Tuesday, November 6, 2012

ALL Diverse and ALL Stunning - PNB's All Premiere

Pacific Northwest Ballet
November 2-11th, 2012
McMcaw Hall, Seattle

Featuring Premier Pieces by:

Mark Morris, Kiyon Gaines, Margaret Mullin and Andrew Bartee

We attended All Premier opening night, which is fun in itself, its the night to see the who's who of ballet, to get all dressed to impress and hope you rub shoulders with someone fabulous - in addition to seeing the premiere pieces from a select few amazing choreographers of course.

The evening opened with the premiere of core member Andrew Bartee's piece, Arms that Work.  The stage lights to show a marvelously crafted prop that spanned the length of the stage and almost looked like a harp but with bands for the dancers to work with and around.  The two dancers out of the gate were Kaori Nakamura and James Moore.  Both show true elasticity with Bartee's movements and embodied the soul given with the dance.  The costumes were STUNNING.  Nuetral tans, linens, modern shapes and designs.  Easily could be in Spiegal's Spring catalogue. I found myself wanting the women's tops. This piece showed such a different path than what the New Works and All Premieres of the past have shown, I was so happy to see something refreshing, new and off the beaten path.  Bravo to Peter Boal for taking a chance on something that was truly a risk. The dancers that stood out for me: Carrie Imler by far was the highlight of not only this piece but the evening for me (more on her later),

Ezra Thomson and new core member Sarah Pasch almost out did vets James and Kaori as far as seamless partnering and electric chemistry, and newest core member, Angelica Generosa was surprisingly wonderful as well!  The only part of the piece that had me question and turn my head sideways like a pondering pooch, was the strange troll-like movements and lurking of Jessica Anspach on the sides - that would have been intriguing if done subtly and smooth but almost seemed a bit overacted and severe.  I thought her brother Barret Anspach's music was gorgeous however lacked the intensity I thought it needed at certain parts of the piece.  Overall we were not only impressed but so happy to be experiencing this art at PNB.

The next piece was company member Margaret Mullins piece - Lost in Light.  Reading the background on this piece about taking the saddness of a loss and finding your happiness - I was prepared for deep poetic emotion.  This isnt to say Mullins didnt deliver or that I was underwhelmed, but rather it was a bit more pleasing to the eye than the emotions.  I didnt feel as though it dug as deep as it could have.  Whether that is the fault of the choreographer or the dancer, is up to opinion.  The dancers in this company that I enjoy the most are the ones whos strength, joy and humility shine through their art when they perform.  The beauty of reps like this is that you have a chance to see members of the company that arent seen as much as some of the soloists and principles are.

I felt that pairing of Jerome Tisserand and Kylee Kitchens was gorgeous and easily out shined the others.  At times I have found Kylee emotionless from the shoulders up and not a favorite, but Jerome brought out a lighter, more expressive side of Kitchens which was refreshing and showed in every step she took.  While long legs and lines are appreciated in dancers, I find that if they aren't giving me anything upstairs, I quickly loose interest.  I was quickly aware who Carli Samuelson was, as she looked wonderful and danced beautifully.  Overall Mullins piece was soothing, sweet and lovely but I am a sucker for a bit more drama and depth.

Mark Morris's piece, Kammermusik No.3, had been veiled in secrecy for months, all of his rehearsals had papers on the windows allowing zero sneak peeks or leaks of what he had in store.  Whispers started - words like "monumental" and "epic" were flying around the PNB School.  The thing I enjoy about Morris's work is how picturesque he is, at times I thought I was seeing a revival or remix of some of the West Side story choreography - especially with the men.  The music was what gave it that epic feel - the cello predominately stirring your emotions.  The piece opened with Carrie Imler, who I like to call the PNB Rock.  She is always strong, dependable and amazing.  All of the men delivered fantastic performances, so solid and so in tune with each other.  Morris's movements are so intentional, and the PNB dancers really handle his style quite well.  There were a few that fell short in this piece that I thought made the movements seems labored and harder than they should have, however the more seasoned dancers easily shifted the focus.  In the end Morris's brilliance was realized.

