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Tricolore: Millepied et Balanchine

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The press release:




Season-Opening Salute to France and Paris Opera Ballet
Featuring Works by Benjamin Millepied and George Balanchine
September 23 – October 2, 2016
Marion Oliver McCaw Hall
321 Mercer Street, Seattle Center
Seattle, WA 98109
September 23 at 6:30 pm
September 24 at 2:00 and 7:30 pm
September 29 – October 1 at 7:30 pm
October 2 at 1:00 pm

SEATTLE, WA – Pacific Northwest Ballet raises the curtain for its 44th season with TRICOLORE, a balletic ode to all things French. The program opens with the company’s chic 3 Movements, commissioned by PNB in 2008 and choreographed by Benjamin Millepied, artistic director of LA Dance Project and former artistic director of Paris Opera Ballet. (In 2010, Mr. Millepied choreographed the Oscar-nominated Black Swan.) A big fan of PNB, Millepied has returned to set his Appassionata on the company. The program closes with George Balanchine’s masterpiece, Symphony in C, originally created in 1947 for the Paris Opera Ballet. TRICOLORE is a fine French feast: aperitif, entrée, and elegant dessert. Bon appétit!
TRICOLORE runs for seven performances only, September 23 through October 2 at Seattle Center’s Marion Oliver McCaw Hall. Tickets start at $30. For more information, contact the PNB Box Office at 206.441.2424, in person at 301 Mercer Street, or online at PNB.org.
The line-up for TRICOLORE will include:

3 Movements

Music: Steve Reich (Three Movements for Orchestra, 1986)
Choreography: Benjamin Millepied
Scenic Design: Benjamin Millepied
Costume Design: Isabella Boylston, assisted by Larae Theige Hascall
Lighting Design: Brad Fields

Running Time: 16 minutes
Premiere: November 6, 2008, Pacific Northwest Ballet
Choreographed in 2008, 3 Movements is Benjamin Millepied’s first work for Pacific Northwest Ballet.

The dance features a large ensemble performing to Steve Reich’s massive and driving Three Movements for Orchestra.

Appassionata (PNB Premiere)

Music: Ludwig van Beethoven (Piano Sonata No. 23 in F minor, Op. 57, c. 1804-1806)
Choreography: Benjamin Millepied
Staging: Sebastien Marcovici and Janie Taylor
Scenic and Lighting Design: Lucy Carter
Costume Design: Alessandro Sartori
Lighting Supervision: Emma Jones

Running Time: 32 minutes
Premiere: February 5, 2016, Paris Opera Ballet (originally titled La nuit s’achève. Renamed Appassionata for PNB premiere.)

Benjamin Millepied’s Appassionata was choreographed for Paris Opera Ballet and premiered in February 2016 with the title La nuit s’achève (“The night ends”). For Pacific Northwest Ballet’s staging, Millepied has renamed the ballet in reference to Beethoven’s iconic, late-classical piano sonata to which the dance for three couples is set. Sonata No. 23 in F minor is one of three celebrated sonatas from Beethoven’s middle period. The music is some of his most technically challenging and the mood is tempestuous; the sonata was composed just after he came to terms with his inevitable hearing loss in 1803. The title “Appassionata” (meaning “passionate” in Italian) was not given to the work during Beethoven’s lifetime, but rather was a label added by the publisher of a four-hand arrangement in 1838. Appassionata is the second work by Benjamin Millepied to enter Pacific Northwest Ballet’s repertory. [Notes by Doug Fullington.]

Symphony in C

Music: Georges Bizet (Symphony No. 1 in C Major, 1855)
Choreography: George Balanchine © The School of American Ballet
Costume Design: Mark Zappone
Lighting Design: Randall G. Chiarelli

Running Time: 36 minutes
Premiere: July 28, 1947, Paris Opera Ballet (originally titled Le Palais de Cristal); March 22, 1948, New York City Ballet (renamed Symphony in C)
PNB Premiere: March 25, 1987

Bizet composed his Symphony in C Major when he was a 17-year-old pupil of Charles Gounod at the Paris Conservatory. The manuscript was lost for decades and was published only after it was discovered in the Conservatory’s library in 1933. Balanchine first learned of the long-vanished score from Stravinsky. In only two weeks, he choreographed the work as Le Palais de Cristal for the Paris Opera Ballet, where he was serving as a guest ballet master in 1947. Each movement of that original production featured the name of a precious stone, with costumes colored to match, a conceit to which Balanchine would return in 1967 with Jewels. The first movement was Emerald, the second Black Diamond, the third Ruby, and the fourth Pearl. When Balanchine revived the work the following year for the first performance of New York City Ballet, he simplified the scenery and costumes and changed the title to Symphony in C.
Following the structure of the symphony, the ballet is in four movements, each featuring a different ballerina, cavalier, and corps de ballet. The first movement is formal and regal. The second movement features one of Balanchine’s greatest pas de deux, and its ballerina role is considered one of the most privileged in all the Balanchine repertory. The third and fourth movements feature bravura allegro dancing. The entire cast of 48 dancers gathers for the impressive finale. [Notes by Doug Fullington.]



