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2011-2012 Season

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Early subscriber renewal packets for PNB's 2011-12 season have been arriving this week. Since the budget is never finalized this early, none of this is set in stone -- that is always disclosed -- but per Peter Boal's letter,

I’m not quite ready to release the full season, but I can tell you to look forward to:

  • The PNB premiere of Alexei Ratmansky’s much lauded Don Quixote.
  • An all Balanchine and Stravinsky program featuring the PNB premiere of Divertimento from "Le Baiser de la Fée"
  • All Jerome Robbins and all Christopher Wheeldon programs with audience favorites and new-to-PNB acquisitions.
  • The seventh annual Director’s Choice program, a mixed bill of hand-selected contemporary works.
  • The return of George Balanchine’s Coppélia.

New this year is an automatic 15% discount on Nutcracker performances purchased before 18 July.

It looks like a great planned season. Hopefully some people will suddenly come into a trust fund, large inheritance, winning Lotto jackpot ticket, or other windfall and earmark it for the ballet.

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Seattle Times has published the season's announcement:

All Wheeldon: "Carousel (A Dance)," "After the Rain," "Polyphonia", "Variations Sérieuses."

Love Stories: "Divertimento from 'Le Baiser de la Fée'" (Balanchine) "Afternoon of a Faun," (Robbins), pas de deux excerpts from "Romeo et Juliette," (Maillot), "Swan Lake" (K. Stowell), and "Sleeping Beauty" (Hynd). Not a lot for corps in this one. Maybe they'll all be rehearsing for "Nutcracker".

"Don Quixote" (Ratmansky, after Petipa and Gorsky)

"Cylindrical Shadows" (Lopez Ochoa), new work (Quijada), "A Million Kisses to My Skin" (Dawkins)

"Carmina Burana" (K. Stowell) and "Apollo" (Balanchine)

"Coppelia" (Balanchine/Danilova)

plus "Nutcracker", "Encore Performance", "Next Step" (formerly known as "Choreographers' Showcase")

"Cylindrical Shadows" is a beautiful work that was premiered by Oliver Wevers' company, Whim W'him, and hopefully Chalnessa Eames will reprise her part in the ballet: she was a knockout in it in January.

Another hope of mine is that "Jewels" will be back in the rep the season after next.

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Finally, I get to see Apollo not on DVD!! (Yes, I've seen it before but a long time ago before I was capable of truly appreciating it.)

I'm wondering who we'll see as Apollo. The last time out I saw Milov and Stanton, each different from the other and both very interesting interpretations. My only real disappointment was that Olivier Wevers was on the poster, and in the end wasn't cast in the role.

So who's up this time?

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I always imagine Apollo as a tall striking figure. That would argue for Kruz (too tall?) or Orza. I personally think Orza has been extraordinary in the last couple of years in learning how to create character. Apollo would certainly be a test of his growing capabilities in that area. Wevers is such a pro, and such an artist, with such depth of understanding that I've got to believe he will be cast. But the one I'd most like to see is Postlewaite. For my money he is the most talented, in the sense of pure artist, male dancer in the company. Prodigal Son and Apollo would make terrific bookends for him.

Just for the hell of it, I'll list my picks from the corp men just in case any of them get a chance: Thompson, Kerollis, and it would be fun to see Tisserand since he is so lyrical (but I'm not sure he has the "right" look).

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PNB has published it's season trailer video:

It goes by so fast, and I couldn't made all of the identifications, but the clips from "Don Quixote" are from the Dutch National Ballet, and I recognized

Carrie Imler as Polyhymnia in "Apollo"

Seth Orza, solo, and with Carla Korbes in "Carousel"

Karel Cruz and Carla Korbes in "Sleeping Beauty" and Black Swan Pas de Deux

Stanko Milov as Apollo

Mara Vinson and James Moore in "Coppelia"

Lucien Postlewaite, solo and with Carla Korbes in "Romeo et Juliette"

James Moore and Rachel Foster in "In the Rain" Pas de Deux

Jonathan Porretta as Bluebird in"Sleeping Beauty"

Kaori Nakamura in a peach-colored dress that I don't remember from "Coppelia"; not sure what ballet this is

Chalnessa Eames as Spinner from "Coppelia"

There are a few clips I think are from Wheeldon's "Variations Sérieuses", which I missed when it was first danced, some from "Carmina Burana", and two from Annabelle Lopez Ochoa's "Cylindrical Shadows" originally performed in January by Olivier Wevers' company, Whim W'him, part of the New Works program in March 2012.

