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