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PNB Gala casting

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I hope you all will be posting about this performance. Having seen -- and been puzzled by -- Jean-Christophe Maillot's strange La Belle (au Bois Dormant), I'm very interested in what you think of his take on Romeo and Juliette, and how the Seattle audience responds to it.

Also, Wevers in the Parsons solo Caught, which coincidentally I'm seeing tonight with Parsons' company.

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The Seattle Post Intelligencer has a PNB gala rehearsal photo gallery by Grant M. Haller on its website, currently linked from the front page "Featured Galleries."


Direct links aren't working, but there are some terrific photos; I hope I haven't made a mess of identifying the dancers:


Olivier Wevers and strobe effects, #2, #3

The Concert

Looks like Maria Chapman's arches to me (white pocketbook). Maybe with Leslie Rausch?

Fur Alina

Carla Korbes and Batkhurel Bold, #5, #6

Ballet Imperial

Miranda Weese and Casey Herd #10, #11

Mara Vinson, with Seth Orza (l) and Karel Cruz ® #12

Miranda Weese and Corps #14

Kara Zimmerman (l) and Kylee Kitchens ®

Romeo and Juliet

Lucien Postlewaite, #16

Postlewaite and Noelani Pantastico #19, #20

Did anyone go? I know it's only 6:15am in Seattle, but I'm jonesing on the other side of the globe for news.

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The Concert

Looks like Maria Chapman's arches to me (white pocketbook). Maybe with Leslie Rausch?

Definitely Leslie Rausch. I'd also guess Maria Chapman for the other one. And the man must be Wevers.

P.S. I didn't go. Previews sort of spoil anticipation for me, so I rarely go. I'll be there Thursday and Friday tho.

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A short report:

The company has been placing more emphasis on these season opening events with Boal as AD -- more advertising, specific announcements (like promotions), a couple of notches up in swankiness. It's interesting to see how the environment of the company, and their perceived place in the larger cultural community, has shifted in the last couple of years.

As a performance, it had the strengths and weaknesses of your usual 'bits and pieces' programming -- the curtain went up and down a lot. Still, we did see a couple of complete works, so it wasn't all Cliff Notes.

Ballet Imperial really seems to reflect its time period to me -- the particular style of the virtuoso work and the mass of the corps feels like the 1940s. Mara Vinson looked very comfortable in the solo ballerina role, very sure of herself in the center of the stage. I was glad to see Miranda Weese in the main ballerina role -- between my schedule and her injuries last year I saw almost none of her performances. No surprise for the NYCB audience, but she gave a very sophisticated performance -- she's obviously thought through the role in a deep way, building her interpretation over the whole ballet. She uses stillness very effectively throughout, but particularly in the first extended sequence -- she made it very easy to see the structure of the work through the prism of her dancing. Casey Herd was a very capable partner, but I did wish that Christophe Maraval hadn't retired -- he had a very adult personae on stage that would have meshed well with Weese.

We saw all of Edwaard Liang's Fur Alina and David Parsons' Caught. The Liang duet to Arvo Part solo piano is very well balanced with the delicate austerity of the score. It emphasizes the separation between the two dancers -- Korbes and Bold did very well. She's done lovely work in the classical rep, but she's really stretched herself in more contemporary roles, literally and figuratively. She's very specific with her gestures, and that serves well here.

The Parsons' is 25 years old, and though it still does what it did when it premiered, it feels a bit dated to me. Audience response now is more amusement than the astonishment I remember from back then, but I suppose that works too. Olivier Wevers does a fine job with it, but he was more interesting in the Robbins later in the program.

I'll be very interested in seeing how the PNB audience takes to the Maillot/Prokofiev Romeo later in the season, especially since it's only been a few years since we saw the Stowell/Tchaikovsky. We got the balcony pas de deux, which doesn't seem to have a balcony (even though we heard lots of banging and shoving from behind the curtain just before the duet). Since there's no ur-text for R&J, there isn't the instant 'but that's not how it's supposed to be' response to a new production, but from the snip we saw last night, Maillot has a very specific, almost non-romantic vision of the couple. Lots of gawky moments, without being forced, and passion that's more awkward than melodramatic. One moment that really stuck, though -- he's laying still on the floor and she has to thump on his chest to see if he'll respond -- in the context of the full work that has potential for major angst. Lucien Postlewaite and Noelani Pantastico were right inside the physicality of the characters -- I don't know who else is cast for the full work in February (the ubiquitous Valentine's Day programming) but it will be interesting to see if there are other interpretations that work this well.

