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Celebrate Seattle Spring Dance Festival

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I'm being marketing blitzed for the Celebrate Seattle Spring Dance Festival. However, I feel rather confused about it. I'm quite new to the world of dance, drawn in by my young daughter, but I have enjoyed learning. Could someone please talk me through it? Something along the lines of Dance Festival for Dummies 101?

It is being sold in 3 "programs" of either 3 or 2 performances. Are single performance tickets available?

In teeny, tiny print there are many different dance companies listed. Is there any way to tell who is performing in which performance? How would a novice with limited finances know which would be the best choices to make?

Thank you for any help you can offer.

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I wouldn't call it "Dance Festival for Dummies 101" (:blink:)though, although many people attending might be exposed to more genres of dance than they've seen before. There will be pieces whose styles and work will be familiar to ballet audiences, like corps member Kiyon Gaines' Schwa, Ballet Master Paul Gibson's Sense of Doubt, Robert Joffrey's Remembrances, and Christopher Stowell's Adin. I have to admit, I don't remember Torque from 2001, but Val Caniparoli also choreographed Lamberena and The Bridge, both performed multiple seasons by PNB. A treat on Program A will be Jane Eaglen, who will sing Wagner for the Joffrey piece.

There will be works from outside PNB that will be performed by choreographers' own companies: Christopher Stowell's Adin performed by Oregon Ballet Theatre and John Alleyne's Schubert performed by Ballet British Columbia on the ballet side, and on the modern side, Donald Byrd's Bhangra Fever performed by Spectrum Dance Theatre and Mary Sheldon Scott's Locale performed by Scott/Powell Performance. (That's what the "fine print" at the bottom of the site means.)

While it's too soon to tell how this will fit into Peter Boal's long-term plans for festivals, here's a link to an inteview with Peter Boal from the March encore program. He said that the initial idea came from a critic, who noted the number of important choreographers who are from the Pacific Northwest, like Merce Cunningham, Robert Joffrey, Mark Morris, and Trisha Brown.

There are three ways to create a festival: find a producer to invite all of the companies, have the companies themselve produce it, or have one company organize the whole thing, which is what Boal did. The important point is that he wants the dance audiences in Seattle to be interested in a wide range of dance and companies and to be mutually supportive. There's a great short interview with Kitty Daniels, who's the Chair of the Dance Department at Cornish -- attended by Merce Cunningham, John Cage, and painter Morris Graves, with whom Cunningham and Cage collaborated on the original version of the Cunningham piece in Program A -- on the PNB website:


Since Boal is stretching the company in new directions, mostly in the type of dance that interests him and that he commissed for "Peter Boal & Company," what this festival will do is put in context the contemporary work he's brining to the company.

You can buy single tickets. Just click on the "Buy Tickets" button at the top right of this page and then select the date under the program you want to see. There are four sections that list the ticket price as $20.

Program A is the closest to a typical program you'd see at PNB: One neoclassical in romantic style (Joffrey), one tango-influenced neoclassical (Gaines), one Caniparoli, and one strictly modern piece by Merce Cunningham. Program B has two jazz, modern pieces (Dawkins and Byrd), one by Toni Pimble to a Dvorak String Quartet -- the piece was chroreographed for NYCB's Diamond Project, for Peter Boal, Jeffrey Edwards, and Stephanie Saland -- and one by John Alleyne, whose style is contemporary ballet. Program C is split between neoclassical (Stowell and Gibson) and modern (Brown and Scott).

Another way to decide may be by music. Program A has Wagner songs, Piazolla tangos, a Torke symphony -- his music generally is in the same minimalist genre as Phillip Glass and John Adams -- and a modern score/soundscape by John Cage. Program B has a truncated piano trio by Schubert, Simone/Fuentes/Segal, the Dvorak "American" string quartet, and what amazon.com describes"The musical form bhangra was born when young Indian DJs living in Britain layered dance-techno electronics over the infectious, pounding beats of traditional Indian drums (namely tabla and tholl) and instrumentation. " Program C has music by Bizet/Dylan/Lightfoot, Rachmaninoff, Powell (I know I've heard his music, but I don't remember it offhand.)

Are there ballets you've seen that you like or dislike? Music that you'd like to hear, even if you don't care for the dance work itself? Chances are you'd be able to find a program that has an anchor work that matches your likes.

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I feel rather confused about it

I sympathize. I do think given the way this festival is being rolled out, it can be confusing (even to the long time PNB goer).

Perhaps you are well aware of this, but just in case......first off the regular season runs from about Sept to June (with a long break in the holidays for the prime money maker Nutcracker). There are typically 5 or 6 programs in that season -- many of which will be composed of three or four 20-30 minute ballets (as opposed to one "full length"). Each of these season programs runs for 2 weeks.

