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More Dancers Leaving by End of 2010-11 Season

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Pacific Northwest Ballet Dancer Stacy Lowenberg Announces Retirement

Following a 17-Year Career, Final Performances During 2010-2011 Season

Seattle, WA – Pacific Northwest Ballet corps de ballet dancer Stacy Lowenberg has announced she will be retiring at the end of the 2010-2011 season, following a 17-year career, 14 years of which were spent with PNB.

"Being a ballet dancer has been a dream come true for me,” said Ms. Lowenberg. “I love what I do and feel honored to have danced professionally for Pacific Northwest Ballet. I have learned so much on this journey and hope everyone who has watched and supported me and been a part of my life will enjoy watching my life evolve into a new beginning and a new journey."

Ms. Lowenberg trained at North Carolina School of the Arts, School of American Ballet, Hungarian National Ballet, and Pacific Northwest Ballet School. She joined Pacific Northwest Ballet as an apprentice in 1994, joined Oregon Ballet Theatre in 1996, and returned to PNB in 1999.

“Stacy has been a cherished presence on our stage for many years,” said PNB Artistic Director Peter Boal. “As a performer she will be missed. We are all excited about her successes in choreography and look forward to the next chapter for this gifted individual.”

Highlights in Ms. Lowenberg's career include Titania, Helena and Hippolyta in A Midsummer Night's Dream; Lilac Fairy in The Sleeping Beauty; Eliot Feld's Intermezzo; George Balanchine's Agon, Divertimento No. 15, Symphony in C, Brahms-Schoenberg Quartet, Emeralds, Serenade (Dark Angel) and The Four Temperaments; Todd Bolender's Souvenirs (Vamp); Twyla Tharp's Nine Sinatra Songs; Hans Van Manen's Five Tangos; Lynn Taylor-Corbett's The Ballad of You and Me and Mercury; William Forsythe's In the middle, somewhat elevated and One Flat Thing, reproduced; Paul Taylor's Roses; Marius Petipa's Paquita; Mark Morris' A Garden; Susan Stroman's Take Five...More or Less; Kent Stowell's Carmina Burana, Nutcracker (Flora, Peacock), Cinderella (Summer Variation), Swan Lake, Firebird, Coppelia (Hymen Solo), and Silver Lining.

Ms. Lowenberg originated leading roles in Val Caniparoli's Torque, Dominique Dumais' Scripted in the Body and Time and Other Matter, Nicolo Fonte's Within/Without, Paul Gibson's Rush, Donald Byrd's Seven Deadly Sins, James Canfield's Charmed Quark (cq) and Paul Vasterling's Seasons.

In addition to her professional dancing career, Ms. Lowenberg is continuing her dedication to her artistry through choreography. She has choreographed seven pieces and received rave reviews. Her works have been shown at McCaw Hall, Bumbershoot, Meydenbauer Theatre and on film for the Beijing Olympics. (The Beijing choreography was danced in Seattle before the 2008 Olympics.) Ms. Lowenberg has choreographed for Ballet Theatre of Des Moines, Pacific Northwest Ballet School, PNB Choreographers’ Showcase, and Ballet Bellevue. She will premiere a new work in Seattle Dance Project’s upcoming “Project 4” performances, January 28 – February 5 at The Erickson Theater on Capitol Hill. (www.seattledanceproject.org)

Ms. Lowenberg has also taught at Pacific Northwest Ballet School. In addition to her dance and choreography career, she is a Stott-certified Pilates instructor for PNB Conditioning and in her own private practice. Ms. Lowenberg has been a lululemon Ambassador and has been featured in Dance Magazine and Dance Europe as well as in the book "Redheads 2010."

In an article written by Francia Russell (PNB Founding Artistic Director), Ms. Russell wrote that "In a wide variety of ballets Stacy Lowenberg has shown she is not only a wonderful dancer but one who can be alternately lyrical, witty, coy, seductive, luscious, and dramatic. Stacy's beauty, personality, and technique complement one another in all her roles and make her an immensely appealing performer. In the studio, Stacy's intelligence and openness ensure that she continues to improve herself. And onstage and off she is a favorite of ballet fans, donors, and volunteers. Stacy is also a captivating teacher of young children when she has time to teach in PNB's School."

