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All Tharp: June 3-4 and 9-12

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From PNB:




Brief Fling – Sweet Fields – Waiting at the Station

 Seven Performances: June 3 – 12, 2022

June 3 at 7:30 PM

June 4 at 2:00 and 7:30 PM

June 9, 10 and 11 at 7:30 PM

June 12 at 1:00 PM

Marion Oliver McCaw Hall

321 Mercer Street at Seattle Center

Seattle, WA 98109

SEATTLE, WA – Pacific Northwest Ballet’s final program of its 2021-22 season is all about the legendary dancer, director, and choreographer Twyla Tharp. From the sweet echo of her own Quaker roots in Sweet Fields, to the haunting Scottish clan in Brief Fling, to the all-out joy of New Orleans that runs through Waiting at the Station, Tharp draws inspiration from around the globe and yet her style remains quintessentially her own. ALL THARP runs for seven performances, June 3 through 12 at Seattle Center’s Marion Oliver McCaw Hall. Tickets start at just $37. (For information on discounted ticket options including Pay-What-You-Can and rush tickets, visit PNB.org/offers.) For tickets and additional information, contact the PNB Box Office at 206.441.2424, in person at 301 Mercer Street, or online 24/7 at PNB.org. [Please note: ALL THARP will not be offered in a digital streaming performance.]

The ALL THARP line-up includes:

Brief Fling

Music: Michel Colombier and Percy Grainger (Country Gardens, 1918; Handel in the Strand, 1912)

Choreography: Twyla Tharp

Staging: Charlie Hodges             

Original Costume Design: Isaac Mizrahi

Original Lighting Design: Jennifer Tipton

Running Time: 27 minutes

Premiere: February 28, 1990; American Ballet Theatre (San Francisco, CA)

PNB Premiere: September 27, 2013

 Special thanks to Peter & Peggy Horvitz for their sponsorship of new costumes for PNB’s 2022 performances of Brief Fling. Principal support for the 2013 PNB premiere of Brief Fling was provided by Lyndall Boal and Peter & Peggy Horvitz.

 Pacific Northwest Ballet’s 2016 performances of Twyla Tharp’s Brief Fling marked the first-ever performances of this ballet with live orchestra accompaniment. When the ballet premiered in 1990, it was performed to a then-state-of-the-art recording. It had been Tharp’s wish to have something that could be performed anywhere at any time, so that is how Brief Fling had been presented over 26 years. When she was in Seattle for PNB’s AIR TWYLA performances in 2013, Tharp and PNB Music Director/Principal Conductor Emil de Cou commiserated over the fact that the sound quality of the recording had degraded over time, and she expressed her desire to have it performed by the PNB Orchestra. Following an extensive search, de Cou tracked down Dana Colombier, the widow of composer Michel Colombier, who had stored her husband’s legacy in a series of boxes and envelopes, many of them unmarked. Miraculously, Ms. Colombier managed to locate the Brief Fling manuscript, beautifully hand-engraved on fragile onionskin paper, containing all of the original parts that had only been performed once for the recording back in 1989. PNB is honored to be the first and only company to perform Brief Fling with live music. (Visit PNB.org for additional Brief Fling program notes.)

Sweet Fields

Music: 18th- and 19th-century American hymns by William Billings, William Walker,

Abraham Wood, and Jeremiah Ingalls. Performed by The Tudor Choir, conducted by Doug Fullington.

Choreography: Twyla Tharp

Staging: Matt Rivera and Shelley Washington

Original Costume Design: Norma Kamali

Lighting Design: Jennifer Tipton

Running Time: 19 minutes

Premiere: September 20, 1996; Tharp! (Berkeley, CA)

PNB School Premiere: June 15, 2013

PNB Company Premiere: June 3, 2022 

The 2022 PNB company premiere of Twyla Tharp’s Sweet Fields is principally supported by Leslie Yamada and Deidra Wager 

Extensive program notes for Sweet Fields are available at PNB.org.

Waiting at the Station

Music: Allen Toussaint (“Let’s,” “Bright Mississippi,” “Dolores’ Boyfriend,” “Mother-in-Law,” “Don’t Go To Sleep,” “Fas-Fess,” “I Miss You Baby,” “The Mardi Gras Stomp,” “Waiting at the Station”)

Choreography: Twyla Tharp

Staging: Kiyon Ross

Scenic and Costume Design: Santo Loquasto

Lighting Design: James F. Ingalls

Running Time: 32 minutes

Premiere: September 27, 2013, Pacific Northwest Ballet

 The 2013 world premiere of Twyla Tharp’s Waiting at the Station was generously underwritten by Peter & Peggy Horvitz.

