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See the Music: Prodigal Son/Tide Harmonic/The Concert

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September 25 – October 4, 2015

Marion Oliver McCaw Hall

321 Mercer Street at Seattle Center

Seattle, WA 98109


  • September 25 at 6:30 pm

  • September 26 at 2:00 and 7:30pm

  • October 1 – 3 at 7:30 pm

  • October 4 at 1:00pm

“See the music, hear the dance.”

–George Balanchine

SEATTLE, WA – Pacific Northwest Ballet opens its 2015-2016 season with SEE THE MUSIC, a terrific triple-bill of repertory works. After an eight-year hiatus, PNB welcomes the return of George Balanchine’s Prodigal Son, choreographed by the ballet master at the age of 25 for Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes. Another relative youngster, Christopher Wheeldon (recent Tony Award-winner for An American in Paris), shares the bill with Mr. B., represented by his dramatic Tide Harmonic, created for PNB in 2013. The program comes to a comic close with Jerome Robbins’ hilarious The Concert (or, The Perils of Everybody). SEE THE MUSIC runs for seven performances only, September 25 through October 4 at Seattle Center’s Marion Oliver McCaw Hall. Tickets start at $30 and may be purchased by calling 206.441.2424, in person at the PNB Box Office at 301 Mercer Street, or online at PNB.org.


Tickets ($30-$187) may be purchased through the PNB Box Office:

  • Phone - 206.441.2424 (Mon.-Fri. 10am–6pm; Sat. 10am–5pm)

  • In Person - 301 Mercer Street, Seattle (Mon.-Fri. 10am–6pm; Sat. 10am–5pm)

  • Online - PNB.org (24/7)

Subject to availability, tickets are also available 90 minutes prior to showtime at McCaw Hall.


Discounts are available for groups of 10 or more. For group tickets, please call Group Sales Manager Julie Jamieson at 206.441.2416, email JulieJ@PNB.org or use PNB’s online contact form at PNB.org/Season/GroupTickets.


Friday, October 2 at 7:30 pm

Join members of PNB’s Young Patrons Circle (YPC) in an exclusive lounge for complimentary wine and coffee before the show and at intermission. YPC is PNB’s social and educational group for ballet patrons ages 21 through 39. YPC members save up to 40% off their tickets. For more information, visit PNB.org and search for “YPC.”


Ballet fans ages 20-40 are invited to get The Pointe – PNB’s exclusive email list offering insider access and ticket deals for young adults. Launching August 18. To receive more information, email KLiang@PNB.org.


PNB is a proud participant of Seattle Center’s TeenTix program. TeenTix 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 TeenTix or view a list of participating organizations, visit teentix.org.


Subject to availability, half-price rush tickets for students and senior citizens (65+) may be purchased in-person with ID, from 90 minutes prior to show time at the McCaw Hall box office.



Tuesday, September 8, 6:00 pm

The Phelps Center, 301 Mercer Street, Seattle

George Balanchine revived his 1929 Prodigal Son for Jerome Robbins in 1950, and Robbins went on to coach Peter Boal in the role in the 1980s. Join us as Boal passes his incredible legacy on to PNB’s dancers performing the iconic roles of the Prodigal and the Siren. Tickets ($25 each) are available through the PNB Box Office.


Tuesday, September 15, 12:00 noon

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 SEE THE MUSIC complete with video excerpts. FREE of charge.


Thursday, September 24, 2015

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

  • Dress Rehearsal 7:00 pm, McCaw Hall

PNB’s Lecture Series offers in-depth discussions with choreographers, stagers, designers, dancers and other artists that reveal much about the creative process involved in the development of a ballet. Attend the lecture only or stay for the rehearsal of SEE THE MUSIC. Tickets are $12 for the lecture, or $30 for the lecture and dress rehearsal. Tickets may be purchased through the PNB Box Office.


Friday, September 25

Join PNB for our annual opening night gala, as the curtain rises on our 43rd season. Following a cocktail reception, guests will enjoy the performance of SEE THE MUSIC, before sitting down to an elegant black-tie dinner and auction. Dinner will feature a costume parade of Ian Falconer’s designs for PNB’s new production of George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker. The party continues with dessert and dancing onstage. FIRST LOOK tickets start at $350 (performance tickets sold separately) and are available through PNB Special Events, 206.441.2429 or Events@PNB.org.