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In the press release for the Season Encores Performance, PNB announced that:

In addition to the previously announced departures of principal dancers Ariana Lallone and Jeffrey Stanton as well as corps de ballet dancer Stacy Lowenberg, the Season Encore Performance will be the audience’s chance to offer a fond farewell to company members including principal dancers Stanko Milov and Olivier Wevers, soloist Chalnessa Eames and corps de ballet dancers Barry Kerollis and Josh Spell.

“The Season Encore Performance will be, without a doubt, one of the most memorable performances of the year; a bittersweet opportunity to celebrate a remarkable season while bidding a heartfelt bon voyage to these departing dancers,” said Artistic Director Peter Boal. “PNB and our audiences have been graced by brilliant performances from these company members, in an extraordinary range of roles. They have executed classical, contemporary and character roles all with equal ease. We’ve also witnessed the birth of four innovative choreographers through creations by Barry, Olivier, Stacy and Stanko for our School and Company dancers over the years. They will each be missed as members of our company but we are most grateful for their myriad contributions.”

:( :( :( :(

We have threads about Ariana Lallone's departure and Jeffrey Stanton's retirement.

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There are 44 members of the company plus two apprentices. Eight dancers leaving in one season means over 18% of the company members and over 17% of the company including apprentices are leaving in one season.

There are 13 Principal Dancers on the roster, and with four leaving, that's a change of 30%. There are eight Soloists currently, and we lose one. Losing three corps members of 23 is ~ 13% change.

With both Spell and Kerollis leaving, Kiyon Gaines is the remaining senior corps man from the Russell/Stowell era. Next year there will be three senior corps women remaining in the company: Kylee Kitchens, Brittany Reid, and Jessika Anspach.

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I'm devastated. I guess the "ballet recession" has finally hit Seattle. Some departures I understand, others I am totally mystified by. I can only hope that this is primarily financially driven.

If anyone hears publicly what the future career plans are for the younger dancers who are leaving, please post it.

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I am not surprised by the departure of Mr. Wevers, as he just signed a JOA for Whim Whim at a nearby theater. That is his passion and he is clearly pursuing it, which is fantastic. Also not surprised by the departure of Mr. Milov, as he injured his elbow before I left for South America, now I am back, and it doesn't seem he has been able to perform in the interim, he did not perform in the recent mixed bill, and is not listed for the opening weekend of MidSummer. I admire the dancing of both men. Add Stanton, and we're losing all the height of our principal men, with the exception of Mr. Bold.

I am more surprised by the departures of Mr. Spell and Mr. Kerollis, although I suppose if they've never been promoted out of the corps after so many years, the writing is on the wall (I still think Mr. Gaines should have been promoted this past September, as he most often performs soloist roles, not corps roles).

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Karel Cruz is also very tall, and Seth Orza looks tall to me. William Lin-Yee is the only very tall man in the corps, with Tisserand and Bartee looking like the next tallest. Price Suddarth, an apprentice this year, looked tall in "Place a Chill". As Peter Boal only half-joked in a Q&A, "Our average height for women is 5'9". Our average height for men is 5'9"."

Either Peter Boal or Otto Neubert said in a Q&A that they had hoped Milov would be back for "Cinderella", but that didn't happen. In the past he's danced at least Theseus in "A Midsummer Night's Dream"; I saw him in 2004. There is only mime and gesture in Act I, but some lifts in Act II where Theseus partners Hippolyta. I don't know if he's danced Act II Divertissement. In "Giselle" Albrecht and Peasant pas de deux both have partnering and lots of solo dancing, while Hilarion can have some strenuous dancing in Act II and lots of physical mime in Act I. Looking at Encores, only "Nine Sinatra Songs" jumps out to me as an obvious fit, but it's also a fit for Eames, and Spell.