Last but most definitely not least, was soloist Kiyon Gaines piece, Sum Stravinsky.  I have enjoyed Gaines as a dancer for years, and missed him last year during his injuries.  However I didnt know what to expect of his choreographing abilities and seeing no teasers or anything - was gleefully surprised.  I like to say I was doing my Zack Woodlee hands (only Glee Project fans will get this) during his entire piece!  This piece regressed me to a 10 year old giggly girl who saw real life ballerina dancing in a tutu for the first time.  That is the mood and feel of this ballet.  Sheer happiness with a lovely spirit.

Carrie Imler, principle dancer, danced the best I have ever seen her. She was glowing, nailing every line, move, turn.  Just made everything seem effortless and focused on her sheer joy for the art. Paired perfectly with my fellow Italian Jonathan Porretta - their joy and energy was magnetic! The tutu's. Can I say I am in love with a tutu?  A gorgeous light, blue and other hue tutu that had a different hue and cut different for each lead female dancer.  When Maria Chapman came out with the one shouldered version I died. You could tell she felt gorgeous in it.  Her smile was as vibrant and amazing as her arched feet.  The principle dancers truly showed us why they are in the positions they are in this piece.  In the music industry we say - they left in on the floor.  They truly put every thing they had into Gaines work and even though all the works were amazing - it was evident that this was the performance of the night.   

If I had to rate the performances in order of preference, I would say Gaines, Bartee, Morris and Mullin.  But truly all of them were gorgeous pieces of work, each coming from the heart and soul of a gifted and talented dancer and choreographer. 

This weekend is your last chance to see All Premier - tickets are available at http://www.pnb.org or at the box office day of show. 

Lunchbox Laboratory - Well worth the experiment!!

1253 Thomas St, Seattle, WA
(206) 621-1090
Open 11am to 11pm Daily
(also have a location in Bellevue)

We decided to give this place a try after some friends, who know our love for good quality food, recommended it to us, saying we would not be disappointed.  (Shout out to the Berg's!!) I must say I had my doubts.

We went to the Lab late on a Sunday, hoping they would be open.  With only a few tables and an hour before close, I was already thinking like a sceptic.  Then I read what was on their sandwich board sign out front:  "where 6 pieces of bacon...is just average!"...and I realized, I was home.  Decorated with vintage and classic old lunchboxes, we found ourselves pointing out favorites and marveling and ones we didn't know existed.  There was an arcade upstairs that we were all very tempted to go up and see, but we told ourselves we would go there next time, when we had more time and they weren't closing.

Our waitress was cute, sassy and fun and didn't give us that "Ugh I was hoping to go home soon" look when she greeted us.  That's always nice.  I quickly ordered one of their vodka infused drinks that looked so fun, the two men had beers, when she asked what kind they just said "Whatevers big, comes in a BIG glass lol" they pounded their chests and carried clubs too.

Our teenager was trying to stop from hyperventilating to give her drink order.  You see she had just read on the menu that they had NUTELLA shakes.  She needed CPR from the cute male bartender immediately she claimed.  She was going to have to settle for the shake, a close second.

We began perusing the menu, so many fun items, so little time!  Immediately the MINI CORN DOGS were pointed out to me.  Brilliance.  We called waitress back over as fast as possible and asked for 2 orders of them.  Bite size corn dogs on a stick. Hand dipped and fried as they are ordered.  They were DELICIOUS and between the 4 of us, gone in 2 minutes.  

The decision as to what burger to order was so difficult.  I am a burger foodie snob.  I admit it. I am constantly on the search for the best burger in the world.  There are categories though, there are trashy middle of the night grease burgers, there are shishi Kobe onion crusted $40 burgers and just sometimes you can find a mix of both.  Something that is messy and a bit greasy but also won't slide through you and has quality ingredients.  Imaginative combinations is a plus, and LL most definitely had that.  They also have things for those not wanting burgers - which oddly neither male with us wanted.

I ordered the Santa Fe Slammer – Super-beef patty, Colby jack cheese, bacon, lunchbox onions, Anaheim green chilies, Papa’s homemade BBQ. They cooked it exactly how I asked, medium rare, more pink than usual.  The bacon, chilies and BBQ sauce were all a perfect dance together.  I wanted a bottle of their BBQ sauce to take home with me!  Tater tots on the side, a soft but lightly toasted bun and ALL my fixings fresh and on the side -  made this one of the best burgers I have ever had.

Those with my group ordered the Dork (and Pork and Duck patty) as well as the Burger of the Gods (key ingredient is the Gorgonzola) and they were all moaning and grinning as they demolished their meals.

