Monday, March 25, 2019

The Trees, the dancers, my thoughts

Pacific Northwest Ballet Soloists Elle Macy, left, and Dylan Wald in "The Trees The Trees" by Robin Mineko Williams
photo @ Angela Sterling

About a third of the way into my second viewing of Robin Mineko Williams’ new ballet “The Trees The Trees,” I thought to myself, ‘I love this!’ That response confirmed my initial reaction to the dance the week before, when I saw its world premiere on opening night of Pacific Northwest Ballet’s most recent “Director’s Choice” program.

"Director's Choice" is such an interesting title for a mixed bill. Obviously, every PNB program is chosen by Artistic Director Peter Boal. That’s part of his job, after all. But the annual “Director’s Choice” gives audiences a chance to see contemporary work, and it's always one of my favorite things on the PNB schedule. In this case, we were offered two world premieres and the Seattle debut of Justin Peck’s exuberant “In the Countenance of Kings.”

The evening’s first premiere, Matthew Neenan’s “Bacchus,” was a crowd-pleasing, lively, and extremely purple, ballet. Where “Bacchus” is lush and velvety, with a score by Oliver Davis to match, “The Trees The Trees” is spiky, atmospheric, and even a little melancholy. Ultimately, though, for me it's a far more satisfying work.
PNB Soloist Leah Merchant with Corps de Ballet member Christopher D'Ariano in "The Trees The Trees."
photo @ Angela Sterling

The curtain rises on a sort of abstract, mid-century modern set: a white tree, bench and chair, and a white rectangle that serves as a back drop. Vocalist Alicia Walter enters the stage with Soloist Leah Merchant and the outstanding Corps de Ballet member, Christopher D’Ariano. Walter is singing a series of poems by Heather Christle, which have been set to Kyle Vegter’s score. Although we have the lyrics in our programs, I couldn’t always make out the words Walter sings. That was okay, though. The music meshed perfectly with the movements, conjuring a world where the dancers seem to be searching for connections, for human contact. 
PNB Soloist Ezra Thomson with Principal Dancer Noelani Pantastico in "The Trees The Trees."
photo @ Angela Sterling

From the instant Merchant and D’Ariano ooze over the white bench, to Noelani Pantastico and Ezra Thomson’s less liquid pas de deux, to Elizabeth Murphy’s marvelous solo, to Elle Macy and Dylan Wald in a final duet in front of the white rectangle, which has been lowered to obscure the rest of the set, I was immersed in this ballet. Each of these dancers seemed truly and fully invested in the choreography (I ran into Ezra Thomson after the performance and he told me they really were invested because Mineko Williams had involved them in her creative process).
PNB Principal Dancer Elizabeth Murphy performs a solo in great socks, with vocalist Alicia Walter on the bench
photo @ Angela Sterling

The movements themselves were a definite departure from the ballet vocabulary, even contemporary works. First off, the dancers wore socks, including Murphy’s burgundy over-the-knee glories. Secondly, and more significant, Mineko Williams’ choreography seems to emanate from the torso, almost undulating out to dancers’ limbs. It’s the kind of movement you see more typically at Velocity Dance Center or a Whim W’Him performance than onstage at McCaw Hall. And oh, it looked so good on these excellent PNB dancers.

I have friends who disdain ballet's attempts to defy gravity, to focus on becoming air-borne. In "The Trees The Trees" gravity rules. D'Ariano, Thomson and Wald dance a trio on, over and around a white chair. Each, in turn, slithers to the floor, rolls, then lifts himself up to circle back to have another go. Is D'Ariano casting a spell on Wald? Is Thomson watching or trying to intervene? You create the story here and throughout this ballet. 
From left, PNB Soloist Ezra Thomson, vocalist Alicia Walter, Soloist Dylan Wald and Corps de Ballet member Christopher D'Ariano in Robin Mineko Williams' "The Trees The Trees"
photo @ Angela Sterling

Later on, as I watched the ensemble move forward, one by one, to place their chins to Elizabeth Murphy’s shoulder, gently nudging her toward the floor, I was reminded of the power of the human touch, even in this era where our relationships so often consist of digital “likes.” I've read that, as our interactions move increasingly online, we crave a space to help us understand our purpose, to connect, to dream. In "The Trees The Trees," Robin Mineko Williams and the seven dancers weave a world that caught and held me, and still has me thinking.