Now here's the confusing part. The "Festival" is in the middle of the season (toward the end of it actually), but not technically part of the season (subscribers don't get tickets to these performances for example). It gets really confusing because it is billed as a 3 week festival, but really the 1st two weeks are just a normal season program named the same as the festival "Celebrate Seattle Festival". Altho this season program features choreographers from Seattle (Morris, Stowell) it really has nothing in common with the more avant garde, almost experimental, programs (A, B, and C) of the "real" festival which is only a week long and follows directly after the normal 2 week season program run. Frankly, I think it was a mistake to name the normal season program the same of the festival. Too confusing.....(much like Microsoft's unfortunate naming of "Windows Explorer" and "Internet Explorer").

So go to the regular season program (Morris, Stowell) if you want "normal" ballet, but if you are interested in "what's new", "what's happening", "what's possible" (some of which might not be very good), go to the true festival during that one week. Better yet go to both. For instance, I myself will probably go at least twice to the regular program, and I already have tickets for all 3 of the festival week programs (and may well go to additional performances of those too depending on casting).

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Thank you both so much.

What have we liked? We have a subscription this year (parent discount is very helpful) and have enjoyed everything. I can honestly say there is nothing we disliked. I am amazed at the quality of dancing by the entire company.

We splurged and went to the Opening Gala since dd was one of the little Circus Polka girls. WOW! I think we will always go to that now. How wonderful to be able to see all of the principals on stage the same night!

My kids predictably enjoyed Nutcracker, Swan Lake, and La Sonnambula. But they also particularly remember Fancy Free and Rassemblement. In addition, my son really enjoyed "The one where you could see the sweat flying off the guys," by which he means In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated. It was also a very new style of music for him and he was intrigued.

My most vivid memories are from many different parts; The beautiful and extensive pointe work in Theme and Variations; The playful competition of the dancers in In the Middle; The dramatic lighting of Dancing on the Front Porch of Heaven; The dramatically different style of dance and emotion in Rassemblement; The incredible intertwinings of Polyphonia. And I loved the playfulness of Waterbaby Bagatelles. I hope I haven't mixed up the names of any of those.

But watching Carla Korbes dance Odette/Odile has been the highlight of the year for me so far. When I saw others dance Odette/Odile (dd was in it), it was beautiful and the corps of swans was so enchanting. The whole package was beautiful. But when Carla Korbes danced it, my attention was riveted to her. I've never seen anything so beautiful and graceful. I now change my tickets to when she is dancing the most.

So those are the musings of a novice. From your descriptions, it sounds like I would enjoy them all. I guess it still doesn't narrow it down for me, but whichever I could get to would be pleasing.


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You're not as much of a novice as you think :)

I think Korbes is a goddess. After I saw her first Odette/Odile, I wondered how she could possibly top that, which she did in her second Odette/Odile. You'll be happy to know that in the first week of Pacific/Carmina Burana, all subscription performances, she'll be dancing in Pacific on Thursday, April 5 and Friday, April 6, and she'll be the wanton woman in red in Carmina Burana on Friday, April 6 and Saturday Matinee, April 7.


(Only the first weekend's casting is up now.)

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Look what I found! Those should help me choose.

Program A Casting


Program B Casting


Program C Casting


So now that I see the casting, I've finally figured out how clueless I really was. I thought they wanted me to buy tickets to all the dates listed in Program A which would be 3 different dates with different dances on those different dates. Two different dates for Program B with different dances on each of the two dates, and the same with Program C. Now I see that Program A really is just one program done 3 different times, (2 for B). See? I really am a novice. I told you I needed Dance Festival for Dummies 101. Blushing and slinking back under my rock now.

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Thank you for finding and posting the casts, Chocomel!

When looking at the Carmina Burana and Pacific casting, I missed that Jordan Pacitti has been cast in Carmina. He's in three of four ballets in Program A, as well. It will be great to see him back. I was getting worried.

The casting is sane -- same casts across all performances. When I saw the *'s noting debuts, I wondered if Paul Gibson's piece was new, and not the piece he did for the gala (although I remembered Glass for the score), but I found my gala program, and except for Jodie Thomas replacing Maria Chapman in the "Quartet" movement, the cast is the same as the gala for three of the four movements. Gibson has added a Pas de Deux for Korbes and Herd.

Weese and Maraval are cast together in one of the Trisha Brown pieces. I think that's inspired pairing.

