Living Up to Its Status

​Review of Swan Lake at Pacific Northwest Ballet by Mobird

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A classic work of art, Swan Lake is heartrending and technically complex, and the Pacific Northwest Ballet is well up to the challenge of this amazing performance. With music by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky, who also composed The Sleeping Beauty and The Nutcracker, as well as complementary choreography by Kent Stowell, this is a masterful, well-choreographed, and well-rehearsed performance.

Carla Körbes is stunning in the dual role of Odette, the swan’s princess, and Odile, the daughter of the villainous Baron von Rothbart. This is also one of her last performances with PNB, as she is retiring at the end of the season. Körbes' lines and control of her body are sensual and breathtaking. She makes holding an on-pointe arabesque for more than 15 seconds look like the easiest thing in the world. She makes even the hardest moves look easy.

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Millenial Movement

​Review of Splurge Land at On the Boards by Kali Swenson

Splurge Land sets an unfortunately familiar scene: a contemporary house party. It could be a no-parents-home situation, a typical Friday night in college, or just some young adults trying to have a good time. There’s smoking, drinking, body-flaunting, Instagramming, a bag of chips, loud electronic music, and—of course—dancing.

Kate Wallich/The YC dance through the late-night narrative of the post-net generation, one whose good times appear all the better because there are hashtagged photos to prove it. Yet, there’s an ominous feeling to Splurge Land that never quite goes away. The supposed fun never surpasses the bleak means of trying for it.

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Avoid the Rain with a Trip to Spain

​Review of Don Quixote at Pacific Northwest Ballet by Charlotte P.

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Is the cold winter weather getting you down? Well, Pacific Northwest Ballet has provided the perfect solution. Take a trip to warm, sunny Barcelona with PNB’s Don Quixote. The production, choreographed by world-famous choreographer Alexei Ratmansky, captures the passion of Spain with an undertone of Russian classicism.

Based on Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra’s literary masterpiece Don Quixote, the ballet is an energetic spectacle that draws out laughter from the very beginning. Although entitled Don Quixote, the Don (and his portly sidekick Sancho Panza) plays a minimal part in the action aside from his journey to find his true love, Dulcinea. The majority of the plot follows the escapades of Kitri, a feisty Spanish girl, and Basilio, her lover, around Barcelona in escape from Kitri’s father, who wants her to marry the ridiculous, but wealthy, Gamache.

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Love It Again for the Last Time

​Review of Nutcracker at Pacific Northwest Ballet by Catherine Y.

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What better way to celebrate the holiday season than to see Pacific Northwest Ballet’s production of Sendak and Stowell’s Nutcracker? It is truly a one-of-a-kind show that the entire family can enjoy.

The classic is brought to life with vivid backdrops and bright ruffled dresses that transport the audience straight to Nuremburg to find festivities in full swing on Christmas Eve in the Stahlbaum home.

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Shining Bright

​Review of Jewels at Pacific Northwest Ballet by Megan R.

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The show starts off with a bang — or rather, with a timpani. With the glittering curtain still down, the sound of Tchaikovsky soars from the orchestra pit and fills the concert hall. Then the curtain lifts and more then a dozen dancers come into view. As they leap and twirl across the stage, the dancers, dressed in sparkly bodices and flowing green skirts, truly become jewels.

Jewels at Pacific Northwest Ballet doesn’t set out to tell a story. When it premiered in 1967, George Balanchine’s Jewels became the first full-length plotless ballet and its three parts — “Emeralds,” “Rubies,” and “Diamonds” — are linked only by their jewel-toned costumes.

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A Magical Storybook Come to Life

​Review of Giselle at Pacific Northwest Ballet

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If a magical fairy came up and dumped fairy dust TNT on your favorite childhood storybooks, you’d have Pacific Northwest Ballet’s production of Giselle. With swirling romance, fierce jealousy, and stage effects to make every person “Ooh” and “Ahh,” you’ll be wondering how PNB pulled off this magical classic.

The story of Giselle is short and sweet: Rich guy likes girl. They fall in love. She finds out he’s rich. She dies from shock and becomes a ballerina zombie. And a bunch of sad stuff happens. PNB manages to turn this simple story into an elegant and captivating performance worthy of the word “beautiful” in every sense.

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One Doesn’t Need a Magic Flower to Fall in Love

​Review of A Midsummer Night's Dream at Pacific Northwest Ballet

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The story of A Midsummer Night’s Dream is complex. There are kings and queens, fairies, multiple love stories, magic spells, and a character whose head is replaced with that of a donkey’s. As if reading Shakespeare’s own original work wasn’t difficult enough, Pacific Northwest Ballet has taken on the fanciful tale in an even more challenging way: wordlessly. With music by Felix Mendelssohn and choreography by George Balanchine, the PNB company manages to share the Bard’s mystical comedy through ballet.