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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 show times at McCaw Hall.


Special Events:



Friday, September 16, 5:00 pm

The Phelps Center, 301 Mercer St., Seattle

PNB’s popular Friday Previews are hour-long studio rehearsals hosted by Artistic Director Peter Boal and PNB artistic staff, featuring Company dancers rehearsing excerpts from upcoming ballets. Tickets are $15. (Note: These events usually sell out in advance.)  Friday Previews are sponsored by U.S. Bank.



Wednesday, September 21, 6:30 pm PST

Join Pacific Northwest Ballet online for an on-stage rehearsal with Benjamin Millepied, live from Seattle Center’s McCaw Hall. Mr. Millepied will be rehearsing excerpts from 3 Movements (created for PNB in 2008) and Appassionata (created for Paris Opera Ballet in 2016) with the Company. Visit PNB.org/live for more information.



Thursday, September 22

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

Dress Rehearsal 7:00 pm, McCaw Hall

Join Artistic Director Peter Boal in conversation with choreographer Benjamin Millepied during the hour preceding the dress rehearsal. Attend the lecture only or stay for the rehearsal. Tickets are $15 for the lecture, or $30 for the lecture and dress rehearsal. Tickets may be purchased through the PNB Box Office.



Friday, September 23, 2016

Celebrate the opening night of PNB’s 44th season with an elegant cocktail reception, a black-tie backstage dinner post-show, followed by dessert and dancing onstage! Featuring special guest of honor Benjamin Millepied (artistic director of LA Dance Project and former artistic director of Paris Opera Ballet). FIRST LOOK tickets start at $400 (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 Audience Education 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 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. (No Q&A on Fri., 9/23.)



Friday, September 30
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. For more info, visit PNB.org and search for “YPC.”

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After stalking the site all day, I got home to see that casting is up for the first weekend:  Carrie Imler and Rachel Foster are back, in "Symphony in C"!   No sign of Lindsi Dec, who looked wonderful in the Jacob's Pillow preview, Benjamin Griffiths, Joshua Grant, or Kyle Davis in principal casting first weekend.  Maybe next week when Week 2 casting comes out.


Here's the link:



Here's the downloadable spreadsheet for signed-in members:

2016-17 Tricolore Week 1.xlsx


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I'm a crazy person but I am so happy to see Carrie Imler back in.  She is my favorite performing dancer that I've never seen live.  Maybe I should start a thread devoted to that idea.  In any event I love what I see of her on video and pictures.  I'm in NYC and go to see PNB when they come here but Imler either hadn't been cast well or hasn't come. I'm happy to hear she's back, being cast and more videos are possible.


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15 minutes ago, vipa said:

I'm a crazy person but I am so happy to see Carrie Imler back in.  She is my favorite performing dancer that I've never seen live.  Maybe I should start a thread devoted to that idea.  In any event I love what I see of her on video and pictures.  I'm in NYC and go to see PNB when they come here but Imler either hadn't been cast well or hasn't come. I'm happy to hear she's back, being cast and more videos are possible.



Vipa, maybe you can catch Carrie in the livestream rehearsal on the 21st. That's probably as close as you can get to seeing her in person.

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A bit off topic (but may be of interest to Millepied fans in Seattle):

Reset, the new documentary on Millepied, will be screened in Seattle on Oct. 3, 7:30 pm, as part of the French Cinema Now festival at SIFF Cinema Uptown, just a few blocks west of McCaw Hall.  Peter Boal will be introducing the film.  Here's a link for more information and tickets:


Edited by gravitysalad
Date correction
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On September 13, 2016 at 6:50 PM, Helene said:

After stalking the site all day, I got home to see that casting is up for the first weekend:  Carrie Imler and Rachel Foster are back, in "Symphony in C"!   No sign of Lindsi Dec, who looked wonderful in the Jacob's Pillow preview, Benjamin Griffiths, Joshua Grant, or Kyle Davis in principal casting first weekend.  Maybe next week when Week 2 casting comes out.


