Sunday, August 31, 2014

All Premiere: A Breath of Fresh Air

November 4, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Ah, the ballet. The telling of a tale through movement, form, and structure. Add certain costumes and specific music and a full-blown story emerges right on stage. A fairy tale, most often.

But what if, rather than an illustrated book of fanciful heroes, heroines, monsters and villains, there is instead a gallery of only a handful of portraits on display? Portraits that, like the fairy tales, each tell their own story, evoke their own emotions, and share their own secrets, but in a more condensed, focused manner?

That to me is the difference between traditional ballets such as The Nutcracker, Cinderella, or Coppélia, and the more modern works Such as last March’s New Works or November 2010′s ALL THARP. Currently, from November 2nd through to the 11th, 2012, the Pacific Northwest Ballet (PNB) is running a total of six performances of ALL PREMIERE. (Your Hedonista attended Opening Night last night as media.)

The second production out of a total of eight for its 2012-2013 season (and 40th Anniversary), ALL PREMIERE offers four world premieres (three of which are by PNB dancers, with a total of six in this season): one by Seattle Native Mark Morris, as well as new creations by PNB choreographers Andrew Bartee, Margaret Mullin, and Kiyon Gaines. Four individual performances take place, interspersed among one pause and two intermissions.

(l-r) Pacific Northwest Ballet principal dancer Kaori Nakamura and corps de ballet dancers Sarah Pasch and Leah O’Connor in Andrew Bartee’s arms that work, presented as part of ALL PREMIERE, November 2 – 11, 2012.  Photo © Angela Sterling

From left to right: Pacific Northwest Ballet principal dancer Kaori Nakamura and corps de ballet dancers Sarah Pasch and Leah O’Connor in Andrew Bartee’s arms that work, presented as part of ALL PREMIERE, November 2 – 11, 2012. Photo by © Angela Sterling, provided by PNB, and used with permission.

The first performance – the world premiere of arms that work – is Everett Native Andrew Bartee’s baby, complete with a commissioned score by Barret Anspach. Eight dancers play with a theme of tension – from the organically curvaceous “bars” that turn out to be more like rubber bands than iron bars to the “prison fights” that appear to take place.

Pacific Northwest Ballet company dancers in Margaret Mullin’s Lost in Light, presented as part of ALL PREMIERE, November 2 – 11, 2012.  Photo © Angela Sterling.

Pacific Northwest Ballet company dancers in Margaret Mullin’s Lost in Light. Photo by © Angela Sterling, provided by PNB, and used with permission.

The second performance – Lost in Light – is choreographer Margaret Mullin’s creation. Inspired by the passing of a friend, this performance emanates grace, beauty, and all things living. The lighting pattern on the stage reminds one of flowers, snowflakes, or stars – things of beauty in nature that the living all appreciate, regardless of where they are on the globe. Light in all lives – and the light loved ones create in our presence while alive.

Pacific Northwest Ballet company dancers in Mark Morris’s Kammermusik No. 3, presented as part of ALL PREMIERE, November 2 – 11, 2012.  Photo © Angela Sterling

Pacific Northwest Ballet company dancers in Mark Morris’s Kammermusik No. 3. Photo by © Angela Sterling, provided by PNB, and used with permission.

The third performance – Kammermusik No. 3 – is named for the German composer Paul Hindemith’s four-movement concerto, Kammermusik No. 3, Op. 36 No. 2, 1925, written for cello and chamber ensemble in 1924. It is Mark Morris’ first commission for PNB, with lots of characteristically Mark Morris choreography: body movements that follow the details of the music, including rhythm, pitch, and fragmentary trills. He combines the rigidity of musical structure with anything but rigid content. The result: gestures by the dancers that interpret the music in very non-traditional ways.

Pacific Northwest Ballet principal dancer Carrie Imler in Kiyon Gaines’s Sum Stravinsky, presented as part of ALL PREMIERE, November 2 – 11, 2012.  Photo © Angela Sterling

Pacific Northwest Ballet principal dancer Carrie Imler in Kiyon Gaines’s Sum Stravinsky. Photo by © Angela Sterling, provided by PNB, and used with permission.

The fourth and final performance – Sum Stravinsky – features music by Igor Stravinsky (Concerto in E-Flat, “Dumbarton Oaks 8-v-1938,” 1937-1938) and choreography by Kiyon Gaines, who intends this to be a special gift to the PNB for its 4oth. Aware of the Balanchine/Stravinsky relationship – the well-known “Balanchine blue” is honored in the costume and staging.

Complete with rebellious, sometimes mechanical, and often other-worldly movements combined with costumes that I’d expect to see in Star Trek (both the original TV show and The Next Generation) it’s all just … a breath of fresh air.

Tickets start at $28 (or $15 for those 25 years of age and younger) and can be acquired online (www.pnb.org), in-person (301 Mercer Street, 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Mondays to Fridays and 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Saturdays), or over the phone (206-441-2424).

(Note: The Nutcracker runs at the PNB this year from December 7th to the 29th, 2012, dear hedonists.)

Note: In order to comply with FTC Act 16 C.F.R. 255, Heed the Hedonist would like to disclose that it does receive media “comps” and/or media discounts – but not in exchange for favorable coverage, or for withholding unfavorable coverage, of the given venue/meal/performance/product/service.

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