Christopher Stowell is bringing the big guns from Oregon Ballet Theatre. I don't know Houser, but I've seen the other dancers, and they are terrific. Gavin Larsen is a lovely dancer who used to be at PNB, and I was thrilled to see her resurface in Portland. It will be great to see her in Seattle again; I think this will be her first performance on the new stage at McCaw Hall.

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You're not as much of a novice as you think

DITTO..... :)

Impressive run down of your impressions of this season. I think you are going to have to give up your "I'm quite new to the world of dance....." status. I welcome you to those of us who are "fanatics" or at least "enthusiasts". As Helene implies above, you can no longer hide under that "novice" cloak. Com'n admit it, you're hooked!

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I'm totally hooked! We go to the lectures before and the Q&A's afterward so we can learn more. I find it helps tremendously.

My very generous mom told me that she had been feeling badly that she always buys things for my kids, but rarely for me. She asked me what I would want for my birthday more than anything else if money were no object. I told her a subscription to PNB for next year. So that's what she gave me. I couldn't be more excited and grateful! As soon as the subscriber renewal time ends, I'll be able to purchase it with the parent's discount. (April 16th, I think.)

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I am so, so very excited for this festival. I've been looking forward to it from the moment it was announced. It's a dance-geeks dream. I can't go on the weeknights, but I'll be camping out for the third weekend. Pre-Show, Post-Show, Inbetween Show (how exciting for the Crispin Spaeth group!) I'll be there. Between the RedHook and the trail mix, I'll be set.

Although for the first time ever, I'm planning to watch something from the lobby. I'm excited for Pacific, but last time I saw Carmina I had a hard time not commenting throughout the whole thing. I'll just watch it from the lobby this time...or maybe they'll let me into that quiet room. I'm sure I could find a Cornish kid who loves to comment to go in there with me, it'd be a blast.

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Celebrate Seattle Festival Week 3 opened last night. The Festival opened with a piece by one of PNB's own, Kiyon Gaines. Originally performed in last year's Choreographer's Workshop, Schwa, to music of Astor Piazzolla. Some of the ballet was re-worked, with three fewer dancers than the original 18, and with only two substitutions of the remaining 15, Anton Pankevitch for Jonathan Poretta, and Leanne Duge for Chalnessa Eames.

I remember thinking that this was a terrific work when I first saw it, and it is even better now. It's often not surprising when men choreograph well for other men, especially is parts for which they themselves would have been suitable casting. In this Gaines in no exception, particularly in the "La Calle" section for Benjamin Griffiths and James Moore, which is now the second section after the full cast opening. This part was filled with elegant virtuosity that is a hallmark of Gaines's dancing. What is even more auspicious is how well Gaines choreographs for women. He's given Brittany Reid break out in "La Muerte de Angel" in a solo with energy and sweep. But the highlight of the ballet was the new "El Sol Sueno" solo for Mara Vinson: it was evocative of tango yet intrinsically classical. The pas de deux for Vinson and Karel Cruz was strong, and although the man's role was primarily partnering, it emphasized Cruz's long line.

The one criticism I would have of the ballet is that in the "Encuentro/Olivido" section with two couples, the promise of the beginning wasn't realized, and the section faded, although it was an opportunity to see Maria Chapman and Lesley Rausch dance side by side. These two women are two of the best upper body dancers in the company, and there was a gentle qualify and lovely bloom to their work that complemented each other.

After the performance in the Q&A, Gaines discussed the logistics: with 15 dancers, to have two casts and the necessary understudies would use most of the Company, and that for his next work, he expects to use a cast of ten. This is a shame, because he also knows how to use and move a corps. He will be choreographing a work for this year's Choreography Workshop, which Boal said would be performed by Professional Division students on 16 June in the evening, after the daytime school performances.

Schwa alone makes it worth attending Program A.

The second section consisted of two works. The first is Robert Joffrey's Remembrances, set to music by Richard Wagner. It has a story: a woman, here Lindsi Dec, dressed in a long gown, remembers a distant romance. Jane Eaglen, also dressed in a long gown sang "Traume" onstage, as Jeffrey Stanton and Kaori Nakamura danced "The Lovers." I find the ballet itself dull, but Nakamura's performance was incandescent.

After a pause, PNB dancers performed Merce Cunningham's Inlets 2 to a conch shell quartet playing music of John Cage. For such a water-filled score, I found it rather dry: it was like watching a stream with bushes and trees around. Every once in a while a big breeze would blow, and there's be a lot of activity, but most of the time, there were contained, rhythmic sways. Ariana Lallone was particularly appealing, but I can't quite describe why.

