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Louise Nadeau retirement

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KUOW broke this story


Marcie Sillman is an excellent interviewer, and I'm glad she got the scoop.

But what do you think this will do to the balance of women in the company?

I read the interview last night when I got the Google alert for PNB ("Louise Nadeau Retires From Pacific Northwest Ballet KUOW NPR - Seattle,WA,USA After 18 years, a mainstay of Pacific Northwest Ballet (PNB) is hanging up her toe shoes. PNB announced today that principal dancer Louise Nadeau will")

but the link is coming up "Page Not Found", and there is no longer a reference on the main page, both of which are referenced in a Google site search on the KUOW site.

I think part of the answer to your question lies in one of the answers Nadeau gave Sillman, which is that she was never the "IT" girl for the company. I think she was unlucky in timing to have been overshadowed by Barker during the Russell/Stowell years. I think if Barker had been out with injury/on maternity leave for prolonged periods, which she wasn't, or if Paul Gibson had made more works with Nadeau as his muse, as I dearly hoped after "Piano Dance", or Anne Derieux hadn't been second ballerina in the 90's, to use an NYCB analogy, she would have been McBride to Barker's Farrell. As much as Boal has given her opportunities over the last few years, he came five years too late, and he's moving the rep in a different direction.

I think there are a lot of PNB fans who will be heartbroken by this news, but I also think the real impact will be after she's retired, and suddenly people will realize that an exquisite flower in the garden is no longer there. There really is no one like her in PNB now among the women.

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RM Campbell's article in the Seattle PI:


On June 7, the season's last day, the company will stage a "Celebration of Louise Nadeau." Also, the Louise Nadeau Endowed Fund has been established in her honor.

In it she talks about why now, her experience at SAB, her transition from Kansas City Ballet to Pacific Northwest Ballet, her relationship with Russell and Stowell, and plans after retirements. There are quotes from Boal and partners Jeffrey Stanton and Olivier Wevers.

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A very good article. Thanks, Helene. Peter Boal -- who knew her from SAB days -- gives two of the finest, deepest compliments you can give to any dancer:

She is irreplaceable, [ ... ] She makes you go beyond herself to see the entire work.
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I think there are a lot of PNB fans who will be heartbroken by this news......

Put me in that camp. Just as Boal said "She is irreplaceable....".

There are many superlatives being used in connection with Louise, but I've always liked the word Helene uses above: "exquisite". That's Louise Nadeau....exquisite. Other thougths that come to my mind which perhaps don't get mentioned as often are her acting abilities and her humor. No one at PNB is more willing and more able to throw away all inhibition to become a character like Louise does. Remember her in Robbins "The Concert" last year?? I defy anyone to do ironic humor with the convincing abandon than Louise mustered then. Someone mentioned Lady Capulet in Maillot's R&J......WOW, that performance still sends shivers down my spine.

Yes, I'm heartbroken especially since I know just as PeterB said, she can't be replaced. Exquisite.

To quote her from Campbell's PI story:

"I began thinking about retirement two years ago," Nadeau said. "I could see it coming, especially with my recurring hip problems, but I wasn't ready yet. I am now. I have physical limitations I didn't used to have, and I didn't want people to say about me, 'I wish she had left the company last year.' I wanted to go out in good form and loving what I am doing. Also, Peter is bringing in some very contemporary ballets not suited to older ballerinas."

First Noelani, now Louise......OUCH.

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The program for Nadeau's retirement program on 7 June has been posted to the PNB website:

The Program:


Music: Peter I. Tchaikovsky

Choreography: George Balanchine

La Valse—Pas de deux**

Music: Maurice Ravel

Choreography: George Balanchine


Music: Gabriel Fauré

Choreography: George Balanchine

Chaconne—Pas de deux

Music: Christoph Willibald von Gluck

Choreography: George Balanchine

West Side Story Suite—"Cool" and "America"**

Music: Leonard Bernstein

Lyrics: Stephen Sondheim

Choreography: Jerome Robbins

Rubies—First movement

Music: Igor Stravinsky

Choreography: George Balanchine

Urlicht—PNB Premiere**

Music: Gustav Mahler

Choreography: William Forsythe

Staging: Otto Neubert

La Sonnambula—Sleepwalker pas de deux

Music: Vittorio Rieti

Choreography: George Balanchine

In the Night—Third pas de deux

Music: Frederic Chopin

Choreography: Jerome Robbins

Swan Lake—Act IV**

Music: Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky

Choreography: Kent Stowell

**Danced by Louise Nadeau

Program subject to change.

Wow -- a world premiere, and we'll get to see Nadeau's Anita!


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On the back of last night's cast insert was a list of pieces for Nadeau's tribute program, and "A Midsummer Night's Dream" is listed between "In the Night" and "Swan Lake". No indication of what excerpt or whether Nadeau will dance it, though.

