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Ballet on Broadway, April 14-15 and 20-23

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PNB's "Ballet on Broadway" program is right around the corner.  Here is the press release:


Part 1:


Another op’nin’ of another show!

Pacific Northwest Ballet presents


Featuring works by



April 14 – 23, 2017

Marion Oliver McCaw Hall

321 Mercer Street at Seattle Center

Seattle, WA 98109


April 14 and 15 at 7:30 pm

April 15 at 2:00 pm

April 20 – 22 at 7:30 pm

April 23 at 1:00 pm


SEATTLE, WA – Come on along and listen to the lullaby of Broadway: Pacific Northwest Ballet takes its audiences on a trip down the Great White Way – while staying right here in Seattle – withBALLET ON BROADWAY, the fifth offering of PNB’s 2016-2017 season. BALLET ON BROADWAY sets the stage with three crowd-pleasing hits, George Balanchine’s Slaughter on Tenth Avenue (from the musical On Your Toes), Christopher Wheeldon’s Carousel (A Dance), and Jerome Robbins’ West Side Story Suite. Packed with Tony Award-winning music and choreography, plus sets, costumes, the mighty PNB Orchestra and – of course – incomparable dancing, BALLET ON BROADWAY promises to be boffo blockbuster entertainment and April’s most magical, musical night on the town.


BALLET ON BROADWAY runs for seven performances only, April 14 through 23, 2017 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.


Join members of PNB’s Young Patrons Circle for Backstage Bash: Curtain Call, an after-party immediately following the Friday, April 21 performance of BALLET ON BROADWAY. Doors will open at 10:00 for an event filled with entertainment, live music, and an onstage DJ. Tickets to this 21+ event are available through the PNB Box Office. See “Special Events” (below) for more information.


The line-up for BALLET ON BROADWAY will include:


Slaughter on Tenth Avenue

Music: Richard Rodgers (from On Your Toes, 1936), orchestrated by Hershey Kay

Choreography: George Balanchine © The George Balanchine Trust

Staging: Susan Pilarre

Scenic and Lighting Design: Holly Hynes

Running Time: 23 minutes

Premiere: April 13, 1967; New York City Ballet

PNB Premiere: September 20, 2008


Balanchine originally choreographed Slaughter on Tenth Avenue in 1936 for the musical On Your Toes, in which Ray Bolger played The Hoofer and Tamara Geva portrayed The Stripper. The show was a parody of Broadway, Russian ballet, and the mob, in which a jealous Russian premier danseur hires a mobster to kill a rival during the premiere of a new ballet, Slaughter on Tenth Avenue.  The ballet itself tells the story of a tacky strip joint and the customer who falls in love with the Big Boss’ girl.  The premier danseur arranges for the hoofer to be killed, but the girl saves him.  At Balanchine’s insistence, On Your Toes was the first Broadway musical to credit staged dances as “choreography,” and is considered the first musical in which the dances were integrated into the plot, performed by dancers who were also dramatic characters. 


On Your Toes was the first of four Rodgers and Hart musicals choreographed by Balanchine. The others were Babes in Arms, I Married an Angel, and The Boys from Syracuse. In 1967, Balanchine mounted Slaughter on Tenth Avenue as a separate work for New York City Ballet. Casting Suzanne Farrell and Arthur Mitchell in the lead roles, Balanchine followed the original ideas but made new choreography.


The 2008 Pacific Northwest Ballet premiere of George Balanchine’s Slaughter on Tenth Avenuewas generously underwritten by Dan & Pam Baty. The works of George Balanchine performed by Pacific Northwest Ballet are made possible in part by The Louise Nadeau Endowed Fund.


