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. 

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