The program ended with Val Caniparoli's Torque, which, in my opinion, was mostly a non-starter. The first movement was unusual for Torke: the droning, regular phrases in many of his scores was missing, and the clarion instrumentation almost lilted. However, Caniparoli choreographed it in choppy phrases, reminsicent of Peter Martins in Ecstatic Orange, et. al., and just as soon as the dancing couples could hit their stride, the phrase would End. Ten great dancers on stage and no place to go. Until the third part, in which Caniparoli choreographed an exquisite solo danced by Olivier Wevers, who invested it with detail and vividness throughout his entire body. It was the high point of the ballet.

Tonight's Program B opened with Ballet British Columbia's performance of John Alleyne's Schubert, set to the composer's 2nd piano trio, whose second movement was made famous as the theme in the movie Barry Lyndon. In the first two movements, the recurring movement pattern was that a woman was lifted and then went to the floor. In the first, there were many playful and original poses and freizes; not that the dancers stopped still in freeze frame, but that top of the image was foremost. From the first movement, I would love to see what Alleyne would bring to the Nymphs and Satyrs sections of Sylvia and from the second movement, to the monsters in Firebird.

What was frustrating was there wasn't that much movement or use of floor space. When in the middle of the first movement a man ran in a semi-circle from downstage to upstage, I felt a sense of relief. This changed in the last movement, where there was a fabulous section for the seven women in the ballet, with eye-catching, weaving patterns and a much more expansive sense of movement, paradoxically with less room on stage. The dance ended with a solo comprised entirely of ballet steps and turns, which were very sparsely sprinkled until then.

The women in the Company are terrific. They would make a trip to Vancouver worth it to see them.

After a pause, Batkhurel Bold, Carla Körbes, James Moore, and Kiyon Gaines danced Sonia Dawkins Ripple Mechanics, choreographed for the 2005 Choreographer's Workshop. Originally for two women and three men, only Bold was in the original cast. They dynamics have changed, with one central woman, and for the better. The opening, in which the four dancers sit on boxes, which are used throughout, was the strongest part of the dance, in my opinion, and the music was a big reason for this. It was an abstract soundscape, and at times, it almost looked as if the dancers were causing the score to progress just as much as they reacted to it. Once the music turned to songs (sung by Nina Simone and Jacqueline Fuentes), the dancing became more formulaic in structure, although the dancers themselves were clearly differentiated. (In the post-performance Q&A, Boal said that when Dawkins was re-casting, she said she wanted to work with "the Mopey Guy" [James Moore].) Any ballet that can bring Bold out of his generally cool persona like that and inspire him to show such a huge smile when it was over is worth seeing.

Part 2 began with Two's Company, a ballet by Toni Pimble, choreographed for the 1992 Diamond Project for Stephanie Saland, Jeffrey Edwards, and Boal, who did the staging. The three dancers were Bold in Boal's part, Patricia Barker in Saland's, and Karel Cruz in Edwards's. It was set to the second movement of Dvorak's String Quartet in F Major, a deep, rich piece of music. As the music bends and folds and unfurls and coils, so did the choreography. In many ways the most conventional work on the program, it was also, in my opinion, the most successful, creating a simple narrative of a love triangle and mood through disciplined, structured choreography and dramatic restraint. The role is a gift to Patricia Barker at the end of her career, and a gift to the audience to be able to witness it.

The program ended with Donald Byrd's Bhangra Fever, danced by his company, Spectrum Dance Theater. If the piece had ended after driving, hopping dance before the first curtain, I would have been a very satisfied camper: the section was tight, focused, and a vortex of bundled energy. After that, there were stretches of inventiveness, like the group simply walking, and the slow pas de deux for one of the side couples (she was in red and yellow) in the third section, and some terrific dancing, including one man with head of curls (or short dredlocks?) who exploded with energy and was mesmerizing. But on the whole, it lost my interest.

Five minutes after the first (or only) intermission, a project called "One Tiny Dance" by Crispin Spaeth Dance Group, takes place on "the Tumble Creek at Suncadia Stage on the Kreielsheimer Promenade," or as Peter Boal described it in his pre-curtain speeches, "that table in the lobby that looks like it came from IKEA." Literally 4x4'ish, a dance takes place on it every night, and people crowd along the balconies to catch a look. I didn't get a very good spot last night and didn't see much, but tonight's dance, with two women impersonating chickens doing a mating dance -- they started on the walkway that is visible through the glass wall of the lobby -- and a requisite male (rooster?) in the mix at the beginning and end. It was a delight.

Another part of the festival is that for each performance, there are a group of honorees in the Seattle dance world. Last night, the honorees were The Phelps Family, who were key in bringing Russell and Stowell to Seattle and helping to create The Phelps Center, PNB's classroom, office, costume shop, and studio building on the West Side; Pacific Northwest Ballet School; and Joffrey Ballet School teacher Francesca Corkle, for whom Remembrances was choreographed, and her mother Virginia Ryan, Corkle's teacher.