Carousel (A Dance)©

Music: Richard Rodgers (“Carousel Waltz” and “If I Loved You” from Carousel, 1945), arranged and orchestrated by William David Brohn

Choreography: Christopher Wheeldon

Costume Design: Mark Stanley

Running Time: 15 minutes

Premiere: November 26, 2002; New York City Ballet

PNB Premiere: March 12, 2009


The musical Carousel, with music by Richard Rodgers and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II, premiered in 1945.  The show won acclaim for its many hit musical numbers and for its innovative plot about the ill-fated marriage of young millworker Julie Jordan and carnival barker Billy Bigelow.


Christopher Wheeldon’s salute to Rodgers includes the composer’s melodic and evocative “Carousel Waltz” and “If I Loved You” in a reverie that distills Carousel’s carnival atmosphere as well as its theme of tragic romance.  A large corps de ballet creates a stylized carousel on stage, their movements often separating the lovers.  With a simple hint at the story, Wheeldon catches the sweep and emotion of the music and the poignant, doomed nature of the lead couple’s relationship with a tender and romantic pas de deux.


Carousel (A Dance) was the fourth of five ballets by Christopher Wheeldon to be added to PNB’s repertory, following Polyphonia (acquired in 2007), Variations Sérieuses (2008), and After the Rain pas de deux (2008). PNB subsequently commissioned Wheeldon’s Tide Harmonic (2013).


The 2009 Pacific Northwest Ballet premiere of Christopher Wheeldon’s Carousel (A Dance) was generously underwritten in part by PNB’s Board of Trustees, Advisory Board, Members of the Barre, and Stowell Society.


West Side Story Suite

Music: Leonard Bernstein (“Prologue,” “Something’s Coming,” “Dance at the Gym,” “Cool,” “America,” “Rumble,” and “Somewhere Ballet” from West Side Story, 1957)

Lyrics: Stephen Sondheim
Choreography: Jerome Robbins with Peter Gennaro

Staging: Robert LaFosse and Jenifer Ringer

Vocal Coaching: Joan Barber

Scenic Design: Oliver Smith

Costume Design: Irene Sharaff

Lighting Design: Jennifer Tipton

Running Time: 36 Minutes

Premiere: May 18, 1995; New York City Ballet

PNB Premiere: March 12, 2009


With a book written by Arthur Laurents, music by Leonard Bernstein, lyrics by Stephen

Sondheim, and choreography by Jerome Robbins, the musical West Side Story is one of the most popular theatrical productions based on William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.  Set on Manhattan’s Upper West Side in the mid-1950s, West Side Story explores the rivalry between two teenage gangs of different ethnic and cultural backgrounds. Young Tony, who belongs to the native Manhattan gang, the Jets, falls in love with Maria, the sister of the leader of the rival Puerto Rican gang, the Sharks.  The dark theme, sophisticated music, extended dance scenes, and focus on social problems marked a turning point in American musical theater.


The original 1957 Broadway production, directed and choreographed by Jerome Robbins, marked Stephen Sondheim’s Broadway debut as lyricist.  The production earned a Tony Award in 1957 for Robbins’ choreography.  The musical led to the innovative, award-winning 1961 musical film, winning 10 Academy Awards out of 11 nominations, including Best Director, for Robbins and Robert Wise, and Best Picture. Jerome Robbins extracted a sequence of dances from West Side Story to make this suite for New York City Ballet in 1995.


The 2009 PNB premiere of Jerome Robbins’ West Side Story Suite was generously underwritten by Marcella McCaffray, Lyndall Boal, Carl & Renee Behnke, and Aya Stark Hamilton.

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Part 2:




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

·         Phone - 206.441.2424 (Mon.-Fri. 10am–6pm*)

·         In Person - 301 Mercer Street, Seattle (Mon.-Fri. 10am–6pm*)

·         Online - PNB.org (24/7)

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

*On Saturday performance days, the box office and phones are open 10am – 6pm.



Discounts are available for groups of 10 or more. For group tickets for your family, friends, and coworkers, 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/Group-Tickets.



The Pointe is PNB’s exclusive mailing list for ballet fans between the ages of 20 and 40. Members of The Pointe receive information about special events and flash sales just for them. Born between 1977 and 1997? Visit PNB.org/The Pointe for more information and to sign up.