Olivier Wevers' own announcement lists his last performance as 17 April in "A Midsummer Night's Dream", which sounds like his last bow will be as choreographer, which would be bittersweet -- the program is full of works with roles he's performed -- but fitting. "Monster" was performed in January by Ty Alexander Cheng and Kylie Lewallen, both from Spectrum Dance Theatre, Andrew Bartee and Vincent Michael Lopez (also Spectrum), and Melody Herrera (Houston Ballet) and Lucien Postlewaite. I wonder which of the three parts will be presented, and whether the original dancers will perform.

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ok, ok, I take it back, we still have two tall male principals, but we need more. Can anyone cite (with links) info for the PNB 2010 budget and going forward? Are they running a deficit? Balanced budget? In the black? It seems to me this will affect whether or not these talented dancers are replaced, or if the company reduces to less than 40 to make numbers work.

In other news, my mother's former school district, where she taught elementary music for 25 years, is seriously considering eliminating all elementary music - choral and orchestra - for the 2012 year. The time teachers have for planning while the kids are in music classes would be made up by shortening the school day by 30 minutes (sending them home early).

We are living in very difficult times, there really just isn't enough money to go around, and the votes are not there to raise taxes (sin, property, or general sales tax) to make up the difference.

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At the Q/A after opening night Josh Spell was the featured dancer, and was very cagey about not saying what he was going to be doing after leaving PNB. He did say that he wanted to keep dancing, and implied that he had at least one possibility in mind -- the impression I got is that he's negotiating a contract somewhere and doesn't want to say anything before the agreement is signed.

As we say in my family, you'll jinx it if you blab.

But I do know for certain that Chalnessa Eames will be performing in a new duet by Twyla Tharp, made for the Command Performance show in Dallas at the Winspear on April 23. This is an annual gala sponsored by TITAS, a music and dance presenter in North Texas. The press release lists her as a part of Twyla Tharp Dance, but she's not a member of the company at this point. She's dancing with Charlie Hodges, who blew everyone away here in the premiere of Afternoon Ball -- I'm hoping that someone in the Dallas area will post about the event.

from the press release

"Repertoire for Command Performance:

Armenia – A TITAS commissioned world premiere by Twyla Tharp. Charles Hodges and Chalnessa Eames.

Cruel World – By James Kadelka. Julie Kent and Guillaume Côté.

Manon Act I Pas de Deux - Julie Kent and Guillaume Côté.

Splendid Isolation III - By Jessica Lang. Alicia Graff and Jamar Roberts

Caught - By David Parsons. Miguel Quiñones.

Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux – By George Balanchine. Yuriko Kajiya and Jared Matthews.

Le Corsaire Grand Pas de Deux - Victoria Jaiani and Miguel Angel Blanco.

Pretty Ballet Pas de Deux – By James Kadelka. Victoria Jaiani and Miguel Angel Blanco.

Dying Swan - Version by Les Ballets Trockadero. Joshua Grant."

And yes, I know there are misspellings there.

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I don't "miss" dancers that much except during the period when they actually leave. There are exceptions. Louise Nadeau is one, and I know Chalnessa will be another.

I had a very sad moment last night during the Theseus/Hippolyta duet, remembering Stanko Milov as Theseus dancing with Arianna Lallone -- Karel Cruz did a great job, but I missed Milov's regal stature.

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Rosie Gaynor has an article posted on the website SeattleDances, with more information about the 8 dancers leaving, and stating that PNB plans to audition and fill all 8 positions (so the company is not contracting in size due to the economy).

In the meantime, Peter Boal, head of PNB, is busy auditioning for these eight positions, all of which he plans to fill.
There are rumors about where these dancers will be next season. A few facts float up to the top, however. Some will stay in Seattle. Some plan not to. A few may teach at PNB. Lallone joins Teatro ZinZanni for their fall show. Lowenberg will continue to teach Pilates and will dance locally. Wevers will focus on his successful two-year-old company, Whim W’Him

Best wishes to all, and secretly hoping we'll get Sokvannar Sar back from the east coast!