Tonight's honorees were Kabby Mitchell III, who danced with a number of companies before he came to PNB, where he was a soloist in the late '70's through mid 80's, and where he taught at the PNB school until he left to earn a degree in Iowa; Seattle Theatre Group, which manages the Paramount and Moore Theatres, produces dance performances at those theaters, and runs education outreach throughout the Seattle community; and Virginia Anderson, who was the director of Seattle Center and spearheaded the campaign to renovate McCaw Hall.

Boal has emphasized how he wants the dance audience in Seattle to embrace the entire dance community, and this festival is a giant step in that direction. The best way to enjoy this experience is to expect to see a dance festival.

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I saw Program B last night (Program C, then A, I see this weekend). I felt very excited to be attending such a festival where more limits can be pushed with less fear of consequences, not to mention seeing other regional companies. Interestingly, there seemed to be several PNB dancers in the audience I presume to watch the other companies (I even saw Julie Tobiason there -- one of my all time favorites).

I didn't like Schubert. Perhaps not the fault of the ballet, but a product of my own foibles. First off, I've never been a fan of Schubert's music.....so the ballet was likely hopeless for me. I also felt that Alleyne's choreography "followed" the music to closely. It seemed to me that every note and swell of the music just had to be reflected in the dancer's movement very precisely. I felt there was no room for feeling and meaning. It was almost like an athletic "game" to match the sound. After a while I found it repetitive. Although I thought the dancers from the Ballet British Columbia very good, the only one to really catch my eye was Makaila Wallace. Half way through the ballet I simply focused my binoculars on her and neglected the rest of the ballet.

My favorite of the evening was Ripple Mechanics. I loved the tension between having 3 men and only 1 woman on stage. And what dancers! Carla took the sexy female role and ran with it full bore as usual. I will never tire of watching her in anything she does. But what really blew me away was the 3 men. Sonia Dawkins captured something about men I thought; something about what's possible for men to dance while displaying their full masculinity simply by how beautiful their bodies are (they were unclothed from the waist up) -- much like women are beautiful simply by virtue of how beautiful their bodies are. I also loved the way that the ballet started out with sounds (not music) where the dancers must have had to count and concentrate to know where they were in the dance; but then as soon as I started to long for music, it came with the beautiful melodies of Nina Simon and Jacqueline Fuentes. I was captivated. (Interestingly, Dawkins said in the Q&A session that she does things the "hard way" because she choreographes the movement first and then starts looking for music to fit.)

Two's Company was short and sweet. I thought it a great pick to be where it was in the program. This ballet was far more traditional than the rest of the program, and a nice respite from all the edgy modern stuff that came before (with more to follow). I, like Helene, enjoyed the opportunity to watch Patricia Barker in a role that fit her like a glove. She was partnered by Bold and Cruz: I don't think I've ever seen them so intimately together on stage before. Both have a tall strength that I felt matched Barker as well as could be done (Boal casting??).

After the first part of Bhangra Fever I was ecstatic. The curtain came down and not knowing any better, I thought the piece was over. I found it so novel (especially the hopping) with so many new movements I have never seen before (I haven't been to much modern dance), I felt transported to another world. But I too lost interest in the second half. There were moments, but I no longer felt the excitement I had in the first part. The piece is set to India Indian music (which I dearly love) and that was a treat. I suspect that Byrd was influenced by the erotic temple carvings in India, or perhaps the Karma Sutra, given some of the very erotic poses and movements in the second half. Few would call me a prude, but I did feel some of that eroticism was over the top, or maybe just done too often. Those passages felt somewhat out of context to me.

On a more positive note, I felt a sense of commitment in the Spectrum dancers that truly won me over. It showed up in their every move. How Allison Keppel found the energy to dance a such a high pitch and with such intensity for 30 minites I can only marvel at. I too was very struck by the power and stage presence of the "short dredlock" male dancer (Ty Alexander Cheng I believe his name is).

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I've seen A and B so far, and I'm writing for publication, so can't say too much right now, but thought that people might want to take a look at this article by Alistair Macaulay on Cunningham, since we just saw Inlets II in the B program. He speaks to a point I've been grappling with for awhile -- that Cunningham has, over his long, long career, really stayed at the edge of the artform, without really seeming to break a sweat about it.

