Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Romeo et Juliette - my breath was taken over and over...

** I am re-posting this review - Pacific Northwest Ballet is opening this ballet on February 1-10th, 2013, then taking it to the NYC Ballet on the 15th and 16th! Do NOT miss your chance to see one of the most beautiful versions of this classic and timeless love story! Click here for tickets: **

Romeo et Juliette

Pacific Northwest Ballet
Choreographer: Jean-Christophe Maillot

*This original review was written in 2009*
I know I usually write about movies - but this is also visual entertainment, so I classify the same, well actually BETTER and more satisfying.

After seeing commercials on TV and reading a few reviews, I had decided I had to see this show.

Peter Boal has took over as Artistic Director of Pacific Northwest Ballet, almost 5 years ago - and since then, has taken a new and brilliant turn with the choice of productions and shows each year.

When I got the tickets, I was preparing myself for the classic, old fashioned Shakespeare set and vision - too many frills, too much everything - but that is the beauty of the classics. This however was MUCH different than expected.

Different, beautifully poetic, modern, minimalistic and simply breathtaking. First of all the sets - large shapes - all straight angels and clean lines. Linens draped on the sets and used for costumes - they were just perfect. It was just appealing enough to the eyes to remember, but subtle enough for you to really focus on the artistry.

First off the Choreography -- Maillot's vision was clear - beautiful lines, smooth transitions but also strong and gut wrenching moments that are severe and gorgeous. Every muscle movement was so intentional and used every ounce of energy the dancer had.

The dancers. Peter Boal has a company of 48 amazing artists. The people chosen for this show were phenomenal, each in their own right. First of all - the two main parts.

Juliette was played by Brazilian born Carla Korbes. This was her first time in the role of Juliette and I must say she literally became the character. She gave so much of herself and really dedicated herself to the story. I felt her pain, I cried her tears and I felt her joyful and undeniable love. She showed the wonderful coy, playful and naughty side of Juliette - and really had fun with it.
Her ability and artistry were superb. She was strong, yet soft - fluid yet severe when needed. The art of dance is so special when it is done right, and its radiated rather than performed. Carla truly radiated the amazing attributes that Shakespeare himself envisioned his Juliette to be.

On to Romeo. Romeo was played by veteran
Lucien Postlewaite
- was Romeo in the last PNB production of this piece 2 years ago. We were lucky enough to be part of a Q & A session with both dancers after the show - and Lucien was asked the difference between this time and last time for him. He said the first time he was very busy worrying about making Romeo "his own". He said this year he really got a chance to give himself to the story and choreography and be who he was needed to be.

It was very clear on stage. My 13 year old (who is a dancer at the PNB school) while watching the "love" scene when they first kiss and really "devour" each other. She said "Wow mom, they really seem like they LOVE each other. Its so believable you almost feel like you are watching something that is just meant for the two of them...". I agreed with her observation. It was never Uncomfortable. Rather it was so intimate and tender - small gentle touches, radiated such love and unconditional bliss. It literally made me miss my husband and want to go home and feel the same way!

Lucien is a gentle but ripped power house that brought such chivalry and strength to this role. I have often seen the role in the past as one of an impulsive and boyish lover who made bad choices. On the contrary - Lucien gave reason and meaning in every movement and made you quiver every time he touched Juliette's skin. The additional opportunity to play this part I think was beneficial in the depth of the character. He truly danced with his heart and let every person in the audience see and feel what true love should look like.

Other amazing dancers that I must make note of. (*Please note that there were two casts for several parts, so I can only speak on the cast I saw - but I am sure the other dancers were just as amazing!)

Carrie Imler - played Juliette's Nurse. I adored her portrayal. Playful yet so loving and sisterly to Juliette. Her playfulness with Romeo and the men was also hilarious. She is incredible animated and played the part with a joyful beauty that was evident throughout the theater. I could tell by her lines that she is an amazing dancer and I wish I could have seen more of her in this production.

Arianna Lallone - Lady Capulet. She was stunning, brutal, cold but passionate at the same time. SO regal and SO intense. The scene where both friends die - she has this amazing modern mourning solo that is just riveting. Gut wrenching and raw, she showed us the epitome of pain and heartache. It was impossible to stay dry eyed through the solo. At one point my daughter whispered to me "She reminds me of old videos of Martha Graham the way she is dressed and her dancing style". I again, concurred - it was severe and gorgeous.

