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Carmina Burana /Agon Sept 27-28, Oct 3-6)

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From the press release:

PACIFIC NORTHWEST BALLET LAUNCHES 47th SEASON!

CARMINA BURANA/AGON September 27 – October 6, 2019

Marion Oliver McCaw Hall

321 Mercer Street, Seattle Center

Seattle, WA 98109

Seven Performances Only!

September 27 at 7:30 PM

September 28 at 2:00 and 7:30 PM

October 3, 4 & 5 at 7:30 PM

October 6 at 1:00 PM

 SEATTLE, WA – Pacific Northwest Ballet celebrates the opening of its 47th season with a powerhouse double-bill featuring iconic works by George Balanchine and PNB Founding Artistic Director Kent Stowell. The pinnacle of his legendary collaboration with Igor Stravinsky, Agon is, in Balanchine’s own words, “the quintessential contemporary ballet.” Declaring that “music like this has not been heard before,” Balanchine took up the challenge of Stravinsky’s fiendishly difficult score and choreographed a work that, matching the music in complexity and inventiveness, redefined ballet for our time. In Stowell's primal Carmina Burana, a grand-scale synthesis of dance, chorus, solo singers and orchestra, Carl Orff’s famous 1937 musical cantata about the fickleness of fortune, the joy of renewal, and the perils of sin come vividly to life in the shadow of designer Ming Cho Lee’s colossal 26-foot golden wheel. Carmina Burana/Agon runs for seven performances only, September 27 through October 6 at Seattle Center’s Marion Oliver McCaw Hall. Tickets start at $37, and go on sale Monday, July 22. (PNB subscribers’ pre-sale begins July 12.) For more information, contact the PNB Box Office at 206.441.2424, in person at 301 Mercer Street, or online at PNB.org.

Agon

Music: Igor Stravinsky
Choreography: George Balanchine © The George Balanchine Trust 
Staging: Francia Russell 
Lighting Design: Randall G. Chiarelli 
Running Time: 30 minutes

Premiere: December 1, 1957; New York City Ballet 
Pacific Northwest Ballet Premiere: March 30, 1993

 

Carmina Burana
Music: Carl Orff
Choreography: Kent Stowell
Scenic Design: Ming Cho Lee
Costume Design: Theoni V. Aldredge and Larae Theige Hascall
Lighting Design: Randall G. Chiarelli

Running Time: 70 minutes
Premiere: October 5, 1993; Pacific Northwest Ballet

 

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Interrupting the press release with the news that PNB -- with a shoutout to this program --  made the Telegraph (UK)'s list of the

Five of the best cultural experience to savour in Seattle

Quote

One of America’s premier regional dance companies, the esteemed Pacific Northwest Ballet Company will perform a dazzling performance of Carmina Burana and Agon at the McCaw Hall (27 September-6 October), a collaboration between George Balanchine and composer Igor Stravinsky. The epic show will see more than 100 dancers, musicians and singers perform under the 2,500lb Golden Wheel. Alternatively, you can catch Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker over the Christmas season (29 November-28 December).

 

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More from the press release:

SPECIAL EVENTS

PNB IMMERSION EXPERIENCE

PNB’s popular Audience Education programming presents a new way to enhance patrons’ performance experiences for the 2019-2020 season: the PNB Immersion Experience. Available for Reps 2 – 5, each program will include an Immersion Experience Studio Rehearsal – hour-long studio rehearsals hosted by Artistic Director Peter Boal, featuring Company dancers rehearsing excerpts from upcoming ballets (Tuesdays at 5:00 pm, dates tba) – as well as the opportunity to observe a rehearsal of the PNB Orchestra (Reps 2 and 4, dates tba), or an up-close Q&A with PNB artists and tour of the PNB Costume Shop (Reps 3 and 5, immediately following the Studio Rehearsal). Detailed information and tickets ($40 per rep) will be available through the PNB Box Office after July 22. (Immersion Experience tickets do not include a performance.)

 [-->Please note that Carmina Burana/Agon is Rep 1, and this is a heads up that the program will start with Rep 2.]