I must say - being a bit of a picky restaurant patron - I have high expectations when it comes to presentation and plating.  For a place that specialized in burgers, I was quite impressed with their plating.  Each burger was served on long rectangular plate with the side you choose in a nice bowl, very modern/chic looking.

 Normal restaurants have "specials" well LL has "Experiments" which are not only imaginative and hilarious but most of the time delicious and current event based lol!  For example on this weeks list:
Donald Trump vs. The Birth Certificate --
Dork, Cheddar Cheese, a mix of Sweet Brown Sugar Marsala Onions and Crushed Pineapple, and Pineapple Mayo!  Priceless!!

We enjoyed our meal and service at this joint tremendously and have raved about it to everyone we can!!  Give them a try, you won't be disappointed!!

RATING! *****  5 out of 5!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Rebirth - it stays with you long after the movie is over

“We sometimes encounter people, even perfect strangers, who begin to interest us at first sight, somehow suddenly, all at once, before a word has been spoken.”
— Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Crime and Punishment

Released: 2011
Director: James Whitaker

This quote is the words I needed to express my connection to this movie, and to one of the people in the film.  I recently watched a movie called Rebirth.  A documentary that came out last year, shadowing 5 people who were horribly affected by 9/11, over 10 years this movie documents the healing process after experiencing something so unimaginably tragic and unexplainable.

I have watched a lot of 9/11 documentaries, movies, interviews - like most people - I was not touched in my own family, but jarred and emotionally effected at the loss it was for our nation, and for anyone who lost a brother, sister, friend, mother, father, aunt, etc.  Over the last few years I have tended to steer away from these movies, because honestly they make me sad, make me cry and as someone who wasn't directly affected, at times I feel bad for my tears - like I don't deserve them. 

My late brother Jimmy - who would have been 31 this year - was living in NYC when the attacks occurred.  We were panicked.  He got a hold of us that day, saying he was fine.  He was obviously shaken, sad, confused, angry.  There was darkness in his voice.  A few years later we traveled to NYC for a few days, on the way to CT for his Yale graduation.  I wanted to see Ground Zero - but never did.  Did I try very hard to go? No. Part of me dreaded it.  The cloud of darkness was still looming around my brother and his graduation.  Later sadly we will learn that cloud was a much bigger issue, mental issues.  And in 2007 - at he age of 27 - my brother jumped out of the 9th story of his office building in Atlanta. 

What does this have to do with this movie about 9/11?  I began to watch it one afternoon.  Within minutes of beginning a young boy - if I had to guess he had to have been 17 or 18 - named Nicolas Chirls.  He had lost his mother, who was working in the World Trade Center.  Was it because I was a young mother and the story tugged at my heart? Sure.  But it was more than that. This movie showed the different types of grief and processes of healing. It was in his eyes. The way he held himself.  This young man, was so real, so honest, but also so together and composed.  Not stoic, but solid.  The memories he shared or chose to share were so exposed and vulnerable, but the way he presented them was like they were on a plaque - with true memorial, honor and recognition.  He was so thoughtful and careful at such a young age to his grief process.  Giving himself room to be angry, but also to miss her and need to just "smell her hair". 

  During the middle of the movie i realized - this kids personality was very similar to my brothers.  Incredibly bright. Very thoughtful and sensitive, but strong and controlled.  As they followed Nicolas through the years of this documentary, it was amazing to watch his growth.  From anger for Bin Laden to his own father - then those feeling growing into a humble admittance that he didn't hate either.  It was amazing to watch.  The difference one year after the next can do...this young man gave me hope.  Hope that healing and rising up out of such a tragedy is not only possibly, but it is something we are given for reasons unknown, but build us into the amazing people we are today as adults.

I shed tears for Nicolas. From the moment with the baby sparrow, to her birthday wish, selflessly given to each of her children, by way of re-lighting birthday candles...I connected with him.  I felt like he could have been my brother.  I wanted to check on him, send him cookies, give him a hug and let him know he was amazing. 

I don't mean to ignore the others highlighted in this movie.  They all had amazing stories of loss and "Rebirth" that brought a sense of hope and joy with every detail.  But have you ever watched a movie, and days, weeks, months after - a part of it sticks with you? This is what has stuck to me.  Here is a trailer.  Watch it if you can - Its on the movie channels right now.