On opening night, my Millenial companion remarked to me that “The Trees The Trees” felt very much of and about her own generation. That may be true, but this dance also resonated with me, an observer more than 30 years her senior. There’s almost nothing I like better than watching artists who abandon themselves to their material. Especially when that material is multi-dimensional, lyrical and thought-provoking. Well done, Robin Mineko Williams. Very well done cast members.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Justin Peck makes me feel old, but that's okay...

Pacific Northwest Ballet company members in Justin Peck's "In the Countenance of Kings"
photo @ Angela Sterling

Justin Peck is one of ballet’s “it” boys; his choreography seems to be everywhere: onstage at his home company, New York City Ballet; in the New York subways (courtesy of YouTube); and at ballet companies around the world, including Pacific Northwest Ballet.

Last week, Seattle audiences were treated to the local premiere of Peck’s “In the Countenance of Kings,” created in 2016 for San Francisco Ballet. “Kings” is the third Peck ballet to enter PNB’s repertoire (joining "Year of the Rabbit" and "Debonair"); for me, it's by far the most engaging. "Kings" is an energetic homage to youth, to life, and (according to the program notes) to the Brooklyn Queens Expressway--the BQE--set to Sufjan Stevens’ score of that same name.

“Kings” begins at the beginning. We see a mound of bodies center stage. Dancer by dancer, they unfold, like an exotic dried Chinese tea flower when you immerse it in hot water. Once they emerge from the mound and move across the stage, they reveal the Protagonist, Jerome Tisserand, lying on his side. He rises, and three women rejoin him: Elle Macy as Quantas, Margaret Mullin as Electress, and Botanica, danced by elegant Laura Tisserand.
PNB Principal Dancer Laura Tisserand with Soloist Joshua Grant in Peck's "In the Countenance of Kings"
photo @ Angela Sterling

Although there are no direct allusions or plot similarities, I flashed briefly on the three Muses in Balanchine’s “Apollo;” while Macy, Mullin and Laura Tisserand aren’t shaping a newborn god, I did feel they were initiating Jerome Tisserand’s Protagonist into the realm of exciting new human experiences.

This ballet is big: 18 dancers altogether, including Joshua Grant as The Hero, partnering Laura Tisserand in a liquid duet, and Lucien Postlewaite’s The Foil, a piquant partner for Mullin in a pas de deux that is both angular and exhilarating. These two remind me of the edgy, cool kids in high schools, the risk takers you admire but also shy away from.
PNB Principal Dancer Lucien Postlewaite and Soloist Margaret Mullin
photo @ Angela Sterling

Elle Macy and Jerome Tisserand are much more the wholesome duo, looking ahead to bright futures. They whirl around the stage, only occasionally pausing to breathe, seizing the day once again, unbound by the same gravity that would pin the rest of us mortals firmly to the soil.
PNB Soloist Elle Macy is always soaring, here she's with Principal Dancer Jerome Tisserand
photo @ Angela Sterling

The remaining 12 dancers are billed as “The School of Thought.” They come and go throughout the action, their movements less a chorus than a mirror or variation on what the three main couples are doing. And sometimes, they provide counterpoint action, like a dash of salsa on an already savory dish. I haven’t spent enough time in New York to understand the connections between the BQE and the ballet Peck has created. But  "In the Countenance of Kings" certainly feels like a reflection of a lively, urban streetscape, the kind of scene that you can stand by and watch with endless fascination. 

One of the things I’ve noticed in the two other Peck ballets in PNB’s repertoire is how the choreographer deploys bodies across the entire stage, even using the wings (see 'Year of the Rabbit'). “Kings” emphasizes this aspect of Peck’s skill with large groups, but the ballet is often (maddeningly) complex; often there are so many simultaneous vignettes onstage that I, at least, couldn’t absorb them all. I guess I'm not a great multi-tasker.
PNB company members contemplate the future in Peck's "In the Countenance of Kings"
photo @ Angela Sterling

So you sit back to let the constant movement wash over you, then, bam, a row of white spotlights shines out from the back of the stage, illuminating a line of dancers who drop to the floor, prone, only to prop up their heads on their hands and gaze out at the audience. Hey, everybody needs a little break sometimes. But these folks are young and recuperation is swift. They're back on their feet in no time and the hubbub recommences. 

“Kings” capped PNB’s annual “Director’s Choice” program; it was preceded by two world premieres that offered their own evocative moments (more on those dances in another post). When the evening ended, though, it was Peck’s ballet that had the audience buzzing.

You can find out why this weekend, when the program continues at McCaw Hall.

