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Director's Choice: March 14-15, March 20-23 2014

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The Director's Choice program for March 14-15 and March 20-23 is:

  • Susan Marshall's aerial dance, "Kiss" to Arvo Part's music
  • Susan Stroman's "TAKE FIVE...More or Less" to music by Dave Brubeck
  • Molissa Fenley's solo, "State of Darkness" to Igor Stravinsky's "Rite of Spring"
  • Hubbard Street Dance AD Alejandro Cerrudo's new work, thanks to the Joyce Theater Foundation's Rudolf Nureyev Prize for New Dance.

Here is the promo preview video:

Mara Vinson and James Moore perform in "Kiss."
Jonathan Porretta dances in "State of Darkness.

I'm not sure of all of the dancers, and apologize for mid-identifying anyone, but I think the men are, in the first group clip, Jordan Pacitti in back of Kiyon Gaines, Jeffrey Stanton, Jerome Tisserand, and Jonathan Porretta. I definitely recognize Kaori Nakamura in Yellow -- according to her retirement press release, she'll be dancing this -- and Lesley Rausch in Purple. I think it's Miranda Weese in Blue, Sarah Ricard Orza in Pink, maybe Stacey Lowenberg in Orange and Kari Brunson in Red?

Corrections appreciated!

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Chalnessa Eames definitely danced Pink in the rep: with a such a short clip I was going by the hair blushing.gif . Thank you both for the ID!

I was thinking the same thing about Porretta: it's a huge endurance test. We can only hope he's skipping the Bluebirds to be able to do "State of Darkness."

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Here's most of the press release



Featuring works by


March 14-23, 2014

Marion Oliver McCaw Hall

321 Mercer Street, Seattle Center

Seattle, WA 98109

7:30 pm on March 14, 15, 20, 21 & 22

Matinees on March 15 at 2:00 pm & March 23 at 1:00 pm

SEATTLE, WA — For DIRECTOR’S CHOICE, the fourth program of Pacific Northwest Ballet’s 2013-2014 season, Artistic Director Peter Boal selects from his roster of acquisitions and increases them by one: The captivating mixed-bill program will feature a much-anticipated world premiere by Alejandro Cerrudo, resident choreographer of Hubbard Street Dance Chicago. The program also reprises audience favorites TAKE FIVE…More or Less, Broadway-darling Susan Stroman’s sunny slice of jazz-infused Dave Brubeck fun; and Susan Marshall’s distinctive aerial duet, Kiss. Rounding out the lineup is Molissa Fenley’s State of Darkness, a tour-de-force solo performance set to Stravinsky’s riot-inducing The Rite of Spring. DIRECTOR’S CHOICE runs for seven performances only, March 14 through 23 at Seattle Center’s Marion Oliver McCaw Hall. Tickets start at just $28 and may be purchased by calling the PNB Box Office at 206.441.2424, online at PNB.org, or in person at the PNB Box Office, 301 Mercer Street.

“DIRECTOR’S CHOICE offers four examples of sublime expression and emotion through movement and music. These four works have no real connection, but each exemplifies the varied and rewarding effects of great choreography,” says Mr. Boal. “I’ve been looking forward with great excitement to the upcoming world premiere by Alejandro Cerrudo since he first stepped into the studio with our dancers last summer. His work is filled with fresh perspective, crisp musicality, and a hint of mischievous humor. What a treat it will be to hum along with Susan Stroman’s TAKE FIVE…More or Less and to revisit the tranquility of Susan Marshall’s Kiss. The real tour de force of this program promises to be Molissa Fenley’s State of Darkness to Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring. One of the greatest challenges for any performer results in one of the most exhilarating experiences for an audience.”

