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Rep 1, Petite Mort, Is Only a Month Away! (Sep 22-23, Sept 28-30 & Oct 1)

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From the press release:

Curtains Up! Pacific Northwest Ballet launches its 2023-24 Season with a triple-bill featuring foils, face powder, and fake full-frontal.

Seven Performances Only: September 22 – October 1, 2023

September 22 at 7:30 PM

September 23 at 2:00 and 7:30 PM

September 28 – 30 at 7:30 PM

October 1 at 1:00 PM

Marion Oliver McCaw Hall

321 Mercer Street at Seattle Center

Seattle, Washington 98109

Streaming Digitally October 5 – 9 

SEATTLE, WA – Pacific Northwest Ballet leaps into its 2023-24 Season with a liberal dash of comedy sprinkled over a mixed-plate triple-bill of crowd-pleasing dance works. Jiří Kylián's Petite Mort was created to celebrate the drama of Mozart, and features fencing foils and exaggerated black baroque dress forms as dance partners. Its companion piece, Sechs Tänze (Six Dances) highlights Mozart’s humor in the face of difficult circumstances. Rounding out the prickly program is Cacti, Alexander Ekman’s gleeful parody of contemporary dance’s greater excesses, as affectionate as it is pointed. PETITE MORT plays seven performances only, September 22 through October 1 at Seattle Center’s Marion Oliver McCaw Hall. Tickets start at just $38. The program will also stream digitally October 5 - 9. Tickets for the digital access are available through $300 season subscription. 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.

The PETITE MORT program line-up includes (follow select hyperlinks for complete program notes):

Petite Mort

Music: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Choreography: Jiří Kylián

Staging: Roslyn Anderson, Stefan Zeromski (2023)

Scenic Design: Jiří Kylián

Costume Design: Joke Visser

Lighting Design: Joop Caboort

Lighting Supervision: Kees Tjebbes

Running Time: 17 minutes

Premiere: August 23, 1991, Nederlands Dans Theater

PNB Premiere: November 5, 2009

The 2009 PNB premiere of Petite Mort was generously underwritten by Jeffrey & Susan Brotman and Peter & Peggy Horvitz. 

Jiří Kylián choreographed Petite Mort for the Salzburg Festival in commemoration of the second centenary of Mozart’s death. He chose as his music the slow movements of two of Mozart’s most beautiful and popular piano concertos. The choreography includes twelve dancers and six fencing foils. The foils serve as dancing partners and sometimes turn out to be more stubborn and willful than a human partner. Kylián also plays with black baroque dresses, which at times appear to exist separately from the dancers and at others to be molded to their bodies. Petite Mort was the first work by Kylián to be acquired by Pacific Northwest Ballet.

Musical Interlude featuring The Mighty PNB Orchestra

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (Divertimento in D, No. 1 Allegro, K.136/125a, Mvt. 1)

Sechs Tänze (Six Dances)

Music: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Choreography: Jiří Kylián

Staging: Roslyn Anderson, Stefan Zeromski (2023)

Scenic & Costume Design: Jiří Kylián

Lighting Design: Joop Caboort

Lighting Supervision: Kees Tjebbes

Running Time: 13 minutes

Premiere: August 24, 1986, Nederlands Dans Theater

PNB Premiere: September 24, 2010

The 2010 PNB premiere of Jiří Kylián’s Sechs Tänze (Six Dances) was generously underwritten by Jeffrey & Susan Brotman.

Choreographer Jiří Kylián has written: “Two centuries separate us from the time Mozart wrote his German Dances—an historical period shaped considerably by wars, revolutions, and all sorts of upheavals. With this in mind, I found it impossible to simply create different dance numbers reflecting merely the humor and musical brilliance of the composer. Although the entertaining quality of Sechs Tänze enjoys great general popularity, it shouldn’t only be regarded as a burlesque. Its humor ought to serve as a vehicle to point towards our relative values. Mozart’s ability to react upon difficult circumstances with a self-preserving outburst of nonsensical poetry is well known.” 


Music: Franz Joseph Haydn, Ludwig van Beethoven, Franz Schubert

Text: Spenser Theberge

Choreography: Alexander Ekman

Staging: Ana Maria Lucaciu

Scenic and Costume Design: Alexander Ekman

Lighting Design: Tom Visser

Running Time: 27 minutes

Premiere: February 25, 2010; Nederlands Dans Theater 2 (The Hague, The Netherlands)

Pacific Northwest Ballet Premiere: November 2, 2018

The 2018 Pacific Northwest Ballet premiere of Alexander Ekman’s Cacti is generously underwritten by Susan Brotman. 