Monday, March 11, 2019

Light and Dark and Bright and Shadow

Anna Krupp and David Rue in Ella Mahler's "Here" at Velocity Dance Center
photo @ Steve Mahler

Ella Mahler’s new evening length work “Here.” begins with a percussive thwack and a jolt of bright light. What follows is a fascinating exploration of dualities: black and white, shadow and light, balance and instability, duos and individuals, togetherness and separation.

Dancers Anna Krupp and David Rue embody the dualities: she has white skin, he has black skin. They both are dressed in black pants, shirts and shoes and perform on a gleaming white floor against a white backdrop. 

After the thwack and the jolt, Krupp and Rue enter Velocity’s Founder’s Theater to Dustin Mahler’s score, and, in unison, walk, lunge and jump their way across the floor, almost constantly in tandem. Timing is critical as they raise their arms, legs and feet simultaneously. Even their hips or elbows jut out in sharp angles at the same moments. As Mahler’s electronic accompaniment builds in tempo, the dancers up their speed, running in diagonal lines across the floor, jumping from side to side like moguls skiers, dropping supine to the floor then rising up to continue their synchronous circuits, finally exiting the room. Together.
Krupp and Rue sway like sea creatures in "Here"
photo @ Steve Mahler

The music shifts, and Rue returns alone, performing a solo notable for the way his entire body is engaged; his arms bend at the elbows, and he extends his fingers, bends his knees, sinking down into a lunge then propelling himself back up as if he is a tightly coiled spring. Krupp rejoins him, and some of the spring's tension eases; they stand together, swaying gently like sea plants being stroked by the water’s current.

Mahler writes in the program that she is exploring the ways we “perceive and experience the world through examining the capacities of movement and juxtaposition.” It’s the juxtaposition that really struck me in “Here.” At one point, I felt as if I was looking at a photographic contact sheet (for those of you who only know digital photography, a contact sheet is a strip of images that have been developed from a roll of film, but not printed). Krupp and Rue pull white chairs into various positions, sit on them, crawl over one another to strike a pose, then change places once again.
David Rue and Anna Krupp balance in "Here" by Ella Mahler
photo @ Steve Mahler

When their bodies finally touch one another, it’s almost a shock to realize they’ve been dancing either side by side or one by one and have not physically come together before this moment. They lean their heads in, and the intimacy of the moment, while fleeting, feels so powerful. Looking back from the vantage point of several days, I also realize that, in some sense, this is a metaphor for the way we conduct relationships in the digital age. So often our contact with one another is through text or chat or some other online wizardry. How is that different from the way we interact face to face? Does it even matter?

Rue and Krupp each bring different qualities to this duet. Rue has a fluidity and grace that seemingly ripples through his limbs. I mentioned that he resembled a coiled spring; I might also compare his presence to a cat--I love cats--waiting to pounce. Krupp is equally graceful, but her presence is less fluid and more assertive. When she executes a sort of deconstructed version of popping and locking, you see her physical strength and versatility. The fact that Krupp and Rue are dissimilar movers is yet another juxtaposition, and makes this duet all the more compelling to me.
Anne Krupp and David Rue in Ella Mahler's "Here"
photo @ Steve Mahler

More than 60 years ago George Balanchine created a famous pas de deux for Diana Adams and Arthur Mitchell in his "black and white" ballet, “Agon.” It was notable at the time because Adams was white and Mitchell black, and dancers of different races simply didn't perform together at high profile venues like New York City Ballet.  As I watched David Rue and Anna Krupp, I couldn’t help but think about contemporary conversations about race in America and wonder what, if anything, has changed in those six decades? Ella Mahler doesn’t set out to answer that question, but with “Here” she prompts us to think about differences, similarities, and how we humans move through world. Together and apart.

Friday, March 1, 2019

Lavinia Vago Intrigues Me

Lavinia Vago, photographed by Nikita Zhukovskiy
Whenever I watch Lavinia Vago dance, I'm as gobsmacked as the first time I saw her.

Vago is blessed with an almost super-human flexibility. She can fold her body, origami-style, into an array of shapes, while at the same time projecting a haunting emotional quality that leaves me wanting more.

Over the years I've mainly relished Vago dancing with her longtime artistic partner Kate Wallich, as part of Kate Wallich and the YC. Last month, though, Vago premiered a work of her own called "Noesis X: A Solo for Two," a collaboration with sound designer and performer Harald Stojan. While I only had a chance to see a rehearsal run-through, I've been thinking about "Noesis" ever since.

