Saturday, November 7, 2015

You MUST Emerge with PNB


Pacific Northwest Ballet

November 6-15 

Artistic Director: Peter Boal

Sum Stravinsky

The Calling



Last night was the opening night of Pacific Northwest Ballet's mixed rep and my mind is still swimming in the magnificence of it all. Artistic Director Peter Boal has put together a FEAST for patrons with this rep. Each piece fantastic in its own way and building to the end with Emergence, the show will leave you in absolute awe and amazement.  But I will get to that, lets start at the beginning...

SUM STRAVINSKY choreographed by the newly retired PNB Soloist Kiyon Gaines. First off let me just say that there is SUCH an advantage to having a piece choreographed by a former member of the company he is working with. He knew who to put in what place perfectly. The music of Stravinsky, that as a band nerd always made me emotional, perfectly seasoned the dancers' quick movements. The piece was fast paced, precise and exciting.  A lot of new faces in the corps so it was nice seeing a few of them really shine, most notably Miles Pertl.  The 3 duets were the shining moments of this piece.

Angelica Generosa was perky, quick and gorgeous and her partner Ben Griffiths balanced her nicely, being technically perfect and strong, a joy to watch.  Then Maria Chapman - who it is SO nice to see back on that stage after having a baby - is clearly back with a vengeance. Her movements were gorgeous and fluid and her physical ability, paired with the always amazing and perfect partner Karel Cruz, they are one of my favorite duos.  Finally my favorite pair of the evening was Lesley Rausch and her real life partner Batkhurel Bold. Lesley was FIERCE. The two of them, were sassy and the offstage chemistry shined through as authentic on the stage, which adds so much to the performance. Kiyon truly created a work of art that celebrated his peers' abilities and strengths.

THE CALLING choreographed by Jessica Lang. This was a premier for PNB and I had seen clips so I knew it would be emotional. It also made the cover of the rep program (above) so I knew it would be good.

New corps member Dylan Wald had the honor of performing opening night and it was magnificent. Every movement was tangible and intentional. Every muscle was clear and strong like a marble statue come to life on stage. The costume created such an amazing visual that coupled with the dancers level of amazing movement, was almost too much beauty to handle.  Such an emotional piece and such a treat to have it at PNB and in the rep.

Dylan Wald is truly a rising star and that was definitely his moment.

SIGNATURE choreographed by corps dancer Price Suddarth. World Premiere. I didn't know what to expect. I had only seen a solo done by Price, which was amazing but its hard to tell the capacity of a choreographer from a solo.  I was intrigued to say the least.  If I had to come up with a phrase that described this piece it would be:  "HOLY AMAZING PORT DE BRAS".  

The french literal definition of port de bras: "bearing of the arms" If you can appreciate and love a good fierce port de bra like I do, this piece will complete you. So satisfying watching such big beautiful movements. The opening group section was so intense and overwhelming! I truly think lighting is so important and the LIGHTING for this piece truly set the mood.

Suddarth put together a gorgeous collection of movements that truly celebrated the body of each dancer. I do have to say my favorite moment - was fittingly called the "men's dance" I was told.  Principle men; Jerome Tisserand, Karel Cruz and Batkhurel Bold - and corps men Dylan Wald, Kyle Davis and Ezra Thompson all in one place. So stunning. The visual it gave me will make you laugh. You know that movie, Heat with Robert De Niro, Al Pacino and Val Kilmer? How everyone was in awe that they were all in a movie together? That's how I felt watching Tisserand, Cruz and Bold on stage at the same time. 3 of the company's strongest dancers together in one place! It was truly a moment that was such a bonus for everyone! Price surprised me with this intense and gorgeous piece and I thought it was the perfect prelude for Emergence.

EMERGENCE. Let me reiterate: EMERGENCE.

"Force, trajectory, inertia, and recovery: dancing is a ride, a duet
between your instinct and imagination. To dance is to heighten your
experience of the present moment."

 ~ Crystal Pite, choreographer of Emergence.

Crystal Pite GIFTED her brilliance to the PNB dancers for this mind blowing piece. Actually its NOT a piece...Emergence is an EXPERIENCE. It's a journey.  I heard so many people asking questions after to their friends and family, about the subjects, about the process and journey, trying to figure it all out. It left people talking and wondering.  It even sparked questions in my circle trying to determine who was what.  Until finally our daughter, (who is a Professional Division student that was an understudy and got the amazing opportunity to dance in this last night) said something to us when we met her at the stage door. We fired a barrage of questions at her because she danced it, she would know right!?
"It is all up to interpretation. It can be whatever you see, whatever you imagine it to be. Its not at literal as you need it to be". Note taken and absorbed, thanks Ms. Bee.

The opening. Soloist Margaret Mullin was absolutely riveting and scary good as the EMERGING bee. I kept cursing under my breath in awe. Just shockingly insane.  The music, subtle rhythmic and insect-like, made each bug like twitching and twisting movement that much more accurate and intriguing.

The female bees come out in what looked like a cross between a fencing
and a bee keeper mask. The corps women did an amazing FLUID job of
embodying the queen bee spirit. Their unison bourres' sounding like the
low hum of bees and moving them across the stage like they were

Truly every woman had to be strong and exactly together to make the visual a reality and they delivered x10.  

To be VERY honest the treat of this piece is the men. Adorned with amazing back
artwork and swarming together like you have never seen them before in
one place, it was truly a sight to see. You will never see all of the PNB men in one place like this. They showed so much strength but also versatility to give us such
bug-like movements. Crystal has an uncanny ability to manipulate the
dancer to take her visions and learn to move in ways I think most of
them had not done before.

The solo bee women, served FIERCE bee moments especially Leah Merchants
solo with the men.  It was almost like she was having a Mulan moment and
trying to be part of their group. Explored Gender and the struggle, all in that moment. Gorgeous performance.

The other powerful duet, Laura Tisserand, coupled with the powerful Bold, owned every inch of space around her. She embodied
the queen of the hive and had me speechless with how much intensity she gave. 

Standing ovation to Crystal for such an intense journey that I am
still reeling from today. A huge thank you to Artistic Director Peter
Boal for taking a risk, one of many risks he is taking this season that I
know will prove to not only benefit the Ballet as a whole but will
benefit the dancers and the experience we have as the audience.  Go to
this rep and get ready to take a journey from start to finish.

Go EMERGE, you will not regret it.

All photos courtesy of the amazing Angela Sterling who's work can be found at

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