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Thanks Jayne. I find this puzzling. The news that PNB plans to fill all 8 slots (assuming it's true) puzzles me; it also blows my theory that many of the departures are for purely financial reasons. I guess I could reconcile the situation if I assume that the 8 new dancers will all be entry level and therefore save money over the old salaries. It would presumably also provide opportunities for Professional Division PNB students......God knows we gotten some incredible dancers out of PNB's PD in recent years.

But frankly, I'm very surprised that 8 new dancers are going to be hired (perhaps there is some sort of misunderstanding).

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From PNB's Media Relations Director, Gary Tucker:

Departing PNB corps de ballet dancer Barry Kerollis has announced that he will be joining BalletX starting June 20.

Philadelphia-based BalletX is a contemporary ballet company dedicated to commissioning new work. Co-artistic Directors Matthew Neenan and Christine Cox seek to expand the boundaries of ballet both by choreographing new works themselves and by building a repertory of works by emerging talents and established choreographers. Since 2007, BalletX has been the Resident Dance Company of Philadelphia’s The Wilma Theater. In its first three seasons at The Wilma, the Company presented 21 world premieres, including interdisciplinary multimedia work incorporating ballet, spoken text, video, originally composed music and imaginative set design. For more information, visit www.balletx.org.

Said Mr. Kerollis when announcing his new position, “I have always excelled in PNB's contemporary programming. During my time at PNB, I have had the most rewarding experiences in those works. I’ve realized that I am really interested in exploring the contemporary side of my dancing. This is the perfect place for me to do that. It is only an added bonus that the company is in Philadelphia and that I will be close to home.” (Mr. Kerollis is from Downingtown, PA.)

Seattle’s last chances to see Mr. Kerollis dance will be during the upcoming performances of Giselle (June 3-12) and the Season Encore Performance (June 12). As a choreographer, his newest work, It Gets Better, will be presented as part of the June 18 performance of NEXT STEP (formerly the PNB Choreographers’ Showcase).

Congratulations to Mr. Kerollis!

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The season encore was 100% a celebration of the departing dancers, so I will include my thoughts in this thread. If you weren't there, you really missed out, sorry! This was an emotional night, with a audience of balletomanes, and outbursts of applause you normally associate with ABT or at figure skating competitions.

We started off with Petite Mort (once of my favs), 4 of the 8 dancers were departing dancers (Eames, Spell, Lallone, Stanton) so this was very special, indeed. Seattle audiences love this piece, which oddly was the only reprise from earlier in the 2010/2011 season. Peter Boal followed with personal remarks, praising each performer in turn. There was sustained applause for the 4 departing principals, but also the other performers.

Agon was next, with Stanton partnering Maria Chapman, and reminding everyone that PNB is a Balanchine orthodox company. Next came both choreography and dancing from Stacy Lowenberg, partnered by Karel Cruz in 'Rushed Goodbye'. Agon is a tough act to follow, it's a benchmark ballet, and Lowenberg choreo isn't in the same league. It was pretty, and instantly forgettable. The audience loves Lowenberg, and fans raced to the front to throw flowers onto the stage - at least a hundred.

The dancing was back in high gear with 'Slaughter on Tenth Avenue' featuring Lesley Rausch (she was "on") and Stanton returning as the hoofer. Audience again eating it up. 'Nine Sinatra Songs' section 'One More for the Road' was the final performance for Chalnessa Eames, who danced 'drunk' with Jerome Tisserand. My seatmate complained afterwards "he was a horrible partner!" and I had to explain the tripping on stage was on purpose. :tiphat: Multiple bouquets of roses were presented, including from what appeared to be many family members.

