Friday, November 14, 2014

The Choice of the Director Proves to be Brilliant

Pacific Northwest Ballet's
Artistic Director: Peter Boal
Nov 7-16
McCaw Hall

The Director's Choice is exactly what the title states - the choice of the director. They are pieces of art, collected in the travels and experiences of the director of said ballet, that he/she would like to bring to his company and patrons. To share the work of said Choreographers and that they think would bring a richness to their company and season.

I love this rep for this reason. It really shows you how the Artistic Director's brain works, even if its just for a split second - because we all know the rest of the time they are the hardest people in the ballet to figure out ha! It shows you what inspires them, what speaks to them and what they believe in.

With my daughter as a young adult in the PD Division now - I regretfully don't find myself waiting long hours at the ballet any more for pick ups and drop offs...and as sarcastic as 80% of that was - part of me does miss it - because its how I would catch glimpses of the upcoming reps, hear the music from new pieces, hear the rumblings of what new artists and choreographers people were talking about that day.  So that when I did see the rep - I knew what was coming. I don't like to be surprised, forever the cynic always assuming surprises will be bad.

However this was one of those good surprises.

Kisses.  I had seen David Dawson's A Million Kisses to my Skin a few times before. Its always taken my breath away.  But each time I see it I find something new in it. This time it was ALL LEGS. SO many long gorgeous dancers in this piece. The watery flow of literally EVERY SINGLE female dancer (Lesley Rausch, Lindsi Dec, Elle Macy, Sarah Orza, Sarah Pasch & Margaret Mullin) was oozing with lovely.  Newly promoted Jerome Tisserand really stood out as such a graceful and supportive male to me, he has really risen up with his promotion. Such a joy to watch. Its funny but my most favorite moment watching this piece this time around, was a small detail...during a quiet moment with all 6 women on stage, between the notes of the orchestra and between their movements  - you could hear the women breathing. Its was a detail that some of us take for granted but I felt added a moment of realness to the whole thing.

Before After.  I had only seen this done one other time...and I was dreading seeing it again - only because the original time I saw it danced it was danced by the choreographer herself, the incomparable Annabelle Lopez Ochoa with one of my favorite male dancers ever, Lucien Postelwaite.  I am friends with the dancer I was about to see perform it - Angelica Generosa, but wasn't familiar in the least bit with her male counterpart, Raphael Bouchard. I am not the type of friend to sugar coat anything but will just refrain from saying anything. That said....ANGELICA WAS FIERCE.  She did Annabelle and her work so proud. She had a level of power and clean movement that made her little frame fill the stage. As for her partner, this was my first time seeing him in a lead modern role. He was STUNNING in this choreography.  I literally leaned over to my daughter and whispered "OMG WHO IS THIS PERSON!?". He was strong, fierce and they complimented each other so well, so much chemistry and beauty in both of them. 

---Intermission---  I am noting this break because of what is to come next. I walked into the lobby and the ever chatty patrons that were sitting behind me in the theater - were sipping coffee near me and I overheard their conversation about the next piece we were about to see, Rassemblement.  "Its boring. You probably won't like it. I think its weird..." So immediately I was intrigued.  Pulled out my program and realized I not only had never seen it before but I was only vaguely familiar with Nacho Duato's work.  I literally had NOTHING to draw on as to what I was expecting. No music peeks. No costume visuals. Read the casting as the lights were going down...

English translation definition: gathering, unity, parade, rally.
This piece BLEW MY MIND. SO many amazing images and words flew into my head - as having NOT read the program notes and not knowing what it was about - I listened to my own experience. Struggle, Freedom, Mysticism, Folklore, Primal Instincts, Raw Beauty and most of all, Power.  ALL of the dancers literally left their hearts on the floor in this piece.  The women literally took me to "clutch my pearls" with a gasp: Carrie Imler, such precision and power, almost gut wrenching at some moments. Elle Macy - SO much energy and at times seemed to forget we were there she danced with such abandonment. Jahna Frantziskonis - SO much movement and space filling for the smallest of the women. So many moments she seemed taller than any of them from how she was flexing and feeling all the way through her fingertips. And finally but not lastly - Leah Merchant - She was electric, her legs seemed to go forever. The men were all so powerful and primal but Jonathan Porretta and Jerome Tisserand really stood out - they resonated a level of strength mixed with exotic. Even the two male small parts - were so powerful because of the moment in time they represented - restraining and what seemed to emulate beating of Jerome by Charles McCall and Dylan Wald - made me hold my breathe. The entire piece has my mind racing again today. So so great and dare I say the best part of the entire rep.  At the intermission I so badly wanted to find the woman I had overheard talking about their piece being boring and weird and pick her brain as to why she thought so. But alas I know that all art is subjective and not everything appeals to everyone.

