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Carrie Imler and Batkhurel Bold Are Retiring at the End of the 2016-17 Season

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I just watched it again and was amazed, filled with joy and moved all over again!! To find the link I went to facebook, the PNB page and scrolled down to the encore performance. It will be available until July 11. One more thing - I thought Peter Boal's speech was beautiful.  

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At the end of Sunday's matinee post-performance Q&A, someone asked if Otto Neubert or Steven Loch has any funny stories about Carrie and Bold.


Steven said how Bold was injured in September and that Boal asked him to partner Carrie opening night.  He said it was such a hugue honor - opening night and all and Carrie's return to the stage after her maternity leave.


Otto told the story of how Bold auditioned in DC.  Bold did a huge coupe jeté manège, and Otto said the studio wasn't big enough and Bold was scraping all the walls.  He said that we (he, Kent and Francis I assume) thought "Who is this boy?  We must have him in our company!".

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My favorite Bold story was one Francia Russell told in a Q&A.


When he first came to the US, he spoke his native tongue and Russian, but not English.  While it was clear that as his first year went by he was understanding the language, they'd never heard him speak, until one day, a year later, he did, and they realized he could just fine.  He just hadn't, at least to them,  until then :)

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I don't know if I missed this originally, or it's my aging brain, and I don't remember, but here is a 6+-minute documentary on Batkhurel Bold in 2010 by students at what was then called Seattle Community College.  It has parts of an interview with his mom, photos of him as a young boy, and short footage of him in "Serenade" with Lindsi Dec and Carla Korbes, in the 1998 competition in Jackson, and more wonderful clips in the closing credits.  


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There were two essays, one by Francia Russell and Kent Stowell, and the other by Peter Boal, in the Encore booklet:


As painful as it is to see Carrie & Bold retire, there is a sense of inevitability about them ending their wonderful careers together.  What a great artistic partnership this has been!  More than twenty years together, in the studio and the stage.  And it all began at the Kennedy Center, where each of them first saw PNB and was inspired to audition for us.


CARRIE has that rare gift of putting audiences at ease.  With both exciting and secure technique, sumptuously beautiful line, engaging warmth, and intelligent musicality, she guarantees her public a great performance, as her colleagues marvel in the wings.  We first saw Carrie on the opening day of PNB School’s 1994 Summer course and knew instantly that she was ready for the Company.  Waiting a year for a contract, she was the ideal student and a role model for her colleagues, who included Jodie Thomas and Maria Chapman.  It was clear that she was destined to be one of the most important dancers PNB would ever have.


In a recent conversation, Carrie first said she had no favorite roles, that her career was full of favorites.  But three that stood out were Ronald Hynd’s Merry Widow and Kent’s Juliet and Carmen, her first role after being made a principal.  We also talked about her first Aurora in The Sleeping Beauty.  Carrie was an understudy in the back of the studio with no private rehearsals.  When Louise Nadeau suffered an injury, and other dancers were exhausted, we asked Carrie if she thought she could perform one of classical ballet’s most daunting roles the next afternoon—without a stage rehearsal.  Her instant reply was: “Sure. I think I can do that.”  Her calm seemed surreal, but we knew how deep and strong her emotions are.  And we knew her abilities.  As expected, her performance was a triumph.  Only Carrie!


In our minds’ eyes we can still picture BOLD, a handsome, painfully shy, 18-year-old doing his triple tours in a corner of the studio at the Kennedy Center.  We didn’t even know he was there to audition, and that was the only way he knew how to impress us.  It worked, and our hearts went out to him forever.


Several years ago, Bold, Le Yin, and Karel Cruz described what it had been like for them to leave their families at very early ages to study ballet.  In each case, their parents were doing what they thought best for their son: an opportunity for education and training in a respected profession—Le Yin’s in China and Karel’s in Cuba.  Bold’s story seemed the most dramatic.  Perm, in the Soviet Union, was a long way from Ulan Bator in Mongolia—in distance, culture, and language.  Bold was just seven years old, on a four-day train journey with some other students and a chaperone, watching his homeland disappear.  These dancers’ love for their families is deep in ways we can only attempt to understand, but it’s good to note that each has had a stellar career, married a fellow PNB principal dancer, and has a new family in America.


Bold would be the first to agree the was a bit of a handful at first, but his great gifts as both dancer and partner were never in doubt.  Astonishing technical feats, huge, easy jumps, and a magnetic presence made him an instant attraction, and, as he matured, he became a mainstay of the Company, partnering every ballerina—most frequently Carrie—and dancing leading roles form strictly classical to wildly contemporary.