Here's the link:



Here's the downloadable spreadsheet for signed-in members:

2016-17 Tricolore Week 1.xlsx



Second week casting posted on the website. A few more debuts in Symphony in C by Murphy/Grant, Mullins/Griffiths, Generosa/Renko. Also some repeats from first weekend in case you missed someone in a role that you can't bear to miss.

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Before the weekend there were changes to Week 1 casting:  Rausch and Bold are out.  Pertl replaces Bold as L. Tisserand's partner in "3 Movements, with Bold returning in Week 2.  Foster is now partnered with J. Tisserand both weekends.  Loch replaces Bold as Imler's partner in "Symphony in C" First Movement on Opening Night, with Pantastico and Orza moving to the Saturday matinee in place of Imler and Bold, and Dec and Loch are dancing on Saturday evening.  Ricard Orza replaces Rausch in Second Movement, and she and Lin-Yee move to the Saturday matinee, with L. Tisserand and K. Cruz moving to Saturday evening.


Here is the update spreadsheet:

2016-17 Tricolore Weeks 1 and 2 Sep 19.xlsx


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Mostly that the casting first weekend is insane, with Jerome Tisserand, Elizabeth Murphy, Karel Cruz, and Sarah Ricard and Seth Orza dancing "Appassionata" and "Symphony in C" at the same performance.  It's much more humane second weekend, with them alternating between the two ballets. 


More casting updates:

  • Laura Tisserand will be in both casts of "3 Movements" first weekend
  • Pertl replaces Bold in "3 Movements" second weekend, dancing with Laura Tisserand.
  • Renko replaces Porretta both weekends, dancing with Biasucci and Generosa in Third Movement, "Symphony in C."


2016-17 Tricolore Weeks 1 and 2 Sep 23.xlsx

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Margaret Mullin was supposed to be in "3 Movements" and First Movement (demi) in "Symphony in C," but Biasucci took her place in the Millepied and Generosa took her place in "Symphony in C," which meant Clark took Generosa's place as a Fourth Movement demi, and Nancy Casciano took Clark's place as a Second Movement demi.  (This was the same casting as in the dress rehearsal last night.)  My program looks like one of those post-play football diagrams on TV.


Some short notes:  As noted on its own thread, promotions were listed in the program as news and in the roster and photos section, and in the pause between "3 Movements" and "Appasionata" Peter Boal brought each dancer out separately, spoke about him or her, and presented the dancer with flowers.  Angelica Generosa and Matthew Renko were promoted to Soloists, and Benjamin Griffiths, whose picture is in the dictionary under "excellence," got a long-due and well-deserved promotion to Principal.  Renko's promotion was also sweet because I could gloat again over what a fool Peter Martins is.  Now if only Sara Mearns would like to make her escape...


Does Peter Boal have a secret video of Adam Sklute kicking puppies?  I can't think of any other reason that Sklute would let Madison Taylor out of his sight.  She danced vividly in "3 Movements" and Second Movement demi in "Symphony in C," where her every transition was regal and exquisite.  Also dancing way above rank was Elle Macy in "Appassionata," a breakout role for her.  I know the ballet was done for Paris Opera Ballet (under the title "La nuit s'acheve") but it look liked the part Jerome Tisserand danced was made on him.  Miles Pertl, partnering Laura Tisserand in the central couple of "3 Movements", was very specific about the relationship, and he was a sunny, generous presence as a Third Movement "Symphony in C" demi.  


Rachel Foster danced Fourth Movement with a lovely softness.  Carrie Imler was majestic in First Movement.   They're back!


The Second Movement "Symphony in C" corps was one new apprentice and five PD students, and they looked terrific.  (I think I counted 12 PD's in the ballet.)  There was much overlap between the First and Third Movement corps or corps and demi roles, and overlap between Second and Fourth Movement.


Allan Dameron's playing in "Appasionata" was to die for.