Macaulay on Cunningham

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I've been thinking about bodies lately. In Ballet Arizona's performances of "Golden Section" from Twyla Tharp's The Catherine Wheel, the dance impetus was almost entirely horizontal. In contrast, there were four, very tall men: Ross Clarke, Michael Cook, Ian Poulis, and Wesley Tippetts. (Scooting around them, Paola Hartley looked like a jazzed up Little Red Riding Hood running in the woods.) But the true paragon of verticality was Kenna Draxton, who loomed over the stage. Her performance of the Tall Girl role in Rubies, less than an hour before, did not prepare me for that long, lean body in a simple leotard and shorts, with those amazing, lean-muscled legs, in the center of the stage and the action like the mast of a ship.

In tonights performance of Program C, Oregon Ballet Theatre danced Christopher Stowell's Adin, the first ballet he choreographed for his company. The ballet opened with a pas de deux for Kathi Martuza and Paul De Strooper, with a rush onstage by De Strooper through a portal created by curtains upstage left. (I'm assuming that the alphabetical listing of the dancers is coincidental.) He was joined by Martuza in plain beige leotard and tights, Perhaps it was because I was sitting unusually close in the Orchestra, but I could see every well-defined muscle of her legs, which sculpted the movement Stowell gave her. Alison Roper and Ronnie Underwood began their pas de deux as shadows against the cyclotron, which defined their movement in ink. When they emerged from the shadows, in matching beige tights/unitards, again, every muscle and gesture was clear.

In the middle section, Mary Sheldon Scott's Locate, a world premiere, was performed by members of her own company. There was maybe one women who would not have been put on the cigarette and coffee diet if she were to try to join a ballet company: too many hints of hip, small but visible breasts, lots of muscle, but each body envy-worthy, and, boy, could they move.


In Program C, each of the three sections of the program began with a short piece by Trisha Brown, followed by a pause, and the work of a different choreographer. The first Brown piece was Carmen Overture, set for five women, who walked a stylized, determined, earthbound walk, and six men, who did a stylized torero strut in profile, both across the stage. Miranda Weese and Christophe Maraval were prominent; from among the waves of bodies moving slowly across the stage, Maraval dominated the eye as the toreador in a short and sweet role.

Adin followed after the pause. Set to four Rachmaninoff songs orchestrated by conductor Neil DePonte, which, except for the famous "Vocalise," would not have been out of place in one of the great mid-century American musicals, Stowell created three complementary, but contrasting pas de deux and emotional landscapes, each rich with detail and structure. Martuza and De Strooper were the ardent first couple that was tension-filled without being melodrammatic, even when it ended badly. Anne Mueller and Steven Houser brilliantly danced a charming, delightful dance suggesting semi-mortal creatures. Alison Roper and Ronnie Underwood danced the "Vocalise" with a pure, legato quality. It's a difficult piece of music to keep up the flow on the static group, which makes it a wonderful piece for figure skating, and in the pas de deux, there were a number of skimming, low lifts. The finale blended traits of all three, but they remained differentiated. The lighting by Micahel Mazzola was evocative. My only reservation was the use of the shadow to begin both the "Vocalise" and finale.

OBT is a wonderful company, and the inclusion of Adin showed what strong dancers and artists can do with choreography that is worthy of them.

Opening the second part was Carmen Entre'acte, also set to Bizet's music. In it, Christophe Maraval stood upstage left, while Miranda Weese walked that stylized walk from Carmen Overture, until she reached Maraval, when she did a slow melt to the floor. She was a delight.

Scott's Locate followed. After a long solo for a woman, a number of couples in succession danced a series of sections turning in and around each other, with interlocking and interweaving arms. I suddenly realized that this modern dance company was dancing more of what looked like a social dance than anything I had seen all week. I panicked when one of the women broke in with a red costume (top/shorts) among the white-clad, but, luckily, the piece did not turn into The Dance House, Part II. Gradually, there was a red/white split among the costumes, and the partnering became more intense. I'm not sure what the underlying theme was, but I loved, loved the electronic score by Jarrad Powell.

The last part began with Spanish Dance, set to "Early Mornin' Rain" sung by Bob Dylan. In front of the curtain, which created a shallow, horizontal stage, were five women in white pants and tops, equally spaced, and in profile. When the song began, Miranda Weese, downstage left, began a horizontal walk, like a conga walk, with rhythmic, undulating hips, and she added a slow, sensual port de bras to high fifth. eventually, she spooned right into Kylee Kitchens, whose reaction was to arc backwards a bit in place, and to raise her hand, and eventually lead the conga line. This was repeated with Brittany Reid, Laura Gilbreath, and finally Kari Brunson. This dance was a scream, and Weese captured the hip movement perfectly. (Unless she and/or Brunson were wearing wigs, they cut their long tresses to shoulder-length.)