A partnership like Carrie & Bold’s is a rarity in our world of dance.  All the roles they have danced—a vast number of them together—display more varied and exciting careers than any young dancer in the world would dare to dream.  Now neither of them is in any doubt that they are making the right decision at the right time.  Carrie’s new life really began when she and her husband Hans Miller welcomed little Markus Miller into their family.  And Bold’s began last June when he and Lesley Rausch were the radiant stars of their wedding by the beach in Honolulu.


Carrie is an experience and superb teacher, so we know how she will continue.  Bold says his relationship with ballet ends this evening, but we hope he will change his mind in time.  Knowledge like theirs, characters like theirs, will contribute to whatever they decide to do.  Tonight we applaud their two brilliant careers and feel proud to know them, to love them, and to be in the audience to see them dance one last time.


Kent & Francia

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When I arrived in Seattle, I knew many of the dancers at PNB, but I didn’t know Carrie Imler or Batkhurel Bold.  I entered Studio A in May of 2004 and settled on the floor to watch a rehearsal of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.  Carrie was Titania.  She was engaged in the required custody battle with Oberon as penned by Shakespeare.  She wasn’t as tall as the Titanias I had seen before, and my first thought was that she might be more suited to the role of Hermia.  The following scene, known as the “Athalie”, is where Titania and her cavalier execute challenging choreography among their court of fairies.  She simply devoured the space around her even if was the air above.  She made the musical score come to visual life, seeming to conduct an entire orchestra with each step.  If ever there was a dancer’s dancer, it is Carrie Imler.  Through pristine technique, laser-focused musical phrasing, and sheer zest for movement, Carrie refined the role of Titania for me in just one sitting.


Not long after, I saw Bold perform as Prince Ivan in Firebird opposite the diminutive Kaori Nakamura.  In a way, it was a perfect role for Bold.  He loomed over Kaori with a back twice the width of hers and legs that seemed not to know the limits of flexibility.  He moved like a panther (and still does), but this animalistic dancer demonstrated a rare sensitivity in his handling of his partner.  It was more than just lifting her with ease or making sure she could execute pirouettes successfully.  He approached Kaori with true tenderness, care, and humanity.  This was not the role; this was Bold.


Bold and Carrie have spoken about the privilege they have known in every season and every role of their careers.  I heel a similar privilege has been afforded me in working with these two.


Retirements aren’t easy.  Careers aren’t easy.  PNB is a tight-knit community and the analogy to a family is spot on.  Balancing highlights and glory are plenty of scars and bruises along the way.  On the other side of the curtain, we run the gamut of emotions and with each incident the bonds between all of us grow deeper.  I am so proud of Carried and Bold—particularly for the strength and maturity they have demonstrated.


The onstage triumphs are easy to recall.  For Carrie it’s Aurora, Swan Lake Titania, Myrtha, Kitri, Vespers, Waiting at the Station, The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude, and now La Source.  It’s also how she managed a challenging hip injury and returned to the stage so triumphantly in Square Dance (at 9,000 fest above sea level in Vail Colorado.  Thanks, Peter!)  It’s her successful balancing of “Ballerinadom” and motherhood and how giving she is as a teacher, coach, friend, and daughter.  She is an inspiration and will continue to be so in so many ways, but especially in our School as she teaches the next generation.


Your may have noticed Bold starting to smile a few years ago.  It may have something to do with his marriage to Lesley, but I suspect that was just part of it.  The smiling has become chronic.  He even started chatting, joking, and laughing—a lot.  He is such a pleasure to have in the room and so supporting and encouraging of every dancer in our Company, from the newest apprentice to veteran principals. His heart is big and seems to be growing.


Bold would literally throw himself in front of a bus for any of his partners or peers.  I’d be worried for the bus—this guy is strong.  He’s come into my office injured, on more than one occasion, and offered to dance so his partner would not miss a performance.  This was often Carrie.  His devotion to those around him completely outweighs his concern for himself.  In planning this farewell performance, he wanted the spotlight on Carrie and only begrudgingly allowed us to honor him as well.  I came to him with a long list of roles I wanted to see one more time:  Rassemblement, Moor’s Pavane, Diamonds, Dancing on the Front Porch of Heaven.  Can’t we have just a few more multiple turns and gravity defying leaps?  We will savor the roles Carrie and Bold dance tonight, but remain even more grateful for the wealthy of spectacular performances we have witnessed over the past twenty-one years.


Thank you, Carrie and Bold, for giving so generously to our company and to our lives.  You will continue to inspire, and we are all so pleased to know you and to have experienced your rare gifts on stage and off.  Congratulations on your extraordinary careers.  Take a bow.