Debonair.  There had been a lot of talk regarding NYC Ballet's Justin Peck's choreography for PNB - that was premiered just a few weeks before at the famed Joyce Theater in New York City.  I had seen clips from rehearsal, heard some background and I was ready. The piece was gorgeous. Long lines, a lovely contemporary ballet that is quick footed but at the same time rich and juicy with movement. The costume on Lindsi Dec had me mesmerized. The skirt, combined with her legs for days, made her already fluid watery movements seem as she was melting into transitions. All of the dancers seemed to weave in and out of each other seamlessly - melting into one another. Margaret Mullin was like a little burst of amazing - her energy was steeped into her movements, it was contagious. Sarah Orza and Chelsea Adomaitis also stood out as super gooey and lovely in Peck's rapid but graceful choreography. It was truly a gift to watch.

Artistic Director Peter Boal has really given the patrons a gift in this rep. 4 pieces of contemporary genius. He gives you an eclectic and balanced foodie dance plate that will leave you not wanting for more when the curtain goes down - except to maybe see it again. 3 more shows remain - tonight, tomorrow and Sunday. Get your tickets at

Monday, September 22, 2014

The Ballerina Supremacy - Le Rêve

The beautiful new video from The Ballerina Supremacy - filmed in downtown Seattle and inspired by the choreography of Annabelle Lopez Ochoa. Featuring PNB Apprentice Dylan Wald and PNB PD student Madison Abeo.  Enjoy and more reviews coming soon!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Photo of the Day: lemon vodka iced tea

Tallulah's Seattle - Linda has done it again!

550 19th Ave. E.
Seattle (Capitol Hill)
Anyone who knows me knows I have a deep love affair with Brunch.  Brunch is my sinfully rich, drippy sauce, keep the coffee cup full version of a hot pool boy.  I find any and all reasons to host people at my home for Brunch and literally dance a jig at an opportunity to try the brunch menu at a new restaurant.
When our long time friend Chase Jarvis invited us out to Tallulah's - he had me at "brunch".  He then explained that it was a joint venture between himself, his amazing wife Kate, and Seattle restaurant entrepreneur and "odd fellow" - Linda Derschang.  Being a fan of Linda's knack for creating the perfect dive bar, (which hers all seem to be Seattle staples) and having a special place in my heart for the BLTA and Benedict from her popular cafe - Oddfellows, I was in..WAY IN.  Well that and having the urgent need to fill my vampiric like thirst for hollandaise and bloody marys, I found the nearest free moment on our calendar.  
My husband Ryan (RA Scion) and Chase Jarvis
Tucked away on 19th, in one of the still quaint areas of the ever changing and updating Capitol Hill - Tallulah's has a prime location among other foodie hipster heavy hitters like King Fish and Monsoon - and with its large outdoor windows and patio like vibe - adds a much needed rustic but hip feel to that part of the hill.  Its got the feel of - yes we are cool but not trying to prove it to you, if that makes sense.  They were full to the brim - with a small line of people waiting - and though he is part of the restaurant creative team Jarvis explained "We have to wait like everyone else, but that's okay!" but the crew with smiles and gracious greetings - made our very short wait bearable. Lead to a bright table literally in the center of the restaurant amidst such a variety of clientele, it was a nice change from the sometimes exclusive hipster vibe that some of the foodie spots on the hill tend to give.
Our waiter was a sweet man who brought us water and coffee and temped us with brunch type libations - to which I was tempted but stuck with coffee to nurse the over indulging from the night before. I had read reviews about this place being a big loud and busy - but considering my little hangover, I didn't find it distracting or too loud.  It was bustling, just enough to make you excited to be there. 
Chase told us what he recommended from the short but variety filled menu.  I tend to get overwhelmed with too many options, but I do admit there could have been a few more choices on the menu. We ordered a sticky bun to share while waiting for our food.  It was the kind of pastry that when you go to cut it with your fork, the side of it almost crushes it to the plate because its so soft and the gooey goodness gets stuck to the plate.  Perfect little bite to prepare for what was to come.