This was a marathon for Jeffrey Stanton, who returned next with Carla Korbes for 'Who Cares' pas de deux to 'The Man I Love'. I really don't love the costumes for this dance (never have), but the dancing was very pretty. A white screen was lowered in front of the curtain, and a film projected an old video excerpt. It was Mr. Stanton as a child, tapping to a selection of Gershwin songs. Really cute, they should do this for all the departing performers!

The screen and curtain rose, to show Mr. Stanton alone on stage in top hat and tails, tapping away to 'Silver Lining' and Jerome Kern song 'I'll be Hard to Handle' from the broadway musical and hollywood film "Roberta". A standing O from the audience, flowers from each of the female principals, Peter Boal and founding directors Kent Stowell and Francia Russell.

I'll post about the remaining performances in a separate post, as this one is getting quite long!

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After Intermission, the curtain rose to 'Rubies' 3rd Act with (of course!) Ms. Lallone as tall girl, and Kaori Nakamura / Jonathan Porretta as the principal couple. Departing corps members Barry Kerollis and Josh Spell were also performing their final roles at PNB and received flower bouquets at the end. The audience stood and cheered as if Ms. Lallone was Michelle Kwan at US Nationals.

After a short pause, Olivier Wever's choreography 'Monster' was performed by Andrew Bartee and Lucien Postlewaite. Mr. Wevers chose to have his choreo represented - rather than dancing himself. I missed the debut while I was in South America, but the audience responded very well. This was very modern, with 6 flourescent lights lining the sides of the stage (3 per side). Poetry about discrimination and hatred towards homosexuality was read in darkness before taped music started the dancing. Afterwards Mr. Wevers took the stage to a resounding cheer from the audience. Flowers were presented, and his husband (Mr. Postelwaite) planted an affectionate kiss.

Next we saw a film highlighting Ms. Lallone's many performances over 24 years with PNB. She then took the stage in Kent Stowell's 'Carmen', partnered by Karel Cruz (in his debut as Escomillo). I wasn't a huge fan of this ballet when it debuted, but I liked it better here, without the background video images. Ulysses Dove's 'Red Angels' followed (and I think is becoming a calling card for PNB) - with Laura Gilbreath, Batkhurel Bold, Carrie Imler and Lucien Postelwaite. Mr. Postelwaite got the biggest cheers, but I liked them all. Mary Rowell reprised on electric violin. I do wonder how this music :flowers: would sound on electric guitar....

Val Caniparoli came out and described working with Ms. Lallone for the first time. The tall cool glass of water was obvious in the studio from the very first, and he enjoyed walking around town with her to observe the reactions from men. Finally, Ms. Lallone took the stage for the finale to a solo from Caniparoli's 'Lambarena', which was acquired from PNB specifically for her talents. She smiled throughout (a good way to go out, and hard to cry when you're smiling) and audienced whooped. Everyone stood for an emotional standing ovation, and the bouquets included a basket about the size of an easychair that appeared to be from the stage hands.

An emotional, satisfying evening, with dancing that I cannot fault for any technical difficulties. My only wish - and perhaps he did not want it - was for a film montage showing Stanko Milov's performances, followed by a bow on stage. He did not have to do it, but it was his due, and I think the audience would have responded with tremendous ovations. He gave us 12 years of noble dancing, romantic charm and passion. But alas, it did not happen.

Wish you were there.

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Everyone stood for an emotional standing ovation, and the bouquets included a basket about the size of an easychair that appeared to be from the stage hands.

FYI, those stage hands were former PNB dancer Jordan Pacitti (in light pants) and former PNB dancer and current Eastside School Principal of the PNB School Nicolas Ade.

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This started out as a post about Midsummer Night's Dream, but wound up being about the octet of dancers leaving the company this year, so I'm posting it in this slot. Apologies if it feels like it would make more sense elsewhere.

Midsummer is a great ballet to check in with people at different parts of their career – unlike some other program length works there are multiple roles for principal and soloist level artists. Like I said in the Seattle Weekly, I doubt that Peter Boal was thinking that he would need performance slots for multiple artists leaving the company at the end of this season, but serendipity is a powerful force.