Peter Boal

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Beautiful and moving tributes. I have to say that I admire the way Peter Boal speaks of any dancer who retires, even corps members. Being an AD is hard but he seems to handle it with a great deal of humanity. BTW he was one of my all time favorites in the role of Apollo!

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A critic is not supposed to be a fan – we’re supposed to be more objective about the artists we watch.  But it’s difficult, when you’ve followed someone’s career for many years, to see it ending without a sense of impending loss.


Carrie Imler’s dancing contains many of the virtues we find in classical ballet.  It’s clear, each step articulated completely; it’s fluid, making connections between elements; and it’s virtuosic, that signature combination of athleticism and restraint.  For years I’ve pointed to her dancing when I’ve been asked what something was supposed to look like.  But beyond the sheer technical expertise, she is able to use her skills to make a dance make sense – to illustrate the long arc of development and establish the overall matrix of style.  I haven’t loved every dance I’ve seen her perform, but I have understood them, in large part because of her performance.


I’m told that she’s easy to work with, picks up material quickly, takes direction, dances full out, is willing to take risks and try new things.  I know that she feels a sense of responsibility to the choreographer and the integrity of the work she performs, whether it’s part of the 19th century repertory or a dance made yesterday.  All of these things influence her in the place that most of us know her best, on stage in performance.  Since she’s spent all of her professional life at Pacific Northwest Ballet, we’ve had many times to see her work – these are just a few examples of what we’ve had a chance to watch.


Petipa – For many people, the Petipa repertory is the gold standard for classical ballet – his works are packed with challenges for dancers at all levels, from the iconic main roles like Aurora and Kitri, through a multitude of smaller parts.  Although they are only a part of PNB’s repertory, Imler has had many excellent roles in them.  Several people have pointed out her early success in a variation of “Paquita” (getting attention from the New York Times during a tour to NYC), but one of my favorite moments was in the Gold and Silver trio from “Sleeping Beauty.” The choreography repeats one long section, but has the dancer facing upstage rather than the audience – Imler’s clarity and attack in that phrase was just as pristine in the repeat with her back to the audience as it was in the original phrase facing us. Later on, she would have great success with Aurora and with the Lilac Fairy, but she’d already set a standard for her work ethic. 


Balanchine – As a product of Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, Imler came to PNB with significant experience in neoclassical ballet, and of course she’s had multiple chances to explore that repertory.  She shone in many roles, including Polyhymnia in “Apollo,” Titania and Hippolyta in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” and in “Symphony in Three Movements,” but one of my favorite memories is of her performances in “Square Dance,” where her ability to manipulate timing added another layer to the score by Vivaldi.  I had been trying to explain the concept of précipité to a colleague, the two-part phrase where a quick movement, often a pique or a releve, follows a suspension.  Imler’s dancing in that ballet was full of examples of précipité, giving her performance a wonderful sense of play.


Tharp – Her duet with Jonathan Porretta to Somethin’ Stupid in “Nine Sinatra Songs” was a great example of Imler-as-dowager (a balleticized version of Margaret Dumont), and her performances in “Opus 111” and “Waiting at the Station” (both roles made on her) were full of wonderful moments, but I think my favorite Imler moment in a Tharp ballet is from “In the Upper Room,” where she grabs the sky and pulls it down to finish the ballet – she’s like a Valkyrie calling down the gods from Valhalla.


Giselle – For several years I kept wishing that PNB would stage "Giselle" so that I could see Imler dance Myrtha, but when they did it was even more than I had hoped – Doug Fullington’s reconstructions from Stepanov notation added incredible depth to the production.  Alastair Macaulay said that Imler reminded him of a young Queen Victoria in the role, and I think he put his finger on something fundamental.  Her performance was indeed queenly – in the opening of the second act, where she consecrates the forest clearing, Imler was calm and clear – not a vengeful harridan, but the ruler of a nocturnal kingdom.


Pite – “Emergence” brought out all of Imler’s powerful instincts, especially in the duet with Porretta – one of the many times I know I will wonder what she would do with something will be next season, when the company performs “Plot Point.”


Ratmansky – In both “Concerto DSCH” and “Pictures at an Exhibition,” Imler danced the cheerful ringleader parts, happy to be among her colleagues, but also shepherding them along when the need arose. 


Kylian – Imler’s performances really ran the gamut with Kylian’s work, as a ditz in “Sechs Tanze,” and a force of nature in “Forgotten Land.”


There are many more examples that I could point to, many more ballets that I know better because I saw her performance of them, but I think right now is a good time to stop.  It’s been pure pleasure to follow her career, and I’m hoping that whatever she does next, she passes some of her knowledge on to the next generation.   

Edited by sandik
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