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 SEE THE MUSIC to the stage. One hour before performances. FREE for ticketholders.


Nesholm Family Lecture Hall at McCaw Hall

Skip the post-show traffic and enjoy a Q&A with Artistic Director Peter Boal and PNB dancers, immediately following each performance. FREE for ticketholders.

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Tide Harmonic

  • Music: Joby Talbot (2009; arr. 2013)

  • Choreography: Christopher Wheeldon

  • Costume Design: Holly Hynes

  • Lighting Design: Randall G. Chiarelli

  • Running Time: 18 minutes

  • Premiere: May 31, 2013

Christopher Wheeldon’s Tide Harmonic is the choreographer’s first creation for Pacific Northwest Ballet and the fifth Wheeldon ballet to enter the company’s repertory. (Following After the Rain pas de deux, Carousel (A Dance), Polyphonia, and Variations Sérieuses.) Choreographed for four couples, the work is set to Tide Harmonic, a score for chamber orchestra by British composer Joby Talbot. (Wheeldon and Talbot have also collaborated on Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Shakespeare’s A Winter’s Tale. Both ballets are co-productions between The Royal Ballet and National Ballet of Canada.) Conceived as a dance work, Tide Harmonic has been specially arranged for Wheeldon’s new ballet. Talbot describes the score as “…a kind of water symphony that, rather than constructing a poetic or narrative programme inspired by man’s relationship with water, instead focuses on the substance itself, the forces that act upon it, and the energy that flows through and from it.”

Premiering during PNB’s 40th Anniversary season, Wheeldon’s Tide Harmonic was the culmination of a long relationship between the choreographer and the artists of Pacific Northwest Ballet. “Having Chris Wheeldon create a ballet for PNB has been a dream of mine since arriving in Seattle eight years ago,” said Artistic Director Peter Boal in 2013. “He has known and admired many of our dancers since his early days choreographing for the students of the School of American Ballet. As a choreographer, his sense of musicality and invention coupled with his knowledge of tradition and design are unparalleled.” [The 2013 world premiere of Christopher Wheeldon’s Tide Harmonic was generously underwritten in part by Jeffrey & Susan Brotman. Notes by Doug Fullington.]

Prodigal Son

  • Music: Sergei Prokofiev (Op. 46, 1928-1929)

  • Libretto: Boris Kochno

  • Choreography: George Balanchine © The George Balanchine Trust

  • Staging: Peter Boal

  • Scenic and Costume Design: Georges Rouault

  • Lighting Design: Randall G. Chiarelli

  • Running Time: 41 minutes

  • Premiere: May 21, 1929; Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes (Paris)

  • PNB Premiere: April 19, 1984

Prodigal Son was the impresario Serge Diaghilev’s last production for the Ballets Russes just months before his death in 1929. With choreography by the 25-year-old George Balanchine, an original score by Sergei Prokofiev, and monumental expressionist sets by Georges Rouault, the ballet is the quintessence of an extraordinary epoch in 20th-century dance. Beginning with The Firebird in 1910, Diaghilev was a magnet for many of the most exciting avant-garde choreographers, composers and visual artists, who together made some of the landmarks of modern art. The aesthetic unity to which Diaghilev inspired in his productions is brilliantly realized in Prodigal Son, no part of which can satisfactorily be imagined separate from the other.

With a libretto by Boris Kochno derived for the Biblical parable and from a description of it in a story by Pushkin, the ballet is deeply religious and Russian in feeling. According to the great critic Edwin Denby, much of its power comes from “the leisure in the pacing of the scenes, which transports the action into a spacious patriarchal world, like a lifetime of faith.” But this tale of brash self-assertion, debauchery and repentance is also a devastating commentary on the dehumanizing nature of modern life. Just a year earlier, in Apollo, Balanchine had discovered the essence of his modern classicism in a contemporary rendering of idealized human forms. But in Prodigal Son, he boldly borrowed movement from the world of gymnasts and circus performers―not to shock gratuitously, but to create a symbolic poetry of the grotesque.