The performance began before the audience entered Velocity Dance Center's main studio. Vago stood, nude, in the center of the floor, her right leg lunging forward and right arm lightly balanced on her thigh. Two digital clocks ticked up the seconds as Vago stood under a spotlight, its beams diffused by a large white opaque disc.

Once the timer reached 30 minutes, Stojan took his place at a mixing console, slowly changing what felt like an audio pulse into a more definite soundscape. Vago donned clothing: a red jacket and pants, then prowled the circumference of the floor, followed by the narrow beam of the spotlight. As Stojan's soundscape built in intensity, so did Vago's movements. Her prowl morphed into a stalk, then jumps, a hybrid of balletic jetes and jumping jacks. Ultimately, Vago jumped herself to exhaustion, sinking to the floor.

"Noesis" continued, until both the sound and the movement ebbed away, the light slowly fading.
It's a complex duet that Vago told me she expected to vary at each performance. The choreography and the audio component are both partially improvised. Vago said she gave herself physical and spatial landmarks cued by Stojan's soundscape. And his audio mix changed based on Vago's choreographic decisions. This flexibility allowed Vago to take the work in different directions each evening, although Vago said she and Stojan have been collaborating for more than a year, so she had built up physical memory of where she wanted to be at any given time during the 30 minute piece.

I regret I wasn't able to experience "Noesis" more than once. I had seen an earlier iteration in rehearsal; Vago incorporated feedback she received there, expanding her physical vocabulary which, for me, enhanced the emotional impact of this work. To me,"Noesis" was like a sensory sounding board, providing a place for me to recognize impulses within myself.

It's been ten days or so since I saw this piece, and I've been mulling it over ever since. Vago is more than a talented mover; she's an intelligent and careful creator. I look forward to watching her career evolve.

Monday, February 4, 2019

Jonathan Porretta, I never want to say goodbye!

Jonathan Porretta, center stage as Carabosse in PNB's "The Sleeping Beauty"
photo @ Angela Sterling

A few years ago, Jonathan Porretta's misfortune was my good luck.

The Pacific Northwest Ballet Principal Dancer had a severe injury; he'd finally opted for surgery that put him out of commission for months. While Porretta was sidelined, a good friend decided the time was ripe to approach him about being the subject of a book she tapped me to write. He agreed to a series of interviews.

Long story short, I spent a lot of time with him, talking about his early childhood, his amazing mother Jane, how he was bullied, and how ballet saved his life. Our conversations resulted in a book called “Out There: Jonathan Porretta’s Life in Dance,” designed by Rosie Gaynor for Seattle Scriptorum, with Angela Sterling's beautiful, beautiful photographs.

I’m telling you this because at the time, I asked Porretta what kind of plans he was hatching for his life OUT of dance. He couldn’t answer because, I think, he didn’t want to consider the future.
Jonathan Porretta, right, is Puck in George Balanchine's "A Midsummer Night's Dream"
photo @ Angela Sterling

For 20 years, Jonathan Porretta has been a fixture at PNB, dancing roles from Puck in Balanchine’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” to a sailor in Jerome Robbins’ “Fancy Free,” to Mercutio in Jean Christophe Maillot’s “Romeo et Juliette” to the masterful soloist in Molissa Fenley’s “State of Darkness.”
Porretta in Molissa Fenley's "State of Darkness" for PNB
photo @ Angela Sterling

Unfortunately, ever since his surgery, Porretta has struggled with a parade of other injuries, most recently to his Achilles tendon. Earlier this year he announced he would retire from the stage in June.

We get a chance to see him this week in PNB’s final production of Ronald Hynd’s “The Sleeping Beauty.” He’s cast as the evil fairy Carabosse, the one who doesn’t get invited to Princess Aurora’s christening and is so angry he casts an evil spell on the baby. You know the rest of the story, right?

On opening night, I barely restrained my applause when Porretta took the stage, face shrouded in a ragged cloak. Once Carabosse throws off the hood to reveal her face, Porretta stole the show, whirling like a dervish with a snake in hand, fingers wriggling like a pot of eels, cursing everyone he saw. My very favorite moment comes at Aurora's 16th birthday party, when Carabosse is seated downstage center, the hood covering her identity. She lifts her head and peeks out at us as if to say 'hey y'all, it's ME!' 
PNB Principal Dancer Lesley Rausch as Aurora in "The Sleeping Beauty"
photo @ Angela Sterling

There’s no denying that Lesley Rausch was a beautiful, and technically stunning, Princess Aurora; her Florimund, Jerome Tisserand, was as princely as ever. Lindsi Dec was a lovely Lilac Fairy, and her retinue of fairy friends were all gorgeous, but special props to Angelica Generosa as the Fairy of Joy, Sarah-Gabrielle Ryan as the Fairy of Temperament, and newly promoted soloist Elle Macy (congratulations) as the Fairy of Generosity. Big kudos as well to Dylan Wald on his promotion. 