The line-up for DIRECTOR’S CHOICE will include:

TAKE FIVE…More or Less

Music: Dave Brubeck (Blue Rondo a la Turk and Strange Meadow Lark, 1959), and Paul Desmond (Take Five, 1959), orchestrated by Doug Besterman
Choreography: Susan Stroman
Costume Design: William Ivey Long

Lighting Design: Randall G. Chiarelli

Running Time: 14 minutes

Premiere: April 17, 2008; Pacific Northwest Ballet (Laugh Out Loud! Festival)

Peter Boal invited Tony Award-winning Broadway choreographer Susan Stroman to create a new work for the Company’s Laugh Out Loud! Festival in April 2008. She accepted and the result was TAKE FIVE…More or Less, an ensemble piece for eleven dancers set to the famous jazz scores of Dave Brubeck and Paul Desmond. Stroman’s starting point was the idea that artists never really “take five.” Their art is always with them, even when they are asleep ― witness the “nighttime” section of the ballet, featuring a ballerina dancing over the heads of the “sleeping” dancers.


Music: Arvo Pärt (Cantus in Memory of Benjamin Britten, 1977)

Choreography: Susan Marshall
Staging: Kristen Hollinsworth and Luke Miller

Original Lighting Design: Mitchell Bogard
Lighting Design: Peter Bracilano

Original Harness and Rigging Design: John Redman
Running Time: 7 minutes

Premiere: December 3, 1987; Dance Theater Workshop (New York)
PNB Premiere: February 2, 2006

Set to the profound, minimal music of Estonian composer Arvo Pärt, Kiss is a brief yet mesmerizing aerial pas de deux that explores the balance of human love and emotion. Susan Marshall’s choreography sets two dancers suspended in harnesses above the stage floor. Dressed casually in street clothes, they move together, separate and return to one another in a series of gentle, sweeping movements that embody both the pleasure and torment of being in love.

Kiss was choreographed in 1987 during a residency at Jacob’s Pillow, Massachusetts, and was premiered that year in New York by Dance Theater Workshop. The Boston Herald referred to Kiss as “a case study for making the perfect aerial dance,” and the Oakland Tribune observed, “The miracle of the piece is that it captures in concrete dance terms the almost palpable feeling of swimming in love, of being suspended in eternity.”

State of Darkness

Music: Igor Stravinsky (Le Sacre du Printemps [The Rite of Spring], 1911-1913)
Choreography: Molissa Fenley
Lighting Design: David Moodey
Running Time: 39 minutes

Premiere: June 23, 1988; American Dance Festival (Durham, North Carolina)

PNB Premiere: May 31, 2007

Choreographer and performer Molissa Fenley grew up in Nigeria, lived in Spain, and returned to the U.S. where she received a degree in dance from Mills College in 1975. She moved to New York City that year and formed Molissa Fenley and Dancers in 1977. Her 37-year career of choreographing and presenting her work has developed in cycles. During her first ten years (1977-1987) she focused on presenting group works, performed by her and an ensemble of dancers. In the second ten years (1987-1997) her work shifted to solo performances created in collaboration with contemporary visual artists and composers. Now, in a third cycle, she is once again exploring the dynamics of ensemble work.

Her intensely dynamic solo, State of Darkness, is set to Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring. Commissioned by the American Dance Festival, State of Darkness was first performed by Fenley herself, who received a Bessie Choreography award for her work. Peter Boal received a Bessie Performance award for his revival performance of State of Darkness in 2000.

World Premiere

Music: TBA

Choreography: Alejandro Cerrudo
Costume Design: Mark Zappone
Lighting Design: Randall G. Chiarelli
Premiere: March 14, 2014; Pacific Northwest Ballet

“Alejandro Cerrudo is not only an eye-catching dancer with Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, he’s also their resident choreographer,” says Mr. Boal. “Having created twelve works for the company and two for Ballet Arizona, with works in a half dozen companies around the world, you’d think he was kind of old. Wrong: young, charming, and talented too. He’s been a wonder to watch in the studio as he moves with quixotic ease around the room like a breeze. His work is fresh and clever, with a hint of humor. We are honored to have him create for PNB.”


SPECIAL SEMINAR: All About Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring”
Saturday, March 1, 2014, 3:00 pm

The Phelps Center, 301 Mercer Street, Seattle
Fresh off its hundredth birthday, Stravinsky’s notorious Rite of Spring continues to fascinate audiences around the world. Learn about the riotous Paris premiere of this great work and how it has inspired dozens of subsequent productions, watch excerpts from the 1988 reconstruction of the original for the Joffrey Ballet, and chat with PNB dancers who will perform Molissa Fenley’s solo interpretation, State of Darkness, on PNB’s DIRECTOR’S CHOICE program. Tickets, $25 each, may be purchased through the PNB Box Office.