Titania is one of those roles that women seem to grow in, when they get the chance to come back to it. I think this is Imler’s third time around with it, if I’m counting correctly. She’s danced both this and Hippolyta previously, and her innate stability really underlines the autonomy of both roles. Titania is Queen of the Fairies and Hippolyta is Queen of the Amazons – both of them have power on their own, both of them have very formal relationships with their spouses – without beating the idea over the head with a stick, both roles benefit from the comparison that this casting creates. Beyond the metaphorical similarities, there are some choreographic echoes in the side by side processional moments that make it very easy to see the relationship.

All three Titanias that I saw had some great wild moments with the role, especially in the big stag jumps that so often show up in poster images. The deep twisting action in the solos, with the arms sweeping across the center line of the torso reminded me of the descriptions of Suzanne Farrell after her return to NYCB.

Though none of the women dancing Titania are scheduled to leave this year, we are losing two of the production’s Hippolytas. Ariana Lallone has been getting quite a lot of press about her career and we’ve all speculated about the awkward nature of the announcement, but I wanted to say something about Stacey Lowenberg, who has been at PNB for almost all of her professional life. When I think of dancers who can jump in and out of the corps, she’s one that always comes to mind. It’s a trickier kind of transition than most people might think -- the mindset for a good corps performance requires a commitment to the group that doesn’t always match the soloist’s need to stand out from the ensemble. I’ve said before it’s the difference between “look at us” and “look at me” -- Lowenberg manages both quite deftly. But while I’m always glad to see her clean lines and musicality in the big ensemble corps things, one of my favorite memories of her is from Tharp’s Waterbaby Bagatelles, as one of the bathing beauties. There’s a moment where she’s upstage left (from the audience perspective) in a group of boy watchers, where she does this little flutter kick -- it’s like a pouf of whipped cream on top of the best dish of pudding, and I am always grateful to her for that. She’s been working hard on choreography the last couple of years, teaching herself the lessons she needs to learn like all new choreographers do, and though the work is still awkward in places, she’s making real progress. I hope that she continues that endeavor.

I was so sad to miss Barry Kerollis’s debut as Puck, in part because he’s going elsewhere and it’s likely I won’t see the next part of his career unfold, but also because it’s a role that he should do well in. I like seeing him in the dancey, abstract stuff, but he’s a real treat in anything to do with a character. Even as ‘Prince’s third friend from the left’ in something like Swan Lake or Cinderella, he dances a specific person -- it’s always fun to look for the acting parts of his work. In a Q/A during the first weekend of the run, he said that he was especially pleased to have danced in some of PNBs contemporary rep (especially Dove’s Serious Pleasures), and while I have to believe him if he says so, I agree with Helene’s observation that he seems at home in a jabot and a peruke.

Josh Spell is another dancer that I will miss as much for the possibilities in his future as well as the work I’ve had the chance to see him do. Like Kerollis, he’s got a way with a personality, making small moments read clearly. I particularly remember his bartender in Slaughter, working with Kiyon Gaines to tidy away the results of the big fight, and then congratulating each other when they’re finished. His Lysander in this production, like Wevers’, has a great doofy feeling -- he’s a walking around example of the term “love-struck.”

While I regret missing the next stage in some dancer’s careers, with Chalnessa Eames I will miss seeing the performances here that she might have been in. She’s woven into many of the works in the PNB repertory that I trust are coming back in the near future, not to mention the parts that I was hoping she would be cast in next time around. When I realized that I wouldn’t be seeing her again as the Nurse in the Maillot Romeo, I was really sad. I’m not sure if it’s her timing in general that lends itself to comedy, or if her comic skills affect her overall musicality, but she seems to find the heart of a rhythmic or musical phrase and then show it to us. Her Butterfly and her Hermia were both excellent, but I had almost as much fun following her around in the second act corps, where she was so very clear about all the where and when.