PNB is a proud participant of TeenTix. Originally founded by Seattle Center, TeenTix’s members (13 to 19 years old) can purchase tickets to PNB 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.






Friday, April 7, 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.



Thursday, April 13

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

Dress Rehearsal 7:00 pm, McCaw Hall

Join former PNB principal dancer Louise Nadeau for a panel discussion with PNB’s West Side Story Suite Anitas (Lindsi Dec, Carrie Imler, Noelani Pantastico) 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 are available through the PNB Box Office.



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.



Thursday, April 20
PNB presents an encore of its wildly-popular BEER & BALLET night, with specially-priced tickets and discounts on select beer and wine. For more information, visit PNB.org.



Friday, April 21, 10:00 pm
Join members of PNB’s Young Patrons Circle (YPC) for Backstage Bash: Curtain Call, a backstage after-party immediately following the Friday, April 21 performance of BALLET ON BROADWAY. Doors will open at 10:00 for an event filled with entertainment, live music, and an onstage DJ. YPC caters the event with appetizers and a beer/wine bar. Tickets to the Bash are available through the PNB Box Office. (This is a 21+ event. Admission to the Bash does not include the BALLET ON BROADWAY performance: Receive 20% off performance tickets with Bash ticket purchase.) Special thanks to Ten Mercer, Dilettante Chocolates, Stella Artois, Chateau Ste. Michelle, and Chris Graves Music. YPC is PNB’s social and educational group for ballet patrons ages 21 through 39. YPC members save up to 40% off their ballet tickets. For more information about YPC, visit PNB.org/YPC.

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Casting for first weekend won't be out until next week, but PNB posted to Facebook that Lindsi Dec and Karel Cruz will be "reprising their roles of Anita and Bernardo in "West Side Story Suite:"


They are not paired nearly enough.  They've been stunning together in "Petite Mort" and as both Kitri and Basilio and Mercedes and Espada in the Ratmansky "Don Quixote."

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Here is the link to the downloadable spreadsheet with Week 1 casting as of day (subject to change):

PNB Ballet on Broadway Week 1 6 Apr 17.xlsx


  • On opening night, Angelica Generosa and Margaret Mullin debut as Maria and Rosalia in "West Side Story Suite."
  • In the Saturday matinee performance, Elizabeth Murphy makes her debut in "Carousel (A Dance)," partnered by Jerome Tisserand.
  • In the Saturday evening performance, Lindsi Dec and Steven Loch debut as Striptease Girl and Hoofer in "Slaughter on Tenth Avenue," and Benjamin Griffiths (Tony), James Moore (Riff), Noelani Pantastico (Anita), Sarah-Gabrielle Ryan (Maria), and Nicole Rizzitano (Rosalia) all debut in "West Side Story Suite."
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Second weekend casting is posted already!  https://www.pnb.org/season/16-17/broadway/. It seems unusually early but I'm glad since I can't go opening weekend.


Second Friday Leah Merchant debuts as Striptease Girl, Miles Pertl debuts as Hoofer in "Slaughter on Tenth Avenue"


Second Saturday in "West Side Story Suite" Ezra Thomson debuts as Riff and Amanda Morgan as Rosalia


Sunday Price Suddarth debuts as Tony in "West Side Story Suite"


Sorry my formatting is not as fancy as Helene's but I thought I would give her a break.  She'll probably do the spreadsheet thing though.

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Peter Boals email for "Ballet on Broadway" (emphasis mine):


Dear Friends,


We are Broadway bound this week. The sounds of tough talk, tap shoes and song can be heard everywhere, and we can’t wait to lift the curtain for you tomorrow night. Here are a few fun facts you may not know:


·         You’ll see three film clips, one before each of the ballets. There are a few familiar faces in each. Watch for a young Jacques d’Amboise in Carousel, Eddie Albert in Slaughter on Tenth Avenue and Rita Moreno and Natalie Wood in West Side Story.