Friday, March 7, 2014, 6:00 pm

The Phelps Center, 301 Mercer Street, Seattle

PNB’s popular Friday Previews are hour-long studio rehearsals hosted by Artistic Director Peter Boal and featuring dancers rehearsing excerpts from DIRECTOR’S CHOICE. Friday Previews offer an upbeat and up-close view of the Company preparing to put dance on stage. Tickets, $12 each, may be purchased through the PNB Box Office. (This event will sell out in advance.) Friday Previews are sponsored by U.S. Bank.


Tuesday, March 11, 2014, 12:00 pm

Central Seattle Public Library, 1000 Fourth Avenue, Seattle

Join PNB for a free lunch-hour preview lecture at the Central Seattle Public Library. Education Programs Manager Doug Fullington will offer insights about DIRECTOR’S CHOICE, complete with video excerpts.


Thursday, March 13, 2014

Lecture 6:00 pm, Nesholm Family Lecture Hall at McCaw Hall

Dress Rehearsal 7:00 pm, McCaw Hall

Join PNB Artistic Director Peter Boal and choreographer Alejandro Cerrudo in conversation during the hour preceding the dress rehearsal for DIRECTOR’S CHOICE. Attend the discussion only or stay for the dress rehearsal. Tickets, $12 for the lecture or $30 for the lecture and dress rehearsal, may be purchased through the PNB Box Office.


Nesholm Family Lecture Hall at McCaw Hall

Join Education Programs Manager Doug Fullington for a 30-minute introduction to each performance, including discussions of choreography, music, history, design, and the process of bringing ballet to the stage. One hour before all performances. FREE for ticketholders.

Nesholm Family Lecture Hall at McCaw Hall

Ship the post-show traffic and join Artistic Director Peter Boal and PNB Company dancers for a lively question-and-answer session following each performance. FREE for ticketholders.


Tickets to DIRECTOR’S CHOICE ($28-$179) and special events are available through the PNB Box Office:

  • Phone: 206.441.2424 (Mon.-Fri. 9am–6pm; Sat. 10am–5pm)
  • In Person: 301 Mercer Street at Seattle Center (Mon.-Fri. 10am–6pm; Sat. 10am–5pm)
  • Online: PNB.org (24 hours a day, seven days a week)

Tickets are also available, subject to availability, 90 minutes prior to each performance at McCaw Hall, located at 321 Mercer Street. Discounted rush tickets for students and senior citizens (with ID) may be purchased day-of-show, subject to availability.


Discounts are available for groups of 10 or more. For group tickets, please call Julie Jamieson at 206.441.2416, email juliej@pnb.org or visit PNB.org/Season/GroupTix.


All Thursday and Friday performances: March 14, 20, and 21 at 7:30 pm
One ticket for $15 and two for $25 for patrons 25 years and younger! To purchase tickets, contact the PNB Box Office at 206.441.2424 or visit 301 Mercer Street. (25-and-Under tickets are not available online.) This offer is good for March 14, 20, and 21 performances only. Offer is subject to availability and not valid on previously purchased tickets. Each attendee must present valid I.D. upon ticket retrieval.


PNB is a proud participant of Teen Tix, whose members (13 to 19 years old) can purchase tickets to PNB performances and other music, dance, theater and arts events for only $5. To join Teen Tix or view a list of participating organizations, visit teentix.org.