Act one begins in a forest of dreams. The elaborate set of this production is astounding. At times the forest is full is luscious pink roses and ballerinas portraying fairies and butterflies dance below them. A giant green tree frog watches over the forest dwellers. Of course, a magic flower, which causes anyone sprinkled with its pollen to fall in love with the next person they see, grows in a world like this.

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The Perfect Beginner’s Performance

​Review of Pinocchio at Pacific Northwest Ballet by Ivy R.

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The most common excuses my friends give me when I ask them to accompany me to the ballet are the following: “It’s too long!” “I never understand what’s going on!” “It’s boring!”

But Pacific Northwest Ballet’s Pinocchio is the perfect beginner’s performance to gain an appreciation for ballet. Only running a little over an hour, it eliminates the inevitable fidgeting that often accompanies long periods of sitting. Pinocchio opens with a colorful set and costumes transporting you to a circus-like atmosphere in which you quickly forget you are indeed at the ballet. Pinocchio tells the classic childhood fairytale with upbeat music, humor and, of course, energetic and remarkable dancing (which is the real treat of coming to the ballet).

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A Paragon of Ballet

​Review of The Sleeping Beauty at Pacific Northwest Ballet by Leon J.

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Picture a stage. Picture a baroque-inspired set with tall pillars and marble sets. Purple, blue, and green lighting illuminates purple, blue, and green-dressed dancers as the curtain rises, giving everything a slightly ethereal look. The music swells. The dance begins.

So starts Pacific Northwest Ballet's production of Tchaikovsky's iconic The Sleeping Beauty. A three-act ballet (with an additional prologue) based on the famous fairy tale, The Sleeping Beauty is a paragon of ballet.

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Pick of the Week!

​The Northwest Royale 2014: 2-on-2 Breaking Tournament at Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute

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The Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute welcomes breakers from across the Northwest Region to battle in a unique competition. Each b-boy/b-girl will be randomly paired with a partner the day of the event and then have to dance with that partner to proceed through the rounds. Each dancer will be given a cash amount for participating that they'll then wager in their battles, with bets eventually adding up to their prize for winning.

​The Northwest Royale 2014: 2-on-2 Breaking Tournament Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute February 8, 5 - 10 p.m.

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A Flurry of Tulle

​Review of Nutcracker at Pacific Northwest Ballet

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With a 30-foot king rat with a stray flopping tail, swirling cardboard waves, and a clock that grows legs at the stroke of midnight, Maurice Sendak’s set doesn’t attempt realism. His two-dimensional props look more like cutouts from a children’s book than objects of the real world. But that’s fitting from the author of Where the Wild Things Are. And it’s perfect for a show like Nutcracker.

Pacific Northwest Ballet’s annual show isn’t a typical ballet. From the stage to the audience, Nutcracker is all about the kids. It allows PNB students to take on serious roles and children (armed with tutus and tiaras, of course) to fill the lobby. In some settings, that would make the show feel juvenile, but at Nutcracker, it’s refreshing. It makes the show what it is — magical.

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Sensual, Funny, Forgettable, and Frightening

​Review of Kylian + Pite at Pacific Northwest Ballet

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The two-part title of Pacific Northwest Ballet’s Kylian + Pite is misleading. Consisting of four vastly different dances, the show offers much more than just those two names.

Kylian + Pite opens with Petite Mort, a dance choreographed by Netherlands-based Jiri Kylian and set to music by Mozart. Almost immediately after the sparkly, red curtain lifted, I heard a little voice behind me exclaim “wow,” capturing both my thoughts and her own. This (approximately) five-year-old girl would proceed to accurately narrate the entire show for me.

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Hello. I’m Twyla Tharp, and I can do anything.

​Review of Air Twyla at Pacific Northwest Ballet

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Pacific Northwest Ballet has a crush on Twyla Tharp. The iconic American choreographer has spent the last year as Artist-in-Residence in PNB, and while we can’t be sure how many gushy entries PNB may have written about Twyla in their diary, their new all-Tharp production, Air Twyla, shows that Twyla is a pretty swell person to have a crush on.

Tharp’s versatility as a choreographer makes Brief Fling an impressive start to the show. Military drum rolls, classical pieces, and a fleeting moment of disco groove come in quick succession as Tharp uses the dancers to explore a hundred different moods and styles. As the piece switches wildly over and over again, it begins to feel a little like Whack-a-Mole. Then you get it: this is Twyla Tharp saying casually, “Hello. I’m Twyla Tharp, and I can do anything.” And it’s true: her choreography rings true every time. Though Kaori Nakamura and Sascha Radetsky came off a touch behind the beat, Tharp’s big finish leaves you excited for the next two acts.