Waiting at the Station is a short narrative ballet set to a collection of compositions—both old and new—by R&B artist Allen Toussaint. Scenic and costume designs by Santo Loquasto set the scene in 1940’s New Orleans.

The story follows one man as he attempts to connect with his son and pass on his steps before he must surrender to the three gilded Fates that seek him out. The ensemble dances upstage for much of the work. They are a living frieze, providing background rhythm and dramatic tableau as two couples gambol, waltz, spar, and swing through a sampling of society’s many small conflicts. After the Father dances his goodbyes and recedes upstage with the three Fates, his Son leads the jazz funeral procession—a celebration of both life and death through music and dance. An epilogue follows, wherein the Father returns briefly to tidy a few loose ends and conduct the finale before boarding his last train. [Notes courtesy of Twyla Tharp Dance Foundation.]

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A notice just appeared on Facebook cancelling the Tharp programs June 3-4 due to COVID. So sad!

*Performances Cancelled*
Due to Covid-19 cases at PNB, we unfortunately must cancel tonight and tomorrow’s performances of ALL THARP (June 3 at 7:30, June 4 at 2:00 and June 4 at 7:30). Ticket buyers will recieve an email with information on your ticketing options – we hope you’re available to join us for a performance next week. While this cancellation stings, we remain committed to the safety of our performers and audience members above all.
May be an image of text that says 'ALL THARP PERFORMANCES CANCELLED JUNE3&4 3&4'
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Since I live a 3  hour drive north of Seattle, I was still driving when the 4:55pm announcement was made. Since I buy single tickets these days, PNB does maintain my email address anymore. With no email, I wouldn't have gotten the announcement regardless. So I arrive at  McCaw Hall at 6:00pm to get in line for my senior ticket (I had forgotten that senior tickets can be purchased via phone starting this season). Door was locked. Sign was up saying CANCELLED. I'm oh so sad. Nothing to do but turn around and drive the 3 hours back! 😂

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46 minutes ago, SandyMcKean said:

Since I live a 3  hour drive north of Seattle, I was still driving when the 4:55pm announcement was made. Since I buy single tickets these days, PNB does maintain my email address anymore. With no email, I wouldn't have gotten the announcement regardless. So I arrive at  McCaw Hall at 6:00pm to get in line for my senior ticket (I had forgotten that senior tickets can be purchased via phone starting this season). Door was locked. Sign was up saying CANCELLED. I'm oh so sad. Nothing to do but turn around and drive the 3 hours back! 😂

Oh Sandy, what a bummer for you!  Did you at least get some nice dinner or treat as a consolation?  I know I would have!!!

Opening night I was a few minutes away from leaving to have dinner with friends before the show and I don’t know why, I glanced at my phone.  I’m so glad I did I had a text from PNB that the show was cancelled and to check my email for further details.  The other ticket buyer in the group did not receive a text (she may not be a subscriber) so she didn’t know yet, but turns out she did have an email waiting for her.  We were able to still salvage dinner outside somewhere else but I feel bad for the lower QA restaurants to lose business.  

I have exchanged my tickets for the new opening night.  Fingers crossed for this weekend and the Encore show!!!



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A few comments, in no particular order.

I had a ticket for opening night, and got it transferred to Thursday night (the new opening) -- I have a feeling this kind of last minute adjustment is going to be a part of our lives for awhile longer.  Earlier in the spring Olivier Wevers company had a similar challenge, cancelling the first of a two weekend run, only in their case it was appendicitis rather than Covid -- we forget sometimes there are other difficulties out there!

The company looked very on top of their work, so we had a chance to think about the choreography and performance alongside the "oh my god we're in the theater" vibe that so many performances have right now.  This program really does show Tharp's responses to ballet-based dancers -- the structural game-playing is there, but the vocabulary is mostly classical, especially in "Brief Fling."  In the post-show discussion, Angelica Generosa, who danced the main pas de deux, said that the stager Charlie Neshyba-Hodges commented on the structure of the work -- he feels that Tharp may have been influenced by Balanchine's Theme and Variations, both in the challenge for the main couple, and in the way both works start with a simple tendu sequence that gets turned inside out and upside down throughout the ballet.   The cycling between three main groups is fast and complex, which is an interesting contrast to the sweetness in the score, which features big chunks of Percy Grainger's "Country Gardens," in a movie-like orchestration.  As that theme came back and back each time the blue couple found themselves on stage again, it was almost like a repeating joke, except the dancing kept charging along.  I'm very sorry to just see it once this time -- I have a feeling there's a lot more going on.