·         Each of the works on this program has extensive scenic elements and costuming. Backstage we have 2 quick-change booths, 8 dressers, 5 people on call for costume maintenance and a crew of 24!

·         Christopher Wheeldon has worked on Broadway twice. He choreographed Sweet Smell of Success in 2002. Unfortunately the show was not much of a success. Quite the opposite for An American in Paris, which earned Chris a Tony Award in 2015. The show comes to the Paramount next month and some of the cast will be joining us in Company class while they’re in town.

·         We have three hoofers in Slaughter. Seth Orza is returning to the role he danced in 2009.  Steven Loch and Miles Pertl will make their debuts. Steven started tapping at age 5. Miles Pertl grew up Irish step dancing (in Georgetown, Seattle!), which seems to translate well into tap dancing. You’ll also see impressive tapping from our bartenders.

·         When Jerome Robbins created West Side Story Suite for NYCB in 1995, he supplemented the cast with a few Broadway singers. Rosalia was played by Kristen Chenowith.

·         Former NYCB principal Jenifer Ringer staged WSSS along with Robert LaFosse. During Jenny’s singing audition for Jerome Robbins, she sang I’m a Little Teapot. Must have been pretty good because she was chosen for Anita.


See you on Broadway!



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From the same email, as of today (subject to change):



Lecture Hall (Wardrobe level)


Friday 14-Apr eve Lesley Rausch

Saturday 15-Apr mat Margaret Mullin

Saturday 15-Apr eve Noelani Pantastico


Thursday 20-Apr eve Nicole Rizzitano Sarah-Gabrielle Ryan

Friday 21-Apr eve Seth Orza

Saturday 22-Apr eve Benjamin Griffiths Ezra Thomson

Sunday 23-Apr mat James Moore


Link to downloadable .pdf:

Post-performance Q&A Rep 5.pdf

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And, finally, from the same email, these are links to the spreadsheets with full casts for both weeks -- as always, subject to change -- and Principal casting matches what I captured from the website last week.


Week 1:

Rep 5 performance casting week 1.pdf


Week 2:

Rep 5 performance casting week 2.pdf


According to the extended casting, there is a surprise in one of the "Gangster" casts :)

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The casts of "Slaughter on Tenth Avenue" and "West Side Story Suite" last night were dominated by sensational debuts, but I'll start with the beautiful dancing of Sarah Ricard Orza and Seth Orza in Christopher Wheeldon's remarkable distillation "Carousel (A Dance)".  Neither Orza was new to his or her role, but this is the first time they've danced it together, and they are one of those rare married dancing couples who are moving and magic together.  (PNB is lucky to have more than one.)


It is amazing that this was her debut, because Lindsi Dec was made for Showgirl:  those long, amazing legs and the way she uses them, a visible delight in being bad :devil:, and a stage presence -- a character presence -- that gave notice to her Hoofer:  Go Big or Go Home.  And boy, is that ever what Steven Loch did:  if there was ever a Hoofer for whom the slug from the liquor bottle before the central pas was ceremonial rather than fortifying, it is he.  With a dose of Rat Pack swagger, every last stage moment was brilliantly accounted for and seamlessly portrayed, and he and Dec smoldered.  It took me all intermission to stop squeeing.  Peter Boal needs to destroy the evidence, or one of those ballet-turned-Broadway choreographers that are so hot right now is going to steal him.  And her.


In "West Side Story Suite," Noelani Pantastico dominated the stage, and she did it not only in the "America" scene, but in the big group numbers.  She was on fire, as strong and distinctive as any dancer I've ever seen on Broadway: she owned those scenes.  And she had formidable competition for the eye's attention, with James Moore spectacular as Riff in his debut -- the knife fight between him and Batkhurel Bold's Bernardo was throat-grabbing -- and an uncredited Elle Macy as his partner, but there was an added element:  Bold, reprising his role, lit up like the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree when he was dancing with Pantastico.  After many Princes over the years, he's the go-to guy for the glowering Tybalts, and Bernardo is no exception.  But in "Dance at the Gym," for a few short moments, Bernardo wasn't the gang leader swaggering and protecting his turf or showing off his property: Anita was the love of his life, and in that brief glimpse, he was a teenager at high school dance, with a future ahead of him.