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A Big, Balachine-y, World-Premiere-y Bang

​Review of Director's Choice at Pacific Northwest Ballet

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PNB is closing out another season and by the looks of Director’s Choice they are quite intent on going out with a bang—a big, Balanchine-y, world-premiere-y bang. If you haven’t made it down to McCaw Hall to see Director’s Choice in years past, this is a good year to do it. The annual show of assorted pieces selected by PNB’s Artistic Director, Peter Boal, can range from feeling like Ballet Trail Mix—light, snacky, and a mix of flavors—to feeling like Very Serious Ballet With Capital Letters, Please Sit Up Straight. This year, though, PNB hits the nail on the head and has put together a show where you can feast your eyes and marvel at the crazy, beautiful things that a dancer can do.

The evening starts with Agon, a 1957 piece by American ballet great George Balanchine. As one might hope at a ballet show, it’s the dancing that’s impressive in Agon. The dancers move in strict Balanchine symmetry all over the stage—except when they don’t. The graceful, rigid ballet you’re used to suddenly becomes deliberately awkward. Limbs swing around like open doors, and the graceful music you were expecting becomes jarring and grating. As a non-old person, I can certify that the awkwardness here is the same awkwardness you felt/will feel in sophomore year of high school or at most of prom. What’s cool, though, is that the unexpected awkwardness forces you to actually focus on what the dancers are doing; when you appreciate the strength and the power there, that’s when the ballet becomes really impressive.

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Incred-ability

PNB's Swan Lake and the pleasures of order

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There is nothing easy about dancing en pointe. Ballerinas and danseurs often spend years perfecting their abilities to dance on the tips of the toes while still remaining graceful in their upper bodies. Pacific Northwest Ballet’s Swan Lake dancers, however, make dancing en pointe look flawlessly easy.

PNB’s production of Swan Lake, choreographed by Kent Stowell, is a classic performance of Tchaikovsky’s ballet, with four acts and a brilliant company of dancers. The ballet tells the tragic tale of Odette and Siegfried, two lovers who are determined to break Odette’s curse of being a swan, but are undermined by the menacing Odile, who deceives Siegfriend and forces Odette to forever remain a swan by day.

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Embrace the Dark

Review of Giselle at Pacific Northwest Ballet by Tucker C.

NOTE: Contains spoilers!

Photo by Angela Sterling

When the sun is shining and the thermometers around town finally crack 70 degrees, it may not seem entirely intuitive to go see a very dark ballet about betrayal, death, and supernatural vengeance. Sure, while you’re sitting in a dark, cool, enclosed space, you could be out water skiing or sunbathing. But the fact is that while summer comes only three months of the year in Seattle, the Pacific Northwest Ballet’s Giselle is here for only two weeks, and it is not to be missed under any circumstances. The last show of their season and a completely new staging by Peter Boal of the classic work, Giselle is captivating and entrancing.

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CRUSH OF THE MONTH

Hard-working, cute-boots-wearing, Janet Jackson-loving dancer Amber Mayberry Check out Amber's interview with Tucker C.: You can see Amber dance in Spectrum Dance Theatre's upcoming show The Mother of Us All March 3 - 5 The Moore Theatre More info at spectrumdance.org

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A.W.A.R.D. Show :: The Finale!

Review of A.W.A.R.D. Show, Sunday, January 30th at On the Boards by Tucker C.

Sunday night at On the Boards, every seat in the house was packed in anticipation of the grand finale of The A.W.A.R.D. Show, a competition for Pacific Northwest choreographers. Twelve choreographers had entered, and for the previous three nights audiences had crowned a winner from among each group of four. Now, with the dirty work of selecting the finalists done, it was our job to sit back and enjoy an evening of spectacular dance before crowning the winner. And it was indeed spectacular.

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Punch Drunk and Dazzled

Review of All Tharp at Pacific Northwest Ballet by Tucker C.

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If PNB’s All Tharp is any indication, Twyla Tharp is clearly a woman with a lot to say. You sit down in the theatre, the curtain goes up, and All Tharp proceeds to grab you and shake you around in every direction. Until last night, I had never seen ballet danced as though drunk, groups of dancers swooping across the stage dressed as synchronized swimmers, or dancers mouthing words that definitely cannot be written on this blog, screaming silently at a captivated audience. Tharp’s work is a creature truly and markedly set apart from any other. It is a blend of the traditional, of the movie and the theatre, of the hidden story and