The show finished up with Robbins' The Concert, which made everyone happy. Louise Nadeau has a wafty streak that serves her really well here, in a big floppy hat, and Carrie Imler was drawing from the same place that she found her Princess Mother last year in Swan Lake -- she's like a variation on an Edith Wharton doyenne.

As promised, Boal announced two promotions -- Mara Vinson to principal and Lucien Postlewaite to soloist. His is probably the most overdue -- since he stepped in at the last minute in Prodigal Son in 2004, he's been dancing far above his contract ranking. Vinson's development has been more gradual -- she made the performing transition from corps to soloist, from being part of the group to being in front of the pack, just as she got promoted, and I imagine that process will just keep unfolding now. Her dancing last night was certainly in line with that evolution.

The regular season starts in two weeks, with the all-Balanchine program, so there's not a lot of time to speculate between now and then. Last night felt like the flourish at the top of the ski run, before you plunge down the side of the mountain.

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Thank you so much, sandik :)

The Concert may be my favorite Jerome Robbins ballet. I'm very glad to see Nadeau challenged with interesting roles, especially with the retirement of her great partner, Christophe Maraval (A Month in the Country, A Month in the Country, A Month in the Country...). Imler is the finest actress among the women at PNB, in my opinion, although Maria Chapman can give her a run for her money. Did Wevers play the Grouncho Marx character?

"Adult" is the perfect description of Maraval's presence. I keep looking at the rep and casting him in my head, alas.

From your description, if I can take an evening of Maria Alexandrova shrieking and biting her Romeo, although I admit after a while this became tedious, Maillot's will fall somewhere in, rather than outside, the spectrum. My concern is that Kent Stowell's The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet will fade away. I think it is the best of Stowell's full-lengths, with a far more romantic take on the story than can be extracted from the Prokovief score of most other productions, and provides more room for subtle characterizations as a result. Having worked on this year's Calendar and having seen what companies across the world are actually producing, it could make the centerpiece of a company's season. However, it's not even a likely candidate to survive outside PNB -- for an orchestra to learn the the custom score instead of pulling out the Prokofiev alone would be prohibitive -- and it doesn't have the iconic status or financial pull of Stowell's Nutcracker, which I admire a great deal, to give it a right place here.

That is fantastic news about the promotions. Postlewaite may have starred as Prodigal, but my favorite Principal performance of his was at one of the Theme and Variations's from a year or two ago. He's been quietly taking on great partnering roles like in Emeralds, for example, as well as the more visible ones, like Villella's role in Rubies in last season's "Stravinsky 125." My favorite performance of all of his, so far, has been as one of the four Dukes in Sleeping Beauty, a "nothing" role in which he was invested every second on stage. I look forward to seeing him in Square Dance, which was the first major role in which I remember seeing Peter Boal, whom I think Postlewaite more than a bit resembles. I think Mara Vinson has been doing a superb job taking on one or two performances of major roles, like in Emeralds and Aurora, in which she visibly grew, carrying a full length on the McCaw Hall stage for the first time, and in which she would be compared to more experienced Principals who gave ravishing performances. She's been quietly blossoming and has been stellar in secondary leads. I'm glad she's been recognized.

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That is fantastic news about the promotions.

It's always great to see promotions especially since in ballet, unlike many other fields, promotions are almost, if not always, well earned.

Postlewaite may have starred as Prodigal, but.........Peter Boal, whom I think Postlewaite more than a bit resembles.

Bingo on he and Boal. It's quite remarkable really. I've been imagining the coaching Boal likely has been giving Postlewaite on that role. I couldn't be happier that Lucien is now a solist....he's been dancing that way for a long time.

I think Mara Vinson has been doing a superb job taking on one or two performances of major roles.........She's been quietly blossoming and has been stellar in secondary leads. I'm glad she's been recognized.

Mara seems like a real pro to me. I don't have doubts that she deserves the promo to principal; however, (you knew it was coming :)) for whatever reason Mara does not excite me -- never has. Too cool and precise for me perhaps. I hate to say it, but I actually avoid casts where she has a major part.

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