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PNB Midsummer

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There is also the "Choreographers' Showcase" sandwiched in between on April 9, 2008 at 7:30pm. There will be new (and naturally somewhat experimental) pieces by the following PNB dancers wearing their choreographer's hat that nite:

Kiyon Gaines

Barry Kerollis

Kylee Kitchens

Stacy Lowenberg

Stanko Milov

Anton Pankevitch

Jonathan Porretta

Olivier Wevers

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I was planning to see both performances last Saturday and to be awake for this past Thursday's, and made plans for this weekend. Unfortunately, a business trip was extended, and the only performance I could attend was Thursdays, having had about 10 hours sleep over the prior three days. I thought I might be able to last at least through the Act II Pas de Deux and sneak out during the applause that would follow, but, after zoning out so much during Act I, and realizing that I wasn't even aware I was missing sections, I thought it was better for the people around me to leave at intermission, even though it was painful to miss what would be my last chance to see Pantastico in the role.

Normally I wouldn't write anything on half a performance, but A Midsummer Night's Dream has two distinct parts, and there are a few comments I'd like to make about Act I. Chalnessa Eames danced Butterfly, and the bloom in the phrasing of her arms as they rose to the sky to the gentle strings at the end of the act was magnificent to behold. Lesley Rausch's Titania isn't fully realized yet -- that I'm looking forward to in a few years -- but she has a regal elegance in her portrayal of a formidable Titania. The scene that approached perfection, though, was the Donkey Pas de Deux (with Barry Kerrolis, who was a superb Bottom). Yes, in the plot, Oberon is setting up Titania. But he's also giving us -- she doesn't appreciate it -- the sense of what Titania in love might be like, were she not hemmed in by convention, hierarchy, experience, and the enervating effects of Oberon-management. I've never seen Rausch dance with such gentleness and tenderness. It made me wish that Oberon had never brought her to her senses.

Weese also gave a gentle, sweet performance as Hermia, and Wevers matched hers. She did not play the scene in which she recognizes a distraught Helena and Lysander together for laughs, as often is done. What a privilege to have casting like this among the mortals, with Casey Herd dancing a powerful Demetrius.

There was a lot that I liked about Benjamin Griffiths' Oberon, especially the way he projects authority through carriage in a simple tendu back and his clean line and articulated steps and positions. I felt he forced the big jumps, though: they took a noticeable effort compared to the quietness and clarity of his beats and grand allegro. (Maybe it was the jetlag, but the tempo of the "Scherzo" seemed inhuman.) It always astonishes me how Carrie Imler is cast in "tall girls'" roles, like Hippolyta. Only afterwards do you remember that she's not really that tall, because she dances as if she's Barker's height and with great breadth.

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