A five-time Tony Award-winning Broadway director and choreographer, Susan Stroman has been honored with the Olivier, Drama Desk, Outer Critics, Astaire, and Lucille Lortel Awards. She is a recipient of the George Abbott Award for Lifetime Achievement in the American Theater. For New York City Ballet she created Double Feature, a full-length ballet featuring the music of Irving Berlin and Walter Donaldson, and For the Love of Duke, featuring the music of Duke Ellington. For the Martha Graham Company she created the ballet But Not For Me. She directed and choreographed The Producers, winner of a record-making 12 Tony Awards, including Best Direction and Best Choreography. She co-created, directed and choreographed the groundbreaking musical Contact for Lincoln Center Theater. Other Broadway credits include The Scottsboro Boys, Big Fish, Oklahoma!, Young Frankenstein, Thou Shalt Not, The Music Man, The Frogs, Steel Pier, Big, Show Boat, and Crazy for You. Off-Broadway credits include Happiness, And the World Goes ’Round, and Flora the Red Menace. For ten years she choreographed Madison Square Garden’s annual spectacular, A Christmas Carol. Her choreography received an Emmy nomination for the HBO presentation of Liza Minnelli Live From Radio City Music Hall. She received the American Choreography Award for her work in the Columbia Pictures feature film Center Stage. She directed and choreographed The Producers: The Movie Musical, nominated for 4 Golden Globes. Her latest production, the stage version of Woody Allen’s Bullets Over Broadway, begins previews on March 11. TAKE FIVE…More or Less is Ms. Stroman’s first work for Pacific Northwest Ballet.

As artistic director of Susan Marshall & Company, Marshall has, since 1985, created over 40 dances on her company, and has also created works for the Lyon Opera Ballet, Frankfurt Ballet, and Mikhail Baryshnikov. Marshall's work with Philip Glass includes the stage direction of “Book of Longing,” a song cycle based on the poetry of Leonard Cohen; and the choreography, direction and co-adaptation of “Les Enfants Terribles,” a dance opera based on the work of Jean Cocteau. Marshall has also choreographed/directed the music ensembles Eighth Blackbird and Bang on a Can's Asphalt Orchestra. A 2000 recipient of a MacArthur fellowship, Marshall has received numerous other awards, including three New York Dance and Performance Awards (Bessies) for Outstanding Choreographic Achievement, a Dance Magazine Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and was one of the first artists to receive an American Choreographer Award. In addition to her own company’s work, Marshall serves as Director of Dance at Princeton University’s Lewis Center for the Arts, having assumed that post in September 2009.

Choreographer Molissa Fenley was born in Las Vegas, Nevada and lived in Nigeria and Spain during her youth. She returned to the U.S. in 1971, earning a Bachelor of Arts from Mills College in Oakland, California in 1975. That same year she moved to New York City, and founded Molissa Fenley and Company in 1977. Her body of work, over 75 dances in total, has been presented throughout the U.S., South America, Europe, Australia, and Asia. She has received commissions from American Dance Festival, Brooklyn Academy of Music, Joyce Theater, Jacob’s Pillow, and Lincoln Center among many others. Recent works include Found Object with text by John Guare, Joy Harjo, and Rudy Wurlitzer; The Vessel Stories, with music by Philip Glass; Credo in Us, with music by John Cage; Cross Bridge: a collaboration with Holley Farmer, John Jesurun, David Moodey, and Rosemary Quinn; and Dance an Impossible Space. She has created numerous works for ballet and contemporary dance companies, including Robert Moses’ Kin, Repertory Dance Theater, Peter Boal and Company, Australian Dance Theatre, Deutsche Oper Ballet, and Seattle Dance Project; her dances have been performed by Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company, Elisa Monte and David Brown, and Peggy Baker Dance Projects among others. Fenley received a New York Dance and Performance Bessie Award for Choreography for Cenotaph (1985) and State of Darkness (1988). Recent awards include the NEA American Masterpieces Initiative for the reconstruction of egions (1995). She is a Guggenheim Fellow, a Fellow of the American Academy in Rome, a Fellow of the Bogliasco Foundation, a Master Artist of the Atlantic Center of the Arts, and a Professor of Dance at her alma mater, Mills College.