The program ended with the world premiere of Paul Gibson's Sense of Doubt, partly set for the opening gala last fall, with a pas de trois, double pas de deux, and solo. Gibson added the bookends: an opening, expansive pas de deux that closed softly, for Carla Korbes and Casey Herd, and a finale for all nine dancers. Mara Vinson replaced Chalnessa Eames from the gala, dancing the pas de trois with Benjamin Griffiths and James Moore, who reprised their roles brilliantly, and Jodie Thomas joined Rachel Foster, Lucien Postlewaite, and Josh Spell in the pas de deux, a rich, dynamic set of dances. Noelani Pantastico was like a laser beam in her extended solo, filling the stage.

In the finale, Paul Gibson showed how to give dancers meaty, fruitful choreography, but also how to make them move, which is not a given with a Philip Glass score. The piece received a well-deserved ovation from the crowd. In the midst of this extremely generous festival that reached out to the leaders in dance in and from the Pacific Northwest region, PNB started and ended with winning choreography from two of its own, Gaines and Gibson.

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I went to see round 2 (well, almost) of the Celebrate Seattle Festival, having expected to be able to see only one repeat. I was going to go to the Seattle Chamber Players concert at Cornish, but I couldn't not see Program C again. I'm really glad I did, because I looked at the schedule for next season, and, alas, I'll be out of the country during the "Director's Choice" program, when Paul Gibson's Sense of Doubt will be playing. (And since next season's "Laugh Out Loud Festival" Week 3 begins on Thursday, 17, not Tuesday, I'll miss that, too. But The Kirov dancing Forsythe and Balanchine vs. Susan Stroman isn't that hard a call.) I am so glad I got to see this ballet again.

I deliberately chose different seating sections for each program, so that I could see each work from a new perspective, and in addition to the differences between performance, seeing the works from the ground level vs. from above made a big difference to many of the pieces. In tonight's post-performance Q&A, Carla Korbes talked about how in the first performance, everyone's excited and nervous, but that in the second performance, there's a tendency to relax. She said that tonight, one factor may have been that everyone knew it was the final performance -- the company goes on a well-deserved three-week break before preparing for the "All Stravinsky" program in June -- and they could give it everything. Gibson agreed that tonight's performance was the strongest of the three-in-a-row. Seeing it from a different vantage point really helped to clarify the fantastic use of stage space in the ballet.

Schubert looked stronger to me from the Main Floor (orchestra) last Wednesday. From the First Tier (the back section of the first level), the limited way in which Alleyne used floor space was more obvious. While there were lovely images, there weren't 25 minutes of ideas in this work. I kept thinking of ice dancing though, and I think that a lot of this piece could be distilled into a beautiful free dance. (For Weaver and Poje, the young Canadians, perhaps?)

Seeing Patricia Barker again in Two's Company was bittersweet, as she dances her last performances in one work after another. (According to Boal, she will dance the main role in Symphony in Three Movements in the "All Stravinsky" program, which is the last program of the season, and then for her farewell performance on 10 June, in Le Corsaire Pas de Trois, Ballet Imperial (1st movement), -- edited to add: I got this wrong: it's actually excerpts from A Midsummer Night's Dream, Agon Pas de Deux [both pas de trois will be on the program as well], Swan Lake Act IV, and possibly something else, TBD.)

Schwa was a lot of fun to see from the Main Floor, to focus on individual performances and the choreographic detail, but it was equally strong from above. One of the finer moments in the ballet is in the finale, in the way that the lines of dancers responded to each other, and the way that the men and women did. It showed such a high level of craft, pulling back a little and building to the ending, and eschewing the temptation to get bigger and LOUDER.

Mara Vinson again was phenomenal in her solo, and she danced three of four works on Program A, as well as taking over the role in the Pas de Trois in Sense of Doubt the day before the premiere. According to Paul Gibson in the post-performance Q&A, Chalnessa Eames, who originated the role when it was previewed at the gala, had a family emergency, and couldn't perform. (She was also "She, who remembers" in the gala performance of Remembrances.) His second cast trio woman sprained her ankle, and Vinson, who is second cast for the Pas de Deux in Sense of Doubt stepped in. Kudos to Vinson for dancing such a difficult rep so brilliantly. And for Korbes for the wide variety of styles and roles she danced on all three programs: Cunningham, Dawkins, Gibson, and Caniparoli.

Inlets 2 was a lot richer from close up. Although these performances are the first I've seen of this work, I'm much more used to seeing Cunningham's company in smaller, more intimate venues like Jacob's Pillow. The entire piece felt more dynamic, and the dancers more connected to each other. It seemed flatter to me from First Tier last Wednesday.