The company performs excerpts from "Sleeping Beauty" ("Aurora's Wedding"), "Swan Lake" (Black Swan Pas de Deux), and "Romeo et Juliette" (Balcony Pas de Deux) as part of the "Love Stories" program in November, which also features company premiers of Jerome Robbins' "Afternoon of a Faun" and George Balanchine's "Baiser de la fee". I usually don't like gala excerpts, but I think this is very clever programming on PNB's part, and "Aurora's Wedding" is a treat.

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The Colorado Ballet is offering 40% off regular prices if you buy subscription tickets for all four of their programs in 2011-12. If you buy a subscription for three (all but the Nutcracker), the tickets are 30% off. I went to their offices to pick out our seats and told the staffer that I'd never seen a discount of that magnitude. He said they were making a big push this year to increase their subscriber base (by 800, I think?). They added a 10% "city seat tax" to each ticket, but no service charge (although that might have been because I bought them in person). They even let me mix different price categories and still get the discount. (We have favorite seats in the first tier at the Opera House, where they usually perform, but prefer a side box when they perform at the University of Denver concert hall once a year.)

They are also holding a big open house/demo on a Saturday in September at their studios for all subscribers and patrons, a nice event a few weeks before their Swan Lake in October. Patrons at different levels are getting invitations to luncheon/demos, etc., but they did those last year.

When I visited PNB last year, I was impressed at the array of "extras" they have -- pre- and post-performance discussions, downtown previews to draw people in, etc. Lots of places have pre-performance talks (OCPAC, NYCB), but I've never encountered one with a post-performance discussion with the artistic director and some of the dancers. These extras take a lot of work, I realize, but they would seem like great audience builders in a community, and I hope Colorado Ballet will be able to add things like this down the road.

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Then there's NYCB, which is not allowing new subscriptions in the Fourth Ring (top level center), and is trying to push everyone down into less appealing seats in lower rings and the Orchestra, much like PNB tried to do a few years ago with the Second Tier and has since reversed, has jacked the prices in the Fourth Tier for current subscribers (and single ticket holders when they need to open up the section), like Seattle Symphony did a few years ago, plus they are effectively killing the Fourth Tier Society, in which for a nominal fee, members could get one or two seats for $15 in the Fourth Tier, if there was availability.

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In it's "5 things you didn't know" series, the Bellevue Reporter takes on Pacific Northwest Ballet, and, having to decide, Peter Boal chooses Ratmansky's "Don Quixote" as a season highlight:

5 things you didn’t know:

- Internationally recognized as a top U.S. ballet company.

- Snow used in “Nutcracker” is 200 pounds of fireproof confetti paper.

- The “Nutcracker” Christmas tree, which grows from 14 to 28 feet, was constructed by Boeing engineers.

- Company dancers collectively wear out more than 2,000 pairs of pointe shoes annually.

- Reached 18,000 students and families last year through outreach programs such as DanceChace and field trips.

A must-see:

When people ask artistic director Peter Boal what the season highlight is, Boal responds: “What isn’t?” Still, if he had to choose, it’s the new “Don Quixote,” originally created for the Dutch National Ballet. PNB will be the second company and first American company to premiere the ballet Feb. 3-12. Be sure to watch for the lead ballerina’s feat of 32 foutte turns and hops on pointe.

The last word:

PNB’s top marks in the Teen Tix awards couldn’t be cooler, if you ask Boal. “The fact that teenagers think we’re the best in town speaks to our programming,” he says.

PNB's strong Teen Tix program bodes well for the next generation of ballet-goers.


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