Stanko Milov has been away from the stage for quite some time, with surgery and rehab, but I had been hoping he would be back to performing for Midsummer -- it was a big disappointment to hear that he was retiring altogether. I wish he could have made one last appearance as Theseus. The role is the dance equivalent of ‘underwritten’ -- there’s not much choreographic meat in it, but the moments it does have can really use someone who understands how to command attention and use timing to their benefit. Because the character doesn’t have a big variation, it’s often cast with non-dancing characteristics in mind -- who fits the costume, who’s taller than the woman dancing Hippolyta -- but when it gets the right person, it can be very commanding. You need someone that we believe is a match for Hippolyta -- I have very happy memories of Milov standing next to Lallone, looking like he was a good fit with the Amazon queen. Milov has been game for almost anything during his time at PNB -- I’ll miss his presence.

Of all the dancers leaving at the end of the season, Lallone, Stanton and Wevers are the ones getting the most attention, which is as it should be -- their contributions to the development of the company have been almost too substantial to recognize distinctly. Early on, many of the female principals had a kind of light and sunny quality to them -- dancers like Deborah Hadley and Patricia Barker were very skilled and very beautiful, but had to work at the mysterious part of the ballerina persona. Ariana Lallone seemed to come out of a different environment, bringing a darker quality to her performing. She’s been great to watch everywhere, willing to take risks and do whatever a new choreographer might ask of her (she was the best part of Mark Dendy’s Les Biches and Donald Byrd’s Subtext Rage) but she was particularly fine in the Balanchine repertory, ballets that are about the adult world and benefit from having adults perform them. She’s identified with the ‘tall girl’ in Rubies, and Choleric in The Four Temperaments, and she’s danced those parts splendidly, but I was particularly taken with her work in the recent production of Serenade. In an anonymous group dressed in cool blues, she brought our eyes to her as she stepped forward -- the drama of the work coalesced around her. I’m very glad that she’ll be continuing to perform, and I’m looking forward to seeing her at Teatro ZinZanni (as I understand it, Tommy Tune is choreographing the show she’ll be opening in next autumn), but I can hope that she’ll be available to advise and possibly coach at PNB -- it would be tragic to lose her institutional memory.

Jeff Stanton has been another stalwart member of PNB for ages -- he’s been such a reliable presence that I’ve sometimes assumed he’d always be there. He reminds me just a bit of Clark Kent: serious, responsible, loyal, and underneath it all, capable of some astonishing things. I don’t really think he has a big, red “S” printed on his leotard, but he has indeed been a super man through his career here. His performances this spring, and especially since he announced his upcoming retirement, have been a bit fraught, which is absolutely understandable, but they’ve also been some of the free-est dancing I’ve seen from him in years. His Demetrius in Midsummer was positively bouncy, and his prince in Cinderella swept across the stage. But one of my favorite moments was in the Encore show, in his performance of the Hoofer in Slaughter on 10th Avenue -- holding Lesley Rausch in an impossibly deep backbend, he winked at the audience, letting us share in the joke. It was a generous moment in a career that was full of kindness and grace.

Olivier Wevers is getting all kinds of attention right now for his choreography, and deserves the consideration -- he’s made some excellent work thus far, and looks to be on a good path. But I first knew him as a dancer, and I will miss that part of his career. He’s a great expressive performer, and has done a wonderful job with dramatic parts, but he also has highly refined classical skills and has used them in very evocative ways, as he did in the Divertisment pas de deux in Midsummer. It’s one thing to take on an existing character -- it’s another to find the characteristics of otherwise abstract material and show them to your audience. I’ve really appreciated Wevers fidelity to the work he’s performed, and his ability to show me the heart of the choreographer’s intentions. I look forward to seeing that reflected in his own dancemaking.

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I saw the Mariinsky Ballet perform Alexei Ratmansky's "The Little Humpbacked Horse" and was in dance heaven for two days. My brain went into inevitable "casting PNB" mode, and then I realized that with a handful of exceptions, I had mentally cast all of the departing dancers and Jordan Pacitti, who retired two seasons ago...

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