Wednesday, April 21, 2010

All Balanchine = All Beautiful

All Balanchine
Pacific Northwest Ballet
April 15-25

"Balanchine was a choreographer of true practicality and spontaneity." said PNB Artistic Director Peter Boal - in the Director's notes for this Season's All Balanchine.

I can only imagine the difficulty Peter Boal experienced in picking 3 pieces from all of Balanchine's work. The 3 he chose - while I had my favorites, were all nothing short of gorgeous, well danced and breathtaking.

Serenade was a beautiful display of the Core ballet and was very pleasing to the eye. Gorgeous white tool dresses, clean classic buns, and long limbs, all very Balanchine. It was then I realized that Mr. Boal had a classic Balanchine company on his hands, and besides Balanchine's original company (NYC Ballet) PNB was marvelously representing the art and the history of such a ground breaking Choreographer.

Serenade reminded me of the joys of spring - with lovely lines - shimmering drops of humor fell like spring rain, a flexed foot here - an off center line there. Just enough to make you cock your head and smile at the lovely risk he (Balanchine) took. The principal dancers that night showed their love for the choreography, rather effortlessly. Its as if I almost saw them SIGH as they danced, happy to be doing a style they loved and literally breathing in and out their talent.

In Serenade 2 artist stuck out the most for me - Laura Gilbreath was astounding. Her extension, her lines and her weighlessness was mesmorizing. I felt like her dancing was light and fast and simply lovely. The other was Ariana Lallone. Going on 25 years with this company - Ariana showed the depth of her understanding and experience of Balanchine. She embodied what I believe he wanted to audience to see and she truly was gorgeous to watch. All of her steps exuded depth, maturity and experience. Both dancers were such a pleasure to watch specifically - and the entire company really did wonderfully as well.

Square Dance - the second piece, was my favorite of the 3. I love the speed and preciseness that Balanchine brought to this work. Rachel Foster and Bejamin Griffiths were the principals in this piece. Not only were they perfectly paired, but I felt they were made for the parts. Benjamin showed such an amazing joy and energy, it was radiated to all around him and to the entire McCaw audience. Rachel Foster was flawless. I have seen her perform several times and have had mixed feelings, but truly this was the best performance I have ever seen her in. She was light, precise, technically superior and amazingly swift in her most difficult role. Her gorgeous smile was testiment to her performance, she knew she ruled the night and she truly earned "Diva" status.

The Four Temperaments was the last piece and honestly I found it a bit slow in parts. Looking back the reason I think is because it followed such a high action and face paced ballet. I would have felt differently, had they been switched in the line up. Still there were beautiful parts. The 3 dancers that stood out for me were Jonathan Poretta, Olivier Wevers and Lindsi Dec. Jonathan shows such amazing power and lines, he often makes me gasp as I watch, just shocking thing things his body is able to do. His intensity during this show was a pleasure to see. Olivier is such a different type of dancer - so soft, wonderful fluidity and an amazing eye for his fellow dancers. He uses his talent to weave (no pun intended) a wonderful painting with the Core that surrounds him. I find myself smiling continuously while watching him dance.

Finally - Lindsi Dec is a true star this season. She has blossomed as an upcoming soloist and has dominated all of her lead roles this year. This piece was no different. Her determination to show perfect lines and effortless choreography is principal dancer material. She is quickly joining the ranks of her fellow dancers, Korbes and Nakamura in becoming a spotlight female in the company.

I have been so impressed with the selection of pieces Peter Boal has chosen for this season - and this truly was a lovely, enchanting and breathtaking way to begin the Spring and almost end the dance season. I am literally giddy with anticipation of the final show in the season - often called The Happiest Ballet in the world - Peter Boal adds Coppelia (June 3-13th) into his wonderfully broad and colorful repertoire. With whispers of Italian designed sets and costumes and choregraphy by Balanchine once again - I have a feeling the NW is in for a ballet they will never forget and flock to see for years to come....

Rating: ***** Excellent and Lovely - go see it this weekend - the last weekend!