Benjamin Griffiths debuted as Tony, and his was a multi-layered performance.  A veteran of many Benvolios, he was as at home being a member of the gang as he was as the ecstatic, in-love Tony, the sudden avenger of Riff, and the heartbroken killer.  Nicole Rizzitano performed her first Rosalia and was charmingly optimistic and impervious to insult, and she has a lovely voice.


Sarah-Gabrielle Ryan danced her first Maria.  She was lovely, but the challenge is to be sweet without getting on everyone's nerves.  Even in the movie and play versions I've seen, she has no moxie until the very end.  In the "Boy Like That" scene (not in WSSS), where a girl with a thumbnail of temperament after hearing Anita exclaim "A boy who kills, cannot love" would have slapped her in the head and yelled, "Listen to yourself:  you're describing my brother!," but instead she sings the insipidly apologetic and cringeworthy "I Have a Love."  She only snaps out of it after Tony's death, when she picks up a gun and scares the life out of everyone.  But Maria doesn't even get that in "West Side Story Suite":  it ends with prolonged and saccharine dream scene in which every agrees to just get along.  As if.


That's not my only beef with "West Side Story Suite:"  All season long, in Q&A after Q&A, the dancers have been talking about the singing and the auditions.  Noelani Pantastico, in last night's Q&A, said that she started to work on it last August.  While it's interesting to see what the dancers we've known for so long will do when challenged that way, I just don't see how it is worth so much energy, focus, and anxiety for the soloists.  It would have been just as striking leaving the singing for the "Somewhere Ballet" at the end (if it must be there).  Dancers have enough to worry about, and Eric Neuville, singing "Something's Coming" from the pit, sounded gorgeous, leaving Griffiths to his dancing and portrayal.  In my opinion, there are enough dance challenges out there to be stressed over.

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Thank you Helene for all your well-written comments!  I am missing this weekend so it's great to hear a report.  


I am especially looking forward to the first four dancers you mentioned.  I didn't recall the Orzas dancing in Carousel together, thanks for confirming.


I haven't seen any footage of Lindsi Dec as Striptease Girl but judging by her performance in the Red Dress in Take Five More or Less, I know she'll be oozing with a special charm, so to speak.


I've watched the video of Steven Loch hoofing in PNB's FB a bunch of times.  I can't wait for Thursday I'm sure he'll pull out all the stops.  In some ways he reminds me of Jeff Stanton even before he got this Hoofer role, in terms of height, coloring, and ability to partner many ballerinas, but he is definitely a different spirit.


Also on FB the video of Noe in WSSS is amazing, I can't wait to see her in stage also.  Her singing is great, but what I really loved were her funny facial expressions!  She continues to amaze me with the breadth of her talents!


I don't have any recollections of Bold as Bernardo, but looking forward to seeing and savoring him in this role, as the clock is sadly ticking.


Regarding the singing in WSSS, I totally agree with you.

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In "Carousel (A Dance)" I saw Sarah Orza with Jerome Tisserand and Seth Orza with Carla Korbes in September 2011; Orza and Tisserand reprised it for Encores the following June.  I saw Tisserand with Rachel Foster and James Moore with Jodie Thomas in March 2008.  


ETA:  Pantastico's interactions with Rosalia were priceless.

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On 4/14/2017 at 10:42 AM, Helene said:


According to the extended casting, there is a surprise in one of the "Gangster" casts :)


Jordan Pacitti, in a very snappy suit, was the Gangster Saturday night -- it was a pleasure to see him again.