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According to Boal in the Q&A tonight (Friday), Nadeau chose all ten ballets, and she wrote a paragraph about why each was meaningful to her. She will be dancing in four sections. (Four are asterisked above.) He said that all principals and soloists would have roles.

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According to Peter Boal in today's Q&A, Louise Nadeau has been teaching in Level VIII, and her students will perform in her retirement performance.

He's hoping that after she takes six months off, and finishes sleeping in, that she'll return to teach.

Edited to add:

Boal also said that Otto Neubert, who had danced in Stuttgart, remembered one of William Forsythe's first works, "Urlicht" (to music by Mahler) and thought it would be beautiful for the occasion. He contacted Forsythe, who agreed to let Neubert stage it for Nadeau and Olivier Wevers, very generously for a token fee.

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Some people ease their way into retirement, but not Louise Nadeau: for the last rep she learned two new roles -- Girl in Green in "Dances at a Gathering" and "After the Rain Pas de Deux" -- and danced the iconic Second Movement in "Symphony in C", and for her retirement performance she learned one new role and performed two: William Forsythe's "Urlicht" and the singing role of Anita in "West Side Story Suite", which she was unable to dance in the penultimate rep due to an ankle injury.

In a lovely booklet accompanying the program, Nadeau wrote about her attachment to each of the works she chose for the program. As previously noted, she danced in four, the Forsythe and Robbins, and her opening Eighth Waltz from "La Valse" and closing Act IV of Kent Stowell's "Swan Lake". A wonderful touch was the BBC video of her performance of the Act II Divertissement from "A Midsummer Night's Dream" (with Olivier Wevers), projected the height and width of the proscenium.

The program opened with the first half of the first movement of "Serenade", with Carla Korbes dancing the Waltz Girl entrance, and Maria Chapman the Russian. The corps was a blend of senior, experience corps members, new corps, and a few professional students who had danced often and formidably in the last rep. Nadeau made her first entrance in "La Valse", partnered by Jeffrey Stanton.

Peter Boal then came in front of the curtain, offering a tribute to Nadeau as fellow student, dancer, teacher, and person. He recalled that as SAB students, Nadeau convinced him to hop the fence once night at Rockefeller Center, where they glided around the rink by themselves, until chased off by a security guard. He wasn't sure she'd remember, but when he joined as AD, she presented him with a mug with a picture of the skating rink.

Boal's remarks were followed by Mara Vinson performing Verdy's "Emeralds" solo, and then by excerpts from "Chaconne". Nadeau's Level VIII students provided a beautiful context by dancing the intro to the first pas de deux in "Chaconne", followed by Carrie Imler and Stanko Milov in the lyrical pas de deux.

The first half of the program ended with two excerpts from "West Side Story Suite": "Cool" danced and sung by Seth Orza, backed by the Jets, and then Nadeau's debut as Anita in "America", a deeply funny take on the role, accompanied by the Sharks women. The third movement of "Rubies", danced by Rachel Foster and Jonathan Porretta, with Ariana Lallone as Tall Girl, opened the second half of the program.

The next work, "Urlicht", was the highlight of the evening for me. The work was a perfect fit for Nadeau's lyricism and line and her partnership with Olivier Wevers. (Melissa Plagemann was the mezzo soloist in the fourth movement of Mahler's "Resurrection" Symphony, No. 2). It was followed by Miranda Weese's last performance before her retirement, of the "Sleepwalker" Pas de Deux from "La Sonnambula", with Lucien Postlewaite as her Poet.

Kaori Nakamura and Batkhurel Bold danced the Third Pas de Deux from "In the Night", after which the most emotionally resonant moment of an emotional night came when Nadeau appeared from the stage right wings, dressed as the Swan Queen, to kneel at edge of the stage to present a large bouquet to pianist Dianne Chilgren who had played at the side orchestra, the tribute of one great artist to another.

The film of "Midsummer Night's Dream" Divertissement was screened next, and then Kent Stowell and Francia Russell spoke their tributes to Nadeau.

The dancing ended with "Swan Lake" Act IV, with Nadeau partnered by Karel Cruz, during and after which enough audience tears flowed to create the lake itself. The company gathered on stage behind Nadeau, and she was presented with flowers and kisses by Boal, Russell, Stowell, her friend, retired PNB ballerina Anne Derieux, accompanists, partners present and past, and those usually behind-the-scenes. The night ended with a shower of flowers from the audience until the final curtain.

When Patricia McBride ended her retirement performance with the gentle solo from "Harlequinade" that concludes with a simple bow to the audience, I didn't think I'd ever see anything so gracious, but this night equaled it.

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In the new Ballet Review Martha Ullman West has written an article "Todd Bolender: Kansas City, The Early Years", and the photo on the opposite page shows Bolender, in a suit, coaching two dancers in costume: Louise Nadeau and Deena Budd.

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