The heart of the matter is communicated through unforgettable visual contrasts: the upright stature and calm, unhurried gestures of the patriarch; the acrobatic bravado of the son, impelled towards freedom; the mechanized back-to-back scuttlings of the gargoyle-like revelers; the snakelike sensuality of the seductress; and finally, the sinew-wrenching journey of the Prodigal, on his knees, to the forgiving embrace of his father―that still point of the turning world.

Although Diaghilev worried that the young choreographer’s usually intellectual approach to his art might preclude his communicating the deep feeling so essential to Prodigal Son, Balanchine produced a work of awesome dramatic and emotional power that remains one of the masterpieces of 20th-century art. [Notes by Jeanie Thomas; edited by Doug Fullington.]

The Concert (or, The Perils of Everybody)

  • Music: Frederic Chopin

  • Choreography: Jerome Robbins

  • Staging: Judith Fugate

  • Scenic Design: Edward Gorey

  • Costume Design: Irene Sharaff

  • Lighting Design: Jennifer Tipton

  • Lighting Re-creation: Nicole Pearce

  • Running Time: 31 minutes

  • Premiere: March 6, 1956; New York City Ballet

  • PNB Premiere: September 15, 2007

Jerome Robbins wrote: “One of the pleasures of attending a concert is the freedom to lose oneself in listening to the music. Quite often, unconsciously, mental pictures and images form, and the patterns and paths of these reveries are influenced by the music itself, or its program notes, or by the personal dreams, problems and fantasies of the listener. Chopin’s music in particular has been subject to fanciful ‘program’ names such as the Butterfly Etude, the Minute Waltz, the Raindrop Prelude, etc.”

Choreographed in 1956, Robbins’ The Concert is a comic spoof of a classical music concert. The setting is an all-Chopin recital where the attendees allow their decidedly imaginative minds to wander. When the resulting images are danced, human foibles and recognizable insecurities are revealed as Robbins brings each fantasy comically and vividly to life. A genuine crowd-pleaser, The Concert illustrates Robbins’ remarkable insight into the delightful imperfections of human relationships and, in the midst of the laughter, enlightens us all. [The 2007 PNB premiere of The Concert was generously underwritten by Ernest & Diane Burgess and Glenn Kawasaki. Notes compiled by Doug Fullington.]

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If you missed the Prodigal Son coaching session on Tuesday, Peter Boal said he wanted to show the newbies to the roles. We saw Ben Griffiths, Matt Renko, Lesley Rausch and Emma Love Suddarth. Wow I had never seen this piece so close, it was such a treat. Peter shared some great stories, he was very eloquent and funny. He said there are 3.5 casts now (didn't name them), and I believe he said Laura Tisserand and Jonathan Porretta are the only returning dancers in lead roles.

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Casting is up for second weekend:


Casting is posted in grid-like form -- yay! -- and to toggle between the two weeks, click the + sign.

Here's the spreadsheet:

See the Music Weeks 1 and 2.xlsx

Major debuts:

Tide Harmonic:

Week 1:

  • Adomaitis/Lin-Yee, Mullins/Griffiths, Merchant/Thomson
  • Pasch/Wald, Biasucci/Suddarth, Murphy/Orza

Week 2:

  • Kitchens/Loch

Prodigal Son:

Week 1:

  • Griffiths/Rausch

Week 2:

  • Renzo/Love Suddarth
The Concert:
Week 1:
  • Ricard Orza, Rausch, Davis, Kitchens, Orza, Adomaitis, Cardea, Biasucci, Mullin, Murphy, Clark, Pasch, J. Tisserand, Renko, Loch, Suddarth

MIA from the cast lists: Lindsi Dec, Rachel Foster, Jonathan Porretta, Carrie Imler, and Karel Cruz.

Check out many new headshots and the new usable format for showing the dancers, including the new corps and apprentice Angeli Mamon; click the photo for bio details (still coming for Pertl and Basso):


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