Born in Madrid, Spain, choreographer Alejandro Cerrudo received his training at the Real Conservatorio Professional de Danza de Madrid. After becoming a professional dancer in 1998 Cerrudo’s dance career has been shaped and enriched by various companies including Victor Ullate Ballet, Stuttgart Ballet, Netherlands Dance Theater 2 and, since 2005, by Hubbard Street Dance Chicago. In 2008, Mr. Cerrudo was named Hubbard Street Choreographic Fellow and became the company’s first Resident Choreographer in 2009. He has created several works for Hubbard Street and for the company’s unique collaborations with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Netherlands Dance Theater. Mr. Cerrudo’s works are performed by dance companies around the U.S. and the world, including Germany, Denmark, The Netherlands, and Australia. Always dancing and constantly creating, Mr. Cerrudo was honored with an award from The Boomerang Fund for Artists in 2011. This is Alejandro Cerrudo’s first work for Pacific Northwest Ballet.

Ian Eisendrath (guest conductor, TAKE FIVE…More or Less) is resident music supervisor at Seattle’s 5th Avenue Theatre. He has guest-conducted for three seasons of PNB’s Nutcracker and has been the music director for Cabaret at American Theatre of San Jose, Ordway Center in St. Paul, and Theatre Under the Stars in Houston. A graduate of the University of Michigan with a degree in conducting musical theater and choral repertoire, Mr. Eisendrath has served as music director for projects at the Ann Arbor Festival of New Works, and music director and dramaturge on many new musicals at the Banff Centre for the Arts in Canada.

# # #

DIRECTOR’S CHOICE is made possible by Presenting Sponsor The Boeing Company and Major Sponsors the National Endowment for the Arts and U.S. Bank. Alejandro Cerrudo’s World Premiere commission for PNB was created with the support of a Rudolf Nureyev Prize for New Dance awarded by The Joyce Theater with major funding from the Rudolf Nureyev Dance Foundation. Principal support is generously provided by Jolene McCaw and Family. Additional support provided by H. David Kaplan and Acción Cultural Española. The 2008 world premiere of TAKE FIVE…More or Less was generously underwritten by Bruce & Jolene McCaw. The 2007 Pacific Northwest Ballet premiere of Molissa Fenley’s State of Darkness was generously underwritten by Lyndall Boal. Pacific Northwest Ballet’s 2013-2014 Season is proudly sponsored by ArtsFund and Microsoft Corporation. The season is also sponsored in part by 4Culture, and Seattle’s Office of Arts & Culture.



March 16 – 22


April 11 - 14

Pacific Northwest Ballet

301 Mercer Street

Seattle, WA 98109



Schedule and programming subject to change. For further information, please visit www.PNB.org.

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There is a new video showing some rehearsal footage for State of Darkness (I can't wait!!).

Most of the 2+ minute video is Jonathan Poretta rehearsing I'm guessing from a few years ago -- the last time they did it, but the video opens with Peter Boal teaching this incredible dance to 4 PNB dancers. I recognize 3 of the dancers, but am unsure of the 4th. Two are Rachel Foster and James Moore as to be expected since with Jonathan they were the 3 to do it last time. But there is an additional man and woman. The woman is surely Angelica Generosa; the new man is, I think, Benjamin Griffiths, but I can't be sure.

In any case, it looks like we may get to see at least 2 more dancers to do this amazing work.

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The rehearsal footage of Jonathan Porretta is likely from this year -- his hair is on the long side right now.

I went to the seminar last Saturday (I'll post a little something later this evening) but just wanted to clear it up -- the "new" man is Matthew Renko. He and Angelica Generosa are learning this, and may get to perform, but it wasn't a done deal as of Saturday. I have a feeling that on opening weekend we'll get Porretta, Moore and Foster -- the other two would appear in the second weekend, barring disasters...

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Casting is up for first weekend of Director's Choice:


Here's the Excel workbook for those who'd like to download it:

Removed, because week one has been changed (see below).

Originally, Director's Choice was planned to feature four female choreographers, but due to schedule conflicts, Crystal Pite and Alejandro Cerrudo switched places in the schedule. It made logical sense to have two very small cast works and one medium-sized short work on the same program as a work that used every dancer who could stand ("Emergence," a known quantity). It got trickier for Cerrudo, for whom this was the first time he's worked with the company and he's creating a new work, not re-staging and/or adapting an older one. (Cerrudo spent time with the company work-shopping; from what I saw of a piece of rehearsal earlier this week, the company's experience with "Petite Mort" is helpful.)