I ordered the Eggs Benedict because its one of the dishes I cannot resist trying at a new place that I think will rise to the occasion.   The perfectly poached eggs were served on toasted Brioche - which was a nice change from the normal english muffin, a generous slice of virginia ham and the hollandaise was fresh, rich and well made.  Coupled with roasted potatoes - I was a happy girl, literally savoring each bite like a kid at dessert.

My husband ordered the Flatbread with sunny side up egg, Bechamel and Raclette and Chase ordered the GIGANTIC Lemon Ricotta pancake.  Though I didn't taste either, they looked amazing and both men were pleased, happy and full.  The size of the pancake was so ginormous it could easily be shared between a few people. 

 SO pleased with our meal, the service and the atmosphere.  Excited for warmer weather - as Chase explained all the window lined walls open up
and the dining room turns into a patio. Much like the now gone Broadway Grill did - but with MUCH more space and better and more quaint view.  Linda's little touches - from the music, the family type vibe amongst the staff, the unassuming but cool decor (including a record player - which Ryan immediately inquired if it was operational and then offered to spin live music there during the summer - something that would be amazing if it ever comes to fruition) - she really makes it a lovely experience and one I cannot wait to have again.  Looking forward to trying dinner as soon as possible.

RATING: ***** 5 stars - a MUST

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

How to see The Royal Ballet's Giselle in Covent Garden (almost) LIVE - via a movie theater in Northgate for $15

Royal Opera Ballet
Covent Gardens via 
Thorton Place Cinemas/Northgate

The story of Giselle. Hands down one of my favorite ballets of all time.  The innocent village girl Giselle, who falls in love with the deceptive Albrecht - who is a young nobleman disguised as a peasant.  The ballet itself drips with the pain of heartache and the beauty of forgiveness. It was my first time experiencing not only the Royal Ballet - but the breathtaking talent and emotions of Natalia Osipova.

Partnering with the legendary Carlos Acosta - Natalia, 3 months new to the Royal Ballet - clearly stole the show.  

Her emotions we powerful and raw, coupled with technique that blew the mind of everyone in the audience, both live and in the theater I was in. Just when you think she touched the ceiling of her abilities, she would reach a new height 5 minutes later.

The event was the ROH LIVE Cinema series.  A former dance teacher of my daughters (who is a 17 yr old dancer at the Pacific Northwest Ballet School) messaged me earlier in the day asking if we were going.  Knowing nothing of the viewing or the series - I quickly did research and was delighted to find that its a monthly event, all over the country! The viewing isn't LIVE, its preempted so we could see it at a decent hour, if that makes sense - but its from the day of the show.  Such a lovely experience, with an intermission (complete with a static camera shot in the audience) and interviews with the choreographer and artistic director.  At one point even showed a candid of audience members sneaking a snack (obviously not allowed) and dropping their candy ha! Was pretty humorous! 

Back to the dancing.  As I said, I attended with my daughter who is a dancer, and ended up sitting next to another former teacher, arguably one of the most respected teachers in Seattle and a former member of the Martha Graham company, dancing with Graham herself, so the exclamations and gasps were from fellow dancers, which is how I (being a NON dancer) knew they were valid :)

Natalia Osipova is a beast.  Her ability to show strength, flawless technique while showing a level of emotion and frailty - had us all in tears and left us speechless. I often felt like her sheer will to push the limits of perfection was mesmerizing.  The strength put into some of her turns and jumps and then land them like sinking into quick sand, quietly and fluidly.  