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There were two major debuts on Friday evening in "Slaughter on Tenth Avenue" with a repeat performance this afternoon:  Leah Merchant was Showgirl and Miles Pertl was Hoofer.  They were the embodiment of Fred and Ginger:  beautiful lines, expansive, lithe, nuanced, with quiet sensuality in the more intimate moments.   The "Swan Lake" references were especially clear with these two, between the shimmies.  Doug Fullington told us last week in his pre-performance presentation that Pertl's background was in Irish tap, which worked beautifully for Hoofer.  Two words for him:  in compas.


Kyle Davis and Ryan Cardea were pitch perfect as Morrisine and the Gangster, and Steven Loch and Dylan Ward were a delight at the two bartenders.


In "West Side Story Suite," Price Suddarth debuted as Tony this afternoon.  He's spoken about how he came to ballet from musical theater, and that background showed from his characterization.  Amanda Morgan debuted earlier second weekend as Rosalia, and she was terrific in "America," showing temperament and push-back, an individual performance.  


Rachel Foster was lovely in "Carousel," especially in showing the ambivalence of her character.  I'm going to be a broken record:  Tudor-Tudor-Tudor-Tudor.   Especially Caroline in "Jardin."


Noelani Pantastico's awesome Anita was a wonderful way to end the run.


On Friday, Seth Orza and Karel Cruz gave us another blood-curdling fight scene.    Jerome Tisserand as Tony spun "Something's Coming" with a fine throughline that was a story in itself, and the arc of his characterization was especially strong.  

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3 hours ago, Helene said:

Rachel Foster was lovely in "Carousel," especially in showing the ambivalence of her character.  I'm going to be a broken record:  Tudor-Tudor-Tudor-Tudor.   Especially Caroline in "Jardin."


Tudor, Tudor, Tudor -- yes, yes, yes.

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Sorry for the length...


Like so many other companies, Pacific Northwest Ballet uses thematic programming most of the year.  Some of them have been kind of a stretch (“Tricolore” for a Millepied and Balanchine program, where one of the Millepied is a work he made at NYCB and the Balanchine being “Symphony in C”) and some of them frankly a ruse (“Director’s Choice” – aren’t all the programs chosen by the director?), but sometimes the program is exactly what the label says.  PNB’s current program is “Ballet on Broadway,” and that’s what it delivers – three works that are derived from or influenced by American musical theater.


I used to think that we would leave the ‘suite of dances from’ behind as we got further away from the American songbook period of musical theater, but that doesn’t seem to be the case.  Each of the works on this program has a different relationship with its source material, but they all seem to imply that their musical theater pedigree will make them easy for the audience to comprehend.  And, unlike the ballet world in the 1930s, where the Russian impresario in the trailer from “On Your Toes” decries the existence of the “jazz ballet,” current audiences seem to be in love with hybrid works, as if ballet all by itself was too esoteric or too austere to be appreciated by the standard audience.


Christopher Wheeldon’s suite of dances to a pastiche score from Carousel is related to the original musical, but certainly doesn’t tell that story in any kind of detail.  We have a man who seems like an outsider, a woman who isn’t sure about her feelings for him, and their community.  The most direct relationship to its source is a staging trick toward the end of the work, where the ensemble creates a kind of human carousel – if you’ve seen the ballet you’re impressed with the ingenuity, but it’s more of a nod to the context than an actual plot twist. There are clues in the duet itself if you’re looking for more specifics.  The man continually approaches his partner from behind, takes her by the waist and moves her somewhere else – she doesn’t flinch really, or telegraph a sense of frustration, but there aren’t anywhere near as many moments where the two of them approach each other face to face with gladness.  Instead, we see her slip away from him several times -  you could read this as coy, or as flirtation, but it could just as easily be diversion.


I didn’t see opening night, so I missed Rachel Foster and James Moore in the lead parts of this – I’m told through the grapevine that they did an excellent job. Of the casts I saw Saturday, I thought the Orzas were better suited to the characters – Seth O can do menacing really well without needing much overt action.  I like Tisserand very much, but his standard classical response popped up in a couple of places during this work, which interfered with the character.  The ensembles were strong in both performances, especially the demi couples, but this is mostly a duet with support from the group.


