pm at that point, and I hope they realize everyone was rushing trying to get home, no offense intended.
I've been reading this thread for a while, finally got around to registering and posting, thanks if you read this far, I hope you'll take my comments with a large grain of salt. If any of the dancers run across this post, just know I adore PNB and look forward to the Spring season!