Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Shakeups At Pacific Northwest Ballet

Pacific Northwest Ballet dancers in the Stowell/Sendak "Nutcracker" photo by Angela Sterling
The rumors are true. Pacific Northwest Ballet will say farewell to its long-running production of "Nutcracker" this year. Choreographed by former PNB Artistic Director Kent Stowell and designed by the late Maurice Sendak, "Nutcracker" will have a final run over the 2014 holiday season. PNB plans to replace it in 2015 with a new production of George Balanchine's Nutcracker, with sets and costumes by Ian Falconer.

The Stowell/Sendak production has delighted Seattle area audiences for decades. PNB Artistic Director Peter Boal performed in the Balanchine version during his days at New York City Ballet, Balanchine's company. We'll find out how Northwest audiences respond to the swap.

In other PNB news, last month the company promoted five dancers: Margaret Mullin, Elizabeth Murphy and William Yin-Lee move from the corps de ballet to soloist positions. Laura Tisserand and Lindsi Dec were promoted to principal dancer. Both of these tall, dark haired women are lovely performers, but I'm especially excited to see Lindsi Dec recognized for her work. In the past five years, Dec has exploded from the corps de ballet. She is elegant and precise, passionate and stately. It's delicious fun to watch her perform with her husband, Karel Cruz. Can you say sizzle?
Pacific Northwest Ballet Principal Dancers Lindsi Dec and Laura Tisserand in Balanchine's "Concerto Barocco".
Photo by Angela Sterling
And finally, PNB's 2014-15 season includes an all-William Forsythe program. It's called "The Vertiginous Thrill of Forsythe." On that March 2015 bill: "In The Middle, Somewhat Elevated," long part of the PNB repertoire, plus two local premiers: the 1996 dance "The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude" and "New Suite," a collection of duets that include "Slingerland Pas de Deux" and the pas de deux from "New Sleep", choreographed for San Francisco ballet in 1987.
Pacific Northwest Ballet Principal Dancers Jonathan Porretta and Carrie Imler in William Forsythe's "In The Middle, Somewhat Elevated." Photo by Angela Sterling

During his tenure in Seattle, PNB Artistic Director Peter Boal has tried to balance productions of the classical ballets like "Swan Lake," "Sleeping Beauty" and "Coppelia" with presentations of contemporary work by Forsythe, Crystal Pite, and Victor Quijada. Given that his company is the largest in the region, Boal bears the responsibility to both preserve the ballet tradition and to help push it forward. When it comes to new work, that's exciting for audiences. When it comes to retiring a beloved tradition like the Stowell/Sendak "Nutcracker," is Boal inviting the wrath of that same audience? We'll have to wait and see.

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