Karel Cruz - Friar Laurence. Karel as the thread throughout the story, and as the guide to all the other characters - was amazing. As one of the tallest (if not the tallest) dancers in the company - the mostly modern choreography for his character was paired with severe and dark costumes that really showed his lines. He portrayed an amazing internal struggle and showed so much power in his movements. Again reminding us of old Graham dancers - his lines of sorrow and anger were especially amazing.

There isn't much more to be said about this show that hasn't already been said. I am sad to say, this show is no longer showing at McCaw Hall. HOWEVER - "Directors Choice" did just open - featuring 4 beautiful vignettes showcasing a wonderful variety of tastes, talents and artistry within the company. I saw it tonight and will be writing a review for it VERY soon - so people will go and see it! I leave you with photos from the performance and rehearsals from this breathtaking show and ask you to keep your eye out for when Peter Boal decides to bless the NW with a rerun of this spectacular production.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Sexy Baby - Sobering Reality of Today's Sexual Landscape

Directed by: Jill Bauer, Ramona Gradus

I was searching documentaries on HBO on demand and found this title, and admit I was intrigued.

Sexy Baby follows three females, each at different points in their lives, from different background and social circles.  Nothing in common besides the fact that they are female.

13 year old Winnifred. A progressive teen, with young hip parents, she is involved in social justice groups in her middle school, a talented gymnast and about to celebrate her Bat Mitzvah.  The movie opens with her performing a poetry/spoken word performance at her school, with a troupe of others - breaking down the song Super Soak by Soljah Boy and highlights the degradation of women.

Though her parents are separated, both are very active in her life and seem to have a great open communication with her about all things, including sex.  For her 13th birthday, she is given tickets to Lady Gaga. The emotional moments of the celebration are shared, along with her mothers concerns about sending her to the Gaga concert with her friend.  As much as she values what Gaga stands for in the "Monster" movement and individuality sense - she worries about the image with her lack of clothing and makeup that she promotes.

22 year old Laura.  College student. Cheerleader. Gorgeous. Has come to the conclusion, that because of things past boyfriends have said, and because of the amount of porn available to almost anyone now a days - that she has an abnormally large labia and is embarrassed of it.  She says she feels the need to compare herself to these "perfect" women in the porn movies and therefore, has decided to get labiaplasty.  Words like "meat curtains" are something she just cant live with, and begins her consultations.

32 year old Nichole - former adult film star and stripper.  Now retired, married and trying to settle.  Her and her husband are trying to have a baby.

Her views on the industry, the accessibility and the damage it can be to young people - has totally done a 180 now that she is trying to start her own family.  Her doctor tells her she may have problems getting pregnant because of her lifestyle choice before settling down. 

The movie follows each person in their journey.  Does a wonderful job following their progression and also getting to the root of each of their growing issues and problems.  The history and shocking increase in the labiaplasty industry was the most shocking to me.  I had NO idea this was an issue that has increased 70% into women between the ages of 18 and 29 getting the surgery in the last 5 years!  The plastic surgeon likened most of it to the porn industry and the effect on society.

For me, having a daughter that is 16 - Winnie's story hit closest to home for me.  So driven, so wise and witty for her age, such strong and out spoken parents...cant go wrong, right? Wrong.  As they follow her, the problems start. Everything from sneaky video chats, to provocative photo shoots with her friends - to posting half naked photos on her Facebook.  She is banned from FB by her parents 8 times before the end of the movie.  Her language and communication with her parents changes pretty dramatically.

This is a great movie to watch with an older teenager.  Male or Female.  However the content is hardcore at times - so over 16 is my suggestion.  This is such a serious topic and such a sensitive matter for most parents/teens - this movie hits it head on, with no bells or whistles.  Just the facts and evidence from these 3 females lives.

Rating ***** - 5 stars. Excellent film - you will be thinking about it for days after watching it.  Here is the trailer:

New Video Cooking Segments

One of the reasons I started this blog, was because of my love for GOOD, HEARTY food - and appreciating the restaurants that you get what you pay for.

Being from a restaurant owning family - I am a cook myself and host dinner parties at least once a month.  Its often I am asked for one of my recipes.  I had a friend tell me once "If I could SEE you do it, i would understand how you make it...", and that gave me the idea of the videos.  Even if just a few people watch them, if it helps someone make a delicious meal for their family and friends, then it was worth it.

Here is the most popular of the recipes I have posted. Its a family favorite and truly the dish that made my husband want to marry me (he admits it lol).  Its called Ragu and its a savory pasta and pork dish, that will never disappoint.