Slaughter on Tenth Avenue is a play within a play, but the initial setup (a conversation in front of the curtain) is fairly short, and though it’s full of fun dance conventions, it doesn’t really give enough context for us to remember that we’re seeing a “show” when the curtain goes up.  It’s like a parenthetical comment that goes on for so long that when we see the closing parenthesis, we’ve forgotten where the first one started.  But even with this glitch, the narrative of the interior is clear enough that we don’t have any trouble following the characters and their stories.  Doug Fullington compared it to a vaudeville review in his pre-show lecture, and it’s a characterization that fits.  The cast is full of exaggerated caricatures – the thugs and the girls are types, the matched pair of bartenders have a mirror double act, the Big Boss (danced by Joshua Grant) is literally bigger than everyone else.  When a doofy trio of cops come to search the bar, the score includes variations on “Three Blind Mice.”


This is a Balanchine work, and we expect to see something of his aesthetic reflected in the work.  But while there are a few moments that seem to draw from his toolkit, and a few outright borrowings from other ballets, this is more of a romp than a piece of complex choreography.  The showgirl, a role meant for Suzanne Farrell, is all tossing hair and high kicks – our hero, the Hoofer, works best when it’s danced by a virtuoso tapper.  It’s possible for the man to smile and slide through the part, but there isn’t much else there to rely on.  One satisfying exception to this is the solo performed by Morrisine, the star of the Russian ballet – at the top of the show, after he pays a gangster to kill our hero, he gives a brief demonstration of echt Russian dancing, ca 1936.  I imagine that it must have given Balanchine a certain amount of satisfaction to make a short satire of Leonid Massine, who so many people characterized as his rival at the time.


Both Kyle Davis and Jonathan Porretta were dead on as Morrisine, but while Davis relied on his technical purity to make the comedy clear, Porretta had a much more developed sense of satire – his timing was excellent.  Grant glowered very effectively as the Big Boss, and both Ryan Cardea and Jordan Pacitti were excellent hit men.  Both pairs of bartenders (Steven Loch and Dylan Walk, Christian Poppe and Price Suddarth) were charming evocations of the period (the parts remind me of “Hello, Dolly”) but didn’t quite erase the performances that Kiyon Gaines and Josh Spell gave when the company first started performing the work in 2008.


Lindsi Dec and Steven Loch made excellent debuts in the lead roles.  Dec has been deepening her stage persona recently, and is finding some wonderful things in roles like the soloist in Rubies, but she started out life as a cheerleader, and when she needs those qualities, they are still close at hand.  She bubbled as the Stripper, and Loch took it over the top.  His Hoofer was full of zest – he has the tap skills to really modulate his phrases, and he used that to great effect, especially in the “dancing for your life” section towards the end of the work. 


By the time Jerome Robbins made West Side Story Suite, the work had already been a theatrical musical and a film, both with choreography by Jerome Robbins, as well as a part of Robbin’s self-titled Broadway anthology, so the artist was very accustomed to tailoring his work to a variety of programs.  Which makes some of the choices in WSSS even more confusing than they would have been if he were making the first adaptation.  Since he can’t use the text of the play to set up the different numbers and introduce individual characters, he created an abstracted sequence to stiych the various dances together – a kind of “hands up, don’t shoot” moment.  It works as a bookend, in that it’s very clearly not a part of the rest of the show, but it feels rather contrived.