It's not fair to compare "Sweet Fields" to other works using shape-note music -- while Tharp does come from a Quaker background, and there are some references to Shaker dancing in the choreography, this is not an exploration of their ecstatic and austere world.  She made it for one of her own ensembles, and it is indeed a dance for a group, rather than the clear hierarchies of "Brief Fling" and the theatrical conventions of "Waiting at the Station."  I'm not sure who had the final say in casting, but it was almost exclusively corps members -- it gave them some wonderful opportunities.  The movement is more fleet than grounded, with some unusual torque in the upper body.  One of the biggest challenges is a long sequence for the men, with a group of them acting as pallbearers for a soloist who slithers down to the ground and is scooped back up again.  There is some acrobatic shifting that goes on which felt like it could use a little more rehearsal when I saw it on Thursday -- the audience responded to the tricky aspect of it in a way that undercut the more serious nature of the procession.

This is the third or fourth time the company has presented "Waiting at the Station" (the PNB website is between updates and isn't showing a performance history right now), and although there have been many new cast members inserted, it still fits the general profile of the company.  It's a romp, basically -- the main narrative, about a father trying to make a connection with his son before he dies, does get told, but it's wrapped and cushioned with all kinds of hijinks.  It is indeed a closer -- everyone looks good while having a good time.  One interesting factoid -- at the end of the ballet the two main women seem to be heading for a cat fight, but the father whispers in their ears and defuses the conflict.  People always want to know what he says to them -- I remember at one post-show Q/A someone (possibly James Moore or Kiyon Ross) said that he tells them "what they need to know," but this time around Generosa (who danced one of the women with Postelwaite) said that it was different every time, and that the father character made the decision.  And now we both know.

Honestly, if I were programming an all-Tharp show, I'd swap out In the Upper Room or Nine Sinatra Songs for Waiting at the Station, even considering that Waiting was made for PNB.  But I'm not the boss.


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Yes!  Boal mentioned this at the post-show on Thursday, and I forgot to include it here.  I'm very glad that she's relented -- the company has worked hard to create and maintain a screening program for their subscribers, and it felt awkward to finish the season with a missing link.

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If I were watching on VHS rather than streaming, I'd wear out the tape.  I think Tharp has done a masterful job of story-telling in just the right amount of time to really wonderful music, and the company performs "Waiting as the Station" so well. :flowers:

The Father was choreographed by Tharp on James Moore when it premiered in 2013, and it fits him like a glove as much today as nearly a decade ago.  Comparing today's cast lists, including for the NYC tour, to the premiere fortnight (part of the "Air Twyla" program from 2013), Moore and Sarah Pasch, one of the Golden Girls, are the two dancers reprising their roles.  Many of the dancers from 2013 are no longer at PNB, but of the ones who still are,nearly all have moved into new roles:  Ryan Cardea into one of the "X-over" demi-soloist couples, Elle Macy from Golden Girl to the Laura Tisserand Principal Couple role -- danced in the video by Angelica Generosa -- Ezra Thomson from Ensemble Couple to Father -- Generosa from "X-over Couple" to Principal couple, Elizabeth Murphy from Ensemble to Principal Couple, and Kyle Davis from Ensemble Couple to Son.  

Kuu Sakaguri was superb as the Son in the video.  I am so going to miss Joshua Grant: he danced as if his role had been made for him.  Madison Abeo, Christian Poppe, Ryan Cardea, and Sarah-Gabrielle Ryan knocked it out of the park as the X-over Couples, and, I would love to see them together in the two Principal Couple roles when this is revived.  I would also love to see Cardea as the Father and Poppe as the Son, after what I saw here.

NY audiences are going to be in for multiple treats.

Now, back to the video...


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I was so looking forward to buying the stream for this program (as I did for some other PNB streams the last two? years). Unfortunately it’s only for subscribers (I live in Greece).

I remember the stream of Waiting at the Station two years ago. Pure joy. James Moore again, Price Suddarth and especially Carrie Imler. I became obsessed with Imler and tried to find in the internet every tiny excerpt of her dancing. 

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Carrie Imler. I became obsessed with Imler and tried to find in the internet every tiny excerpt of her dancing. 

I understand! 😉. I have been an avid PNB audience member for almost 40 years (I normally saw 3 or 4 performances of every rep for most of that time). Thru all that time, Carrie was, and remains today, my most admired dancer. Beyond that, as I learned at dozens of Q&As with dancers, and a few one-on-one conversations with her, she is the most professional of dancers and a superb human being to boot. If I have a hero.....it is her.

Edited by SandyMcKean
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