When I saw Trisha Brown's Carmen Overture from the right side Main Floor, Miranda Weese was obscured for part of the work. It was only from First Tier that I could see that she and Christophe Maraval had the same choreography. From the floor side, the full impact of the wall -- Maraval -- she hits before she slowly sinks, walking into the ground. (He was upstage right, not left, as I wrote above.) While I really liked that the Brown piece was broken into multiple segments, each starting the "act," the sections were wonderfully serial and repetitive, in the way that soap operas and cartoons are.

Adin was lovely from above. I hadn't noticed the first time how the couple in "Vocalise" dances together, then seems to have a conversation, then separates into distinct thoughts, until finally coming together again. When they do, there is a tiny moment of Balanchine magic: just as Balanchine could to big sweeping music with a counter-intuitive quietness -- using corps couples in the main Raymonda adagio and in the repeat of the lush melody in the last movement of Serenade, the lifted beats in the Theme and Variations Pas de Deux on the big music -- when the music to "Vocalise" climaxes at the end, Christopher Stowell has the dancers quietly melt forward.

While it was clear how Paul Gibson make his dancers eat up floor space in Sense of Doubt from the floor, it was visceral from the First Tier. Eight dancers looked like twenty. Artistic Directors from across the country should be clammoring for this piece with eight brilliant roles.

While some of the music was taped -- the Piazzola for Gaines' Schwa, the soundscape, Fuentes, and Simone for Ripple Mechanics, all of the music fo Bhangra Fever, and the music for Locate -- the demand on the live musicians was unprecendented. Allan Dameron's playing in the Schubert Piano Trio No. 2 was crystalline. The balance between violinist Marjorie Kransberg-Talvi and cellist Page Smith was better with the intermediate strings -- Ingrid Frederickson's violin and Scott Ligocki's viola -- in the Dvorak, which was wonderfully rich. Jane Eaglen's rendition of "Traeume" set the mood of "She, who remembers" while the orchestra evoked "The Lovers." The John Cage score for Inlets 2, for four conch shell players, was performed by four percussionists, Paul Hansen, Matthew Kocmieroski, Karen Sunmark, and Mark Williams. The PNB orchestra played Neil DePonte's lovely orchestrations of Rachmaninoff songs with subtlety and grace. The crowning achievement of the orchestra was in the Philip Glass, especially in the deep strings.

In tonight's Q&A, Boal quoted Joan Acocella, who said that the 60's and 70's were the best time to be in NYC, because at 8pm, the curtain went up on NYCB. He said the people would show up, not necessarily knowing what ballets they would see, and that he hoped to gain the Seattle audience's trust so that they will come, no matter what's on the program. Of course, in the 60's and 70's, chances are, that the unknown ballet was by Balanchine or Robbins, program after program; Boal's job in creating a rep to engender that trust is more daunting, although he has three extremely talented choreographers in the company, each with his own voice: Gibson, Gaines, and Wevers.

It's hard to sum up the breath of this festival, but it really feels like it was the right thing to do. Peter Boal and the Company should be very proud of what they accomplished this week.

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Ripple Mechanics: The man standing with his arms in a modified high fifth is Batkhurel Bold. Carla Körbes is the woman on the box, and Kiyon Gaines, who choreographed Schwa. is the man on the box.

Two's Company: The man on the left is Batkhurel Bold. (He danced Peter Boal's role.) The couple is Patricia Barker (Stephanie Saland's role), partnered by Karel Cruz (Jeffrey Edwards' role).

Those photos are by Stuart Isett, so The New York Times sent or hired its own photographer.

Peter Boal mentioned in the post-performance Q&A on Wednesday night that Stephanie Saland was in the audience for the performance.

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Ripple Mechanics: The man standing with his arms in a modified high fifth is Batkhurel Bold. Carla Körbes is the woman on the box, and Kiyon Gaines, who choreographed Schwa. is the man on the box.

Two's Company: The man on the left is Batkhurel Bold. (He danced Peter Boal's role.) The couple is Patricia Barker (Stephanie Saland's role), partnered by Karel Cruz (Jeffrey Edwards' role).


Thank you Helene! Carla Körbes looks more toned than in her last years at NYCB; Patricia Barker always looks like Patricia Barker. Good to see what people I read about look like. What do you think of our vaunted Alastair Macaulay? Certainly here writing in his more reportorial style. Hopefully this publicity will alert those chickens who keep the NYC State Theater empty most of the summer to PNB (we will get Morris's magnjficent Mozart Dances, and a French "ballet" danced to architecture rather than music). What company could look better there? And PNB deserves a first class venue here.

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