A gleeful and knowing parody of contemporary dance’s greater excesses, Alexander Ekman’s Cacti is an affectionate, pointed, and often hilarious deconstruction of the affectations of dance. While a string quartet plays and spoken recordings give tongue-in-cheek narration, 16 dancers run, fall, writhe, and try to escape their invisible prisons; eventually—and this is the important bit—they each acquire a cactus. But what does it all mean? Ekman has written: “This work is about how we observe art and how we often feel the need to analyze and ‘understand’ it. I believe that there is no right way and that everyone can interpret and experience art the way they want. Perhaps it’s just a feeling that you can’t explain or perhaps it’s very obvious what the message is.” 



Thursday, June 1, 5:30 pm

Nesholm Family Lecture Hall at McCaw Hall

Join PNB Artistic Director Peter Boal, in conversation with Cacti stager Ana Maria Lucaciu. PNB Conversations offer in-depth interviews with artists involved in putting our repertory on stage. Attend the Conversations event only or stay for the dress rehearsal of PETITE MORT. Tickets (suggested donation of $25) are available through the PNB Box Office.


Nesholm Family Lecture Hall at McCaw Hall

Join dance historian 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.

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1 minute ago, Helene said:

PNB has done the pairing before, and it's a great juxtaposition.

Yes. I saw the pairing in Seattle in 2010. Overlapping motifs (especially those black dresses).  Wish I could see them in person this year, but my schedule does not permit...

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Unlike almost every dancer I've heard speak about it -- they love Petite Mort, and even before it came into the company's rep, Lindsi Dec and Karel Cruz raved about it from a video they saw and it was on their dream list -- it's not among my favorites or even favorite Kylian works, but one thing I really appreciate about it is the chance to see partnerships that don't happen in more hierarchical works and height-based partnerships in roles that require lots of overhead lifts.

Everyone in this afternoon's performances of all three works was stellar.  While not all were strictly ensemble works, a large part of the company danced, and there was a unity in each work and across all three pieces. 

Another thing I love in general is when a younger member of the company shines especially bright when everyone around them is at the top of their game, and, for me, this afternoon, that was Noah Marzall in Petite Mort.  I couldn't stop watching him in the opening men's dance, and if I weren't terrified of heights, I would have leaned over the side of the box when he was briefly in a corner I couldn't see from my seat.  Watching Elle Macy and Miles Pertl dance together makes me hope that if we ever see Pictures at an Exhibition again, that they get to do the central pas de deux.

The women are front and center in the pas de deux, and all six -- Sarah-Gabrielle Ryan, Leta Biasucci, Lily Wills, Yuki Takahashi, Elle Macy, and Leah Terada -- danced with striking dynamism,and astonishing articulation, which doesn't always happen together; many bravas to them.

I've long preferred Sechs Tanze: it's as if Kylian was injected with a dose of Mark Morris ala the boys' dance in L'Allegro: while the undertones of what looked like a last gasp social farce were never absent, the comedy was done straight, if zannily, and that makes it impactful.  The cast of fourteen hit it out of the park.

I'm so glad Cacti came back, because it's so goofy and self-deprecating, and the music is a real treat.  (Doug Fullington conducted it; Emil de Cou conducted for the two Kylian works.)  The dancers were all over it!

I want to see it again next weekend with more dancers, and I'll make plans when the casting is up for second weekend.


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For those who have digital season subscriptions (and in-person subscribers who chose the digital add-on), you should have received your link yesterday.  The digital performance is viewable until Monday, October 9 at 11:59pm PDT.

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I loved getting a chance to view the digital stream. Sarah-Gabrielle Ryan really took the stage by storm! And all dancers were superb with the lightning-quick footwork of Sechs Tanze (wish they'd perform this one more often!) However, I was again disappointed in James Kirby Rogers' musicality. He was consistently behind the group in Petite Mort. There was another piece this last year--maybe Cerrudo's Black on Black on Black?--where I also noticed he was not in sync with the rest of the stage. He has lovely lines and seems to be a supportive partner...I enjoyed his pas with Cecilia much more than the saber section.

Other, random note: how is Clara Ruf-Maldonado not a soloist yet?   

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On 10/27/2023 at 4:15 PM, tutu said:

Can’t imagine she’ll be a corps member for much longer!

Well, that was a more prescient statement than I ever could have imagined — what a well-deserved promotion!

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