Given his movement style, it's not surprising that his casting overlaps with the Fenley -- three of the five dancers who've dancer or are learning "State of Darkness" are cast among the three women and seven men in the Cerrudo -- and there's a second cast learning the piece. James Moore, the only returnee from the original "Kiss" will perform with Carla Korbes, marking her return to the stage. Leah Merchant, one of the three women in the Cerrudo, will dance "Kiss" with Seth Orza [edited to add: debut changed to second weekend).

This rep is thin for a lot of the company; I suspect they've got their hands full for rehearsals of "A Midsummer Night's Dream" for April, and then there's the season-ending "Giselle," with new costumes and sets by Jerome Kaplan that should be gorgeous. Like the Kylian/Pite rep, there are only pointe shoes in one work, the Stroman.

Directors Choice 2014.xls

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Change from the original casting from last week: Leah Merchant and Seth Orza will make their debut in "Kiss" second weekend (Thursday, 20 March).

For second weekend, Angelica Generosa makes her debut in "State of Darkess" on Friday, 21 March. I think she will rock it.

If I'm reading the cast lists properly, for two performances second weekend (Thursday, 20 March and Saturday 22 March), Jahna Frantziskonis and Elizabeth Murphy share the part Murphy will do in all other performances, and for the other two performances second weekend (Friday, 21 March and Sunday 23 March) Kaori Nakamura/Jonathan Porretta replace Rachel Foster/James Moore, and Carrie Imler/Charles McCall replace Leah Merchant/Andrew Bartee in the third couple's roles, with Bartee and McCall somehow splitting up the corps role. Or something like that.


Updated spreadsheet:

See below.

Directors Choice 2014.xls

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From this evening's post-show Q/A:

There were several questions about programming -- why have things moved around, what can we expect in the next couple seasons -- and Peter Boal was quite forthcoming. In no particular order:

The company is going to the Joyce in October 2014 with Memory Glow (the new Cerrudo), Wheeldon's Tide Harmonic, and the new work by Justin Peck (it will premier there in NYC and then come to Seattle afterwards)

Tide Harmonic will be back in Seattle in September 2015

Romeo et Juliette will be back in February 2016

Twyla Tharp's Waiting at the Station will be back in May 2016

And yes, all of this is subject to change.

Someone asked about how ticket sales were doing -- apparently every program this year has performed better than they had budgeted for, except Sleeping Beauty. Boal said that their expectations for that were "exceptionally high," so it didn't seem to be a major problem that it didn't perform quite as well as hoped. (someone in the audience mentioned the competition from the Superbowl)

Someone asked how Carla Korbes was doing, in terms of rehab. One of the reasons she learned Kiss was that it was slightly easier on her knee that some other part of this rep would have been. She is hoping to be dancing in Midsummer.

Tonight's dancer guest was Rachel Foster, who was in the new Cerrudo. When someone asked about the casting for State of Darkness, she revealed that she wasn't dancing in it this time around because she's pregnant (due next September). This rep will apparently be her last until she comes back from maternity leave.

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Someone in the Q&A audience made the statement that Angelica Generosa's performance in "State of Darkness" was the most powerful theatrical performance he had ever seen.

I completely concur. I have seen this piece 6 or 7 times, danced by nearly all the PNB dancers who have done it in recent years; and as good as they all were, Angelica's performance was beyond the beyond. She was the music; she was completely in "the zone"; she would have stunned Mr Stravinsky himself, IMO. I can only hope that Melissa Fenley will get the chance to see Angelica's performance on video. What Melissa created to this extraordinary piece of music was magically realized by this young dancer. I can't help but wonder if Angelica herself truly knows what she accomplished that night. BTW, the standing ovation was immediate, loud, and enduring. Helene, you and I must not have been the only ones!

BTW, Angelica herself may have given the answer to this remarkable performance at the Q&A. She was asked how she prepared and remembered this incredible 34 minute solo feat. She said that for weeks she played the music over and over again until every bit of it registered naturally in her being. For my money, that was her secret (any dancer's secret really): to be at one with the music. To have achieved this unity with Stravinsky's Rite of Spring is mind boggling.

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