I didn’t see Jerome Robbin’s Broadway, and I have a feeling that the version of West Side Story that he included there would help explain some of the choices he made with this version for a ballet company.  It’s never been clear to me why some of the numbers are sung by professionals in the pit, and some by the dancers on stage.  It makes for some uneven vocals – if I had a vote I would have chosen all one or all the other, but the combination doesn’t work for me.  The final section is another weak point.  By now, everyone in the audience is familiar with some production of the work – we know that it ends with almost all the main characters dead, but Robbins has chosen to finish this version with a folk dance in an unidentified field, followed by an earnest group of dancers singing along with the pit singers in “Someday.”  The choreography, which feels like variations on deMille’s work for Oklahoma, doesn’t really relate to the rest of the work, and the location is far from the urban streetscape where West Side Story is set.

Edited by sandik
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Forgot to include the details from the Q/A:


4/15 matinee guest was Maggie Mullin.  She sang Rosalita in West Side Story Suite, while she is still recovering from hip surgery (repairs to her labrum 10 weeks ago).  Although she's not performing, she's working on a ballet for Next Step, and on a film project about Ian Horvath, and apparently will be part of a livestream event on April 27 about editing (I don't have any more details than that -- will see what I can find out).  She had one of Horvath's works restaged on Ezra Thompson and Ben Griffiths for the film, and they may be performing it in the Men in Dance festival in Seattle next autumn.


According to Peter Boal, Andrew Bartee has left Ballet BC, and come back to Seattle looking for freelance opportunities.


Apparently company class is an option under their AGMA contract -- almost everyone takes it, but it's not required.


When I asked what choreographers Boal is interested in right now, he mentioned a couple of people from Hubbard Street (without giving names) and Alexander Eckman.


4/15 evening guest was Noelani Pantastico.  She danced Anita in West Side Story Suite.  She was a bit frazzled -- apparently she'd made a small error in her performance (I didn't notice a thing) and it was really bothering her.  Boal mentioned that she likes to do a lot of research when she's learning a new role -- she went back to look at several other performances of the part, especially the earlier Broadway casts.

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A couple brief notes from the second Saturday show:


Ezra Thomson's debut as Riff was fantastic!  In "Cool" his singing was very clear, confident, and I could hear every word.  Sometimes, the singing can be somewhat breath-y, understandably since the performer was/is dancing as well.  He said his only singing experience is in the shower.


In the post -performance Q&A, Peter Boal asked if we knew there was a problem with the audience that night.  Noone knew what he was talking about.  Apparently, even though there is a "Please Do Not Sit Here" type sign on the box door, someone decided to sit in the first tier box where Jordan Pacitti sits as the Gangster in Slaughter on Tenth Avenue.  A PD student took note and called the stage manager, who then had the house manager remove the "patrons".  They had even removed the temporary table where Jordan places the gun and put it under the seat, so Jordan had to put it back.  Then Peter said he hoped those people weren't in the room for the Q&A, but it would be better if they were IMO, because shame on them!  How rude!


Toward the end Peter brought up Carrie and Bold's last season coming to an end.  He said Carrie was not in the Broadway rep and that she is already preparing for the next rep.  He then asked Ezra and Ben Grifftiths how the mood is with Bold backstage these days.  Ezra said he is usually all about work, but now he is almost "giddy".  I wouldn't normally think of that word to describe Bold (not that I know him or anything about his personality) but there is a recent PNB FB post showing Bold backstage showing off his unique handshakes with many dancers that is really fun, so now I can see it.  That is a special video to watch, since we normally wouldn't see that type of dancer to dancer interaction.

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On ‎4‎/‎27‎/‎2017 at 7:47 AM, Helene said:

Were those patrons mistakenly assigned those seats or got the box wrong, but didn't think they should call an usher, or did they take it upon themselves to get better seats?


Sorry for the late reply, I was out of commission this week.


Peter didn't say specifically, but it sounded like they took it upon themselves to sit in the "gangster box" even though there was a sign on the box door not to.  After Peter told what happened he looked out at us and said "Please behave!", which I feel is funny because the people who attend the after-talks are usually very supportive and respective of PNB.  So maybe that's whey he then said he hoped they weren't there (at the after-talk).  I assume the house manager reseated them, I didn't mean to infer they were kicked out of the opera house.

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