A PNB Doubleheader
Like all art media, ballet is more than a form of dance, more than an expression of art through the body and its movements; it’s a way to draw out emotive responses in those who not only observe, but become drawn in and an actual part of a given performance. It’s also good to shake things up a bit; and although ballet in its classical form is perhaps the epitome of ballet, like most everything in life, it’s healthy to challenge the status quo, and to stimulate true evolution.
Last Saturday your Hedonista attended a Pacific Northwest Ballet (PNB) double-header as media: Snow White (March 17th to 25th, 2012) and New Works (March 16th to 24th, 2012). The performance of Snow White – complete with concept and choreography by Bruce Wells and music by Jules Massenet – was lovely, and everything that one would expect of a ballet performed by the students of the PNB School and geared for a children’s audience: playful, airy, and light, with dancers deeply focused on form and fluidity. A single hour without any intermissions. Colorful costumes and intense moments of celebration and trepidation. (Don’t worry, they turn on the house lights when the evil Queen gives Snow White the apple and she “dies.”) All in all a lovely performance worthy of taking those aspiring ballet dancers and/or future ballet supporters.
But the real story here is with New Works. A series of three new works performed interspersed two intermissions, this show is an absolute must-see. The first two are PNB premieres and feature music by Johann Sebastian Bach, while the last – my personal fav by far – is a world premiere and features music by Jasper Gahunia.
The first features British choreographer David Dawson and his A Million Kisses to my Skin – so-named as a tribute to what ballet dancers sometimes experience. Not unlike a runner’s high, these dancers feel something that is akin to ” … a million simultaneous kisses to your skin.” Where modern dance filled with emotion and soul meets classical ballet, this dance expresses a veritable release of pure bliss.
The second, Cylindrical Shadows, features music by David van Bouwel, Johann Sebastian Bach (after Alessandro Marcello), and Henry Purcell. Choreography is by Annabelle Lopez Ochoa. This one features a very circular, cylindrical dance that is an evolution of an earlier piece she created; one that pays homage to a close friend who died unexpectedly at the age of 33 years and the emotions linked to such a loss. Like the circle of life and the seasonal cycles, this dance shows the full range of emotions, from tender affection, to stunned loss, to incurable grief.
The third, Mating Theory, features music by composer, hip hop producer and competitive turntablist Jasper Gahunia. This one really spoke to me (perhaps in part because I’ve admittedly jumped on The Walking Dead TV show bandwagon as of late.) In this dance, Choreographer Victor Quijada adds street-dancing to the mix of modern dance, classic ballet, and contemporary ballet. Influences include ” … capoeira, yoga, martial arts, and even theatrical improv.” The result: a very unique and original work to reach his ultimate goal: “to make a new dance language, one that can tell new stories.” To me, this dance is pure zombie ballet – what zombies – er, walkers – would create if they were composing a ballet about mating rituals. Lots of slow, disjointed movements and shambling. (Seriously.) (Maybe he’s watching The Walking Dead, too.) I absolutely loved it.
In sum, my hat goes off to PNB’s Artistic Director, Peter Boal. (Bravo and thank you!)
Just two performances remain for Snow White: 12:00 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. this coming Sunday, March 25th, 2012, with three ticket prices for this show: $25, $50, and $67. Four performances remain for New Works: three 7:30 p.m evening performances, including tonight: March 22nd, 23rd, and 24th, with a 2:00 p.m. matinée performance. Ticket prices range in price from $28 to $107.