But frankly, I had come to watch Jonathan Porretta chew the scenery, to revel in his joy onstage. PNB has six more Sleeping Beauties this week at McCaw Hall; Porretta will dance in four of them, Thursday through Sunday evenings. Get a ticket to one of those shows; it may be your last chance to see him in his element, seemingly larger than life, a true performer.

Monday, January 28, 2019

Searching for grace in a world gone crazy

Whim W'Him company members in Zoe Scofield's "This Mountain"
photo by Stefano Altamura @salt.photo

I’m sitting in a pew in Seattle’s All Pilgrim’s Church, waiting to celebrate the life of a dear friend’s mother. Two musicians, on piano and cello, play Faure’s “Apres un Reve,” After a Dream, in English.

I feel a bit dreamy as I sit here, because I’m still thinking about a performance I experienced the evening before, Whim W’Him’s “3 X 3,” featuring three strong new works by three choreographers, including WW Artistic Director Olivier Wevers.

For the past several years I’ve been fixated on the connections between what happens for the audience at a live performance and the experience at spiritual gathering such as this. I think both provide insight into our collective humanity; at their best, they offer a glimpse of the divine, however you define that term. Performance happens to be my church, or synagogue.

The connections were hammered home for me at ‘3 X 3,’ particularly by Seattle-based choreographer Zoe Scofield’s new dance “This Mountain (announcing your place in the family of things)."

I spent the past year traipsing after Scofield, following her from her Kawasaki residency at the University of Washington Dance Department to her Princess Grace fellowship residency at Jacob’s Pillow. She and I have talked about grace, about the ephemeral divine, and about the role of live performance. I was particularly eager to see her first creation for Whim W’Him.

“This Mountain” did not disappoint.

The dance was sandwiched between Yin Yue’s provocative, spidery reflection on human connection, “The Most Elusive Hold,” and Wevers’ “Trail of Soles,” a cry for compassion for the hundreds of thousands of people around the world who’ve been forced to leave their home countries for some safer place. Both dances showcase Whim W’Him’s fine performers. I’m always impressed by Liane Aung; Cameron Birts shone in a solo in "Trail of Soles."
Cameron Birts in Olivier Wevers' "Trail of Soles"
photo by Stefano Altamura @salt.photo

“This Mountain” is much quieter than either of those two works, and in its quietness, it made a loud statement for me.

The dance began with the dancers clustered at the rear of the stage, framed by two large, black cloth screens. Slowly they begin to move toward the audience, their only accompaniment the rhythmic stamping of their feet, like the pulse of their collective hearts. Each dancer separates from the group, reaching out for something we can’t see; they are reeled back gently to the group’s embrace.

Scofield then creates a series of linear patterns; four dancers face the audience as three others emerge diagonally from the wings, into a large, almost blindingly white rectangle of light. These two groups repeat set series of movements, until dancers break away, one by one, seemingly pursuing the beat of their individual hearts.
Liane Aung and fellow Whim W'Him company members in "This Mountain"
photo by Stefano Altamura @salt.photo
I found myself riveted by the movements. In their simple repetitions, they carried me beyond my seat in the Cornish Playhouse.

Back at All Pilgrim’s Church, the pastor takes the microphone to reflect on the concept of hospitality. He defines this as the offering of what he calls ‘relational grace,’ generosity that provides the space to find your true self.

I don’t know if Scofield had this concept in mind as she was working on “This Mountain.” But as the pastor spoke, his words resonated with my experience of her dance. In the program notes, Scofield asks ‘how do people come together? How do we choose to find ourselves and each other in the every day?’ I think part of the answer to that question is for humans to create generous communities that provide both a structured shelter from the world’s cruelties, and the space to embrace our true selves.