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I'm thinking a lot about specificity this weekend, and about how timing enhances it in particular.  The small, nuanced emphases Miles Pertl made and his focus on Laura Tisserand when partnering her in the pas de deux in "3 Movements" made it a central part of the ballet and set aside that couple as something other than another unit of continuous movement.  Without it, I was more interested in the second set of couples, danced this weekend by Sarah Ricard Orza and Lindsi Dec or Elizabeth Murphy  and Joshua Grant and Seth Orza or William Lin-Yee.  When Carrie Imler danced First Movement of "Symphony in C", including the reprise, each look to the side, or to the tiers, was precise, a queen acknowledging her subjects, with a gracious, soft arm and hand timed perfectly to the gaze with true classical ballerina symmetry and balance, but always with Balanchine's neoclassical intent.  She, too, as she often does, slowed time down, here with regal grace.  Matthew Renko and Steven Loch in the same role in "3 Movements" embraced Millepied's movement vocabulary, each in his own striking and impactful way, and watching Ezra Thomson make thoughtful and inspired choices that look organic, spontaneous, and always musical was pure joy.


As strong as the first cast of "Appassionata" was, the stars were aligned for the second cast.  Not all married couples have chemistry, but the Orzas do, and their performance in the central adagio exposed an intimacy that never felt voyeuristic.  While they have other partners briefly, most of the switching happens between the couple who starts out in red and the couple that starts out in blue, and Margaret Mullin, Miles Pertl, Noelani Pantastico, and Steven Loch made an airtight case for why the pairings end the way they do. 


Peter Boal must have decided that dancing a ballet that is not only aerobically challenging, but also, where the woman have to change from pointe shoes to ballet slippers for the second and third movements, and then switch back to pointe shoes during a 20-minute intermission to then lift spent legs in the never-ending jumping in Third Movement (Murphy, on Opening Night) or to make a debut with the nerve-wracking balances in the Second Movement (Sarah Ricard Orza at the matinee), or to lead the long and arduous First Movement (Noelani Pantastico at the matinee) were good ideas instead of out of the Spanish Inquisition playbook, but, somehow, these superhuman ballerinas did it magnificently.  (Elizabeth Murphy said in last night's Q&A she ate a gel pack like the Tour de France riders do, and the comparison was more than apt.) The same goes for Jerome Tisserand -- no pointe shoe swap, but substitute strenuous partnering -- who danced Third Movement with Murphy.   Ricard Orza, partnered by William Lin-Yee, expressed all of the subtleties and the temperamental changes with aplomb and mastery, an exquisite debut in one of Balanchine's most iconic female roles.  


Leta Biasucci, on relatively fresh legs, and Matthew Renko made a brilliant debut in Third Movement in "Symphony in C" last night, both barely skimming the floor.  Renko had also partnered Margaret Mullin in one of the First Movement demi roles, with Guillaume Basso subbing in for him among the demi men in the reprise and finale.  Angelica Generosa made her first debut in a lead -- she does Third Movement with Renko next Saturday -- and she danced a beautifully pure Fourth Movement with a buoyant Price Suddarth last night.


The afternoon's Q&A featured Noelani Pantastico, who, last night, attended "The Stranger"'s Genius Awards ceremony as a nominee.  (The results haven't been posted yet.)  She described her early training: at age 11 she was taking one class a week ("on Wednesdays") before studying at Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, where she took classes six days a week until she was 16.  She credited CPYB with enabling her to become a professional dancer, having gotten that late start.  She went to the PNB summer program several years in a row, before Russell and Stowell offered her an apprenticeship at 16, leading Boal to wonder if she was the youngest hire in the Company's history, since so many of the dancers who come through the school are PD's in their mid-late teens, often becoming apprentices at 18 or 19.


When asked about the challenges of "Appassionata" back to back with "Symphony in C," she, like Murphy in the evening Q&A, said that the movement in ballet slippers felt heavy and grounded, and then, aside from the logistical issues -- ex: costume, hair, and shoe changes -- the dancing again had to be pulled up.  She also said that she just had to trust her training.  When asked about how her experience was different with Les Ballets de Monte Carlo, she said that after the first three years, she knew all of the roles and then the challenges were refining them to give more and more of what Maillot wanted and the touring, adjusting to different stages -- raked vs. flat, harder vs. softer, different sizes -- and traveling, that could be anywhere from 3-14 hours, with only two-three times a year performing in Monte Carlo.  She said that what she brought back from that experience was confidence, the ability to play with the movement/steps and interpret, instead of always being directed, an ease, and a greater sense of space with everyone else on stage and how she related to them.  (That showed especially in "Appassionata.")  She also said that Millepied said that he had wanted to choreograph to this Beethoven sonata since he was in his teens, and he knew what he wanted to do for the opening movement, but only as an adult knew what he wanted to do with the last movement.  


I'm looking forward to seeing this program again next weekend.  It runs Thursday-Saturday night (7:30pm) and a Sunday matinee (1pm).


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