It is clear the Royal Ballet is filled with amazing talent, but they all faded into the abyss with the Wilis it seemed, as Osipova danced circles around our hearts and our brains.  

I often have questions for my daughter when we see shows such as these - as far as what I think seemed "Amazing" to what she says actually WAS amazing - based on the art of ballet and what is more difficult to do etc.  The following variation from Act I made my daughter jump to the edge of her seat, gasp and cover her mouth with shock and awe. "Mom, what she just did there, is hard to do for anyone, and to make it look as easy and beautiful as she just did, is near impossible!" :

Not enough words can be said about Natalia's level of emotion that at times was almost palatable.  She had played this role before with the Bolshoi ballet, so the experience was there. Her seasoned experience was mixed with small pieces of her own heart that she was cutting out and leaving all over the stage there in Covent Garden. 

A huge success for Kevin O'Hare and his company and a great new event on our calendar now thanks to the Royal Opera House! 

Such a great idea and wonderful opportunity for lovers of dance - that is clearly not promoted well and or underutilized.  There were less 30 people in the theater and I could name about 20 who would have come to something like this in a heart beat.  Lets change that - because their schedule for upcoming premiers is gigantic:  I was SO excited to mark my calendar for April 28th - when they PREMIER the full length of The Winter's Tale by Christopher Wheeldon at the Live Cinema. Visit the website to see what else is coming up as well as to sign up for their text updates.

Friday, January 10, 2014

The Crash Reel - Its not how many times you fall, but how many times you get back up...

The Crash Reel
Release: December 13, 2013
Director: Lucy Walker
Ever see a new Documentary on HBO before bed and think, 'oh its not too long, I am just going to watch it'? Next thing its 2am and I am lying in bed, with a tear-stained face, not able to get Kevin Pearce or his family, out of my head. I am not a Snowboarder but I am a fan of snow sports in general, grew up skiing and hanging out with people that were considered dare devils, that built and went off huge jumps, hiked into back country and even a few that dared to jump small cliffs.  Though I never did those things, I was an avid snow skier and I GET what that speed and sport does to people, the feeling you get and the need to do it over and over.  Like a part of your life vein, it becomes a part of your survival you love it so much
                                                This movie is the story of Kevin Pearce 
2010 Olympic hopeful - literally winning competitions over Shaun White and his other fellow competitors. At 17 he was the dark horse that came out of nowhere, the amazing young talent that was shocking everyone.  As him and his friends were preparing for the Olympics, they took video of their training process, and you see tons of the video footage in this movie. 
 Which is why they were able to catch his tragic boarding crash on December 31st, 2009 - that injured his brain - on camera. This documentary follows the sport and how the bar is consistently raised in difficulty and the risk that is involved in a sport that creates such a shock value in the media - which honestly, was the part of the movie that I expected...

What I didn't expect, was to fall in love with the Pearce family as a whole, the way I did.  Kevin's amazing parents, Simon and Pia - were just what we all hope to become as parents.  The grace in which they handled this event that rocked their foundation...lovingly, at his side every second.  They are glue that holds the Pearce family together, with an amazing combination of unconditional love, support, spirituality and kind realism. 
  Who truly reached in and touched my heart were his brothers, David, Andrew and Adam, who made me weep with their tireless worry and support for their brother. David, who has Down Syndrome, spoke with SUCH maturity and wisdom when he would speak about both his disability and his sadness about his brothers injury.  Adam was in almost every hospital scene you saw, by his side in the recovery process.  At one point in the movie there is a family meeting about the fact that Kevin wanted nothing more than to get back on his snowboard and compete again.  The agony and pain on the family members faces and the tears and words that they use to express their feelings to him, is truly heart wrenching.  I found the way they juggled kindness and patience with sharing their pain and worry for Kevin, both inspiring and astounding.
The movie was released last month and is on HBO right now. Even if you aren't a fan of snowboarding, its really not about that - its about the human spirit and the struggle between knowing what is safe and respecting our family and our need to do what inspires us and what takes our souls to that place that no words can understand. 
RATING: ***** 5 stars. SEE THIS MOVIE