In a larger sense, that’s what Whim W’Him Artistic Director Olivier Wevers seeks to provide his audiences. In his curtain speech before the performance, Wevers asked us not only to silence our cell phones, but to turn them off. With a smile, he acknowledged that it might be difficult to disconnect from the siren call of the virtual world. But he, and Scofield, recognize the even greater power of humans sitting together in the same place, sharing the same experience.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Cerrudo's Little Gems

Pacific Northwest Ballet company members in Alejandro Cerrudo's Silent Ghost
photo @ Angela Sterling

In March, 2016, I was sitting in McCaw Hall, waiting for the curtain to go up on Pacific Northwest Ballet’s annual contemporary bill, Director’s Choice.  A dear friend had passed away the day before, and I was filled with both sadness and anticipation for the program that was about to begin. I love contemporary ballet.

I don’t remember where it appeared on the bill, but when Price Suddarth ran through the house and jumped up on the stage, the beginning of Alejandro Cerrudo’s Little mortal jump, I was shaken from my own moodiness and I set off on the kind of emotional journey I crave at a performance: I transcended my grief. Rather, I lost my self in what I saw to be a contemplation of all the possibilities that lay before us as human beings.

Does that sound high falutin’?

Maybe, but it’s an accurate description of my experience of Cerrudo’s work. And that’s why I was excited to learn that PNB would present another of his ballets, Silent Ghost, as part of its 2018 All Premiere program.
PNB Principal Dancer Leta Biasucci and company dancers in Kyle Davis' A Dark and Lonely Place
photo @ Angela Sterling

Ghost was sandwiched between PNB soloist Kyle Davis’ ambitious world premiere, A Dark and Lonely Place, and a hilarious sendup of pretentious arts writers like me called Cacti, from choreographer Alexander Ekman. Cerrudo’s work was quieter, far more intimate, a palate cleanser if you will.

PNB provided no choreographer’s statement or any other information about the ballet in its printed program, except to say Silent Ghost was the third piece by Cerrudo to be presented by the company. That left me free to experience it any way I wanted. That is to say, I could immerse myself in Michael Korsch’s exquisite and atmospheric lighting, and the cast’s equally exquisite and atmospheric performances.

I saw two different casts, but each included Lucien Postlewaite, Noelani Pantastico, Elizabeth Murphy and Dylan Wald performing two pas de deux that serve as bookends in this dance; for me they were also examples of how we humans interact with one another.
PNB Principal Dancers Noelani Pantastico and Lucien Postlewaite in Silent Ghost
photo @ Angela Sterling

The first duet featured a kind of powerful coming together, exemplified by an amazing lift: the male dancer bends at the waist, with the woman balanced on his back. She extends her legs back behind her, veed out from her body. Here’s a photo, but really, you need to see this in person. 

For me, this wasn’t only technically stunning; it really illustrated the kind of interplay that we bring to our relationships. (I should say that I saw both couples perform both pas de deux, in two separate performances; the effect was the same.)

Cerrudo has a great talent for creating interesting movements. I loved what I can only describe as a prone ‘wave.’ On opening night, Noelani Pantastico and Leah Merchant lay in a line, Merchant’s feet next to Pantastico’s head. Pantastico started to ripple, from her feet up through her legs, lower back, arms and head, then Merchant echoed this wave of movement.

The dancers kneel in a row facing the audience, then bend their arms at elbows with fingers pointed upwards. Forearms pass in front of faces, heads tilt in unison, then syncopation. It resembled a kind of sign language, but I couldn't translate it. No matter; it was fascinating to watch.
PNB dancers Dylan Wald and Elizabeth Murphy in Little mortal jump
photo @ Angela Sterling

Finally, as with Little mortal jump, Cerrudo creates an ending duet that reminded me how fragile our relationships can be. In Little mortal jump, Elizabeth Murphy and Dylan Wald dance a duet of possibilities; they spin around the floor, and soon the set begins to spin with them, opening wider and wider, inviting me to contemplate the next step in life. In Silent Ghost, the two dancers circled one another, establishing their bond and questioning it at the same time. This dance isn't really about hope and possibility; it's about our coming together then moving apart.
Wald and Murphy in Silent Ghost
photo @ Angela Sterling

Silent Ghost doesn’t really have a narrative; I’m prone to creating stories for myself where none exist, so this ballet might mean something completely different to you. Or maybe you'd simply enjoy the stellar performances PNB's dancers bring to the stage. This little gem of a ballet might be obscured by the pomp and scale of Kyle Davis’ opening work, or the tongue-in-cheek ridiculousness of Cacti (which I loved, for the record). But Silent Ghost is the dance I’m still pondering, a dance that left me wanting more.