PNB CONVERSATIONS & DRESS REHEARSAL

Thursday, September 26, 5:30 pm

Nesholm Family Lecture Hall at McCaw Hall

PNB Conversations offers in-depth interviews with guest artists involved in putting our repertory on stage. Attend the Conversations event only or stay for the dress rehearsal of Carmina Burana/Agon. Tickets ($30) may be purchased through the PNB Box Office.

BALLET TALK

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.

MEET THE ARTIST

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 Friday, September 21.) 

YOUNG PATRONS CIRCLE NIGHT

Friday, October 4
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/YPC.

 

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I watched this rehearsal video last night. What a treat!  So well done like everything Lindsay Thomas does (I assume it is her video). Focusing was a problem, but that is to be expected in an ad hoc situation like this. Thanks PNB for getting me "in the studio".

BTW, does anyone know which part Francia did in the original cast?

Edited by SandyMcKean

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4 hours ago, SandyMcKean said:

I watched this rehearsal video last night. What a treat!  So well done like everything Lindsay Thomas does (I assume it is her video). Focusing was a problem, but that is to be expected in an ad hoc situation like this. Thanks PNB for getting me "in the studio".

BTW, does anyone know which part Francia did in the original cast?

I enjoy watching these rehearsal videos, since there's so much to learn and think about from the various comments.

Russell wasn't part of the original 1st cast that I know of, but she may have been "shadowing" as a 2nd cast member (or injured during the rehearsals?).

Original cast as credited by NYCB:

    Todd Bolender
    Barbara Milberg
    Barbara Walczak
    Roy Tobias
    Jonathan Watts
    Melissa Hayden
    Diana Adams
    Arthur Mitchell

EDIT: Oops, I was forgetting that there are 12 dancers total that appear in this ballet, so there are/were 4 minor roles as well.

Edited by pherank

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10 hours ago, SandyMcKean said:

BTW, does anyone know which part Francia did in the original cast?

excerpt from Leigh Witchel's post Nov 15, 2007:  https://balletalert.invisionzone.com/topic/26005-the-new-york-city-ballet-during-the-1950s/

"One of Sobotka's claims to fame was that she was in the original cast of "Agon."

I'd try contacting Francia Russell, who was also one of the four corps women in the ballet. Russell has a very strong recollection of detail. I'd make an interview request through Pacific Northwest Ballet."

So it seems she was one of the 4 roles for which pherank did not have names.

Tonight Francia Russell was the featured artist at the dress rehearsal lecture.  I had to work late due so I could not attend.  If anybody did, please share your notes!  Thank you!

Also second weekend casting is up:  https://www.pnb.org/season/carmina-burana-agon/#casting.  Cecilia Ilesiu, Angelica Generosa, and Sarah Ricard Orza debut in Agon.  All are SAB trained, I'm sure they will all be gorgeous.  The only debut in Carmina Burana is Steven Loch in In Taberna; he'll be a fun one in that role.

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If I am remembering correctly, Balanchine choreographed one of the first pas de trois women on Russell, but she danced one of the four women who rounded out the ensemble.

Here's the downloadable spreadsheet that includes week two casting:

Agon_Carmina 19_09_25.xlsx

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I'm getting more and more excited for the show with all of this excellent video footage PNB is producing! After living overseas for a year and a half, it's a treat to be in town for these two powerhouse pieces. Does anyone remember the last time that Agon was programmed?

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30 minutes ago, pirouetta27 said:

Does anyone remember the last time that Agon was programmed?

Here is a YouTube video of Russell rehearsing Agon 6 years ago.  Nice to see former dancers Brittany Reid, Kylee Kitchens, and Chelsea Adomaitis!

 

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After attending the Saturday night performance, I have to say that I've never realized before how FUN Agon can be! The dancers have taken Russell's notes to heart; there were plenty of moments I could hear her corrections (from the livestream rehearsal) in my head, and see how the dancers had adjusted accordingly. Lucien's coupés in his solo were clear; the partnered arabesque promenades at the end revolved smoothly; Mullin's traveling echappes glided in perfect unison with Macy's. I especially enjoyed the gailliard with these two women. Sometimes with the Balanchine black and white ballets I get the sense that the driving emotion is "look how spiky we can be! Look how fierce and neoclassical!" Elements of that were there, but more than anything, I felt that Macy and Mullin were playing a wonderful game onstage, feeding off each other's energy and daring. Oh, and the pas de trois--such excellent chemistry between the two of them and Lucien, and what a glorious tendu ending! In the other sections, Pantastico brought a coy charm to her bransle solo, and Laura Tisserand was both cool and eminently personable as she and Josh Grant wrapped themselves in knots during the pas de deux. I could watch that pas over and over again. With Grant, I still don't think I really have a sense of who he is as a performer, but there was nothing dislikable in his presence or partnering. I mean, I do wish that Laura had reached the floor in the split-walk section, but with those legs I don't think there's time in the music for it! The whole cast kept up such crisp unity from start to finish that it really seemed like they were all pieces in an elaborate game of chess (a very fast game of chess, so there are holes in the metaphor, but you get the idea). There's no hiding in these leotard ballets--and this cast had nothing to hide, just wonderful musicality, teamwork, and sky-high extensions to show.

 

I was a bit nervous to see Carmina, just because I'd adored it in the past and didn't know how I'd receive Stowell's choreography from an adult perspective. Happily, I found that his patterns, partnering steps, and conceptual flow held up to the power of the music, especially with the beginning Fortuna Plango Vulnera section where the men spring to life from the floor. Chills. Because this piece has such a large cast and often necessitates casting Professional Division students, there were a few moments throughout where one couple would be lagging in partnering, but it didn't detract from the spectacle or youthful exuberance. It's a great learning opportunity for all of them, and I must say that Mark Cuddihee (apprentice) and Noah Martzall (PD) really caught my eye in their commitment to the work, along with Abby Jayne DeAngelo (her face during the kneeling lines at the end captured the whole arc of the ballet). Another young one to watch is Sarah Gabrielle Ryan. She and Steven Loch in Primo Vere had chemistry out the wazoo as they progressed from teasing village couple to the more mature sections in unitards. I also greatly enjoyed Elle Macy as the siren female in In Taberna; she brought a sense of decisiveness and hedonistic abandon to every developpe, and it was interesting to watch her/Lin-Yee shift the power dynamics back and forth in the group. Something in her interpretation seemed fresher than those I've seen in the past: with other females it's felt more like an inevitability that the tavern would orbit around her, but with Macy it was a wicked party that just barely stayed in her control. 

 

Of course, Liz Murphy and Lucien were full of melting arabesques and silky solos in Cour D'Amour, and you could feel the audience stunned into silence during Dulcissima as the purity of Murphy's steps matched the soprano's impossibly high notes. What a treat! But on a sour note, in many of the other sections, someone kept bumping into a microphone, which inserted a horrible "ka THUNK" into the rest of the singing. And it. Kept. Happening. Seriously, I don't know if it was onstage or off, but its recurrence was both irritating and baffling. I heard one of the other audience members mentioning it as we filed out...hopefully the problem is fixed for future performances.

 

I could go on and on but the last thing I'll mention is just how much I love the Carmina costumes...sure, the nude unitards provide minimal costuming, but the flecks of reflective material and waving pieces of fabric highlight the dancers' lines so nicely. And Murphy's buttercup-colored dressed for Cour is regal in its simplicity. It's so nice that, although PNB presses ahead with new and exciting works, Boal also takes time to revisit classics from the company's heritage: the architecture from Balanchine and gesamtkunstwerk revelry from founding director Stowell.

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Oh, and I one more note: I was surprised to see that Emma Love Suddarth hasn't been cast in anything beyond general ensemble dancing for either weekend (but please correct me if I'm wrong; I was reading the casting on a smartphone screen so it's possible that I missed something). Her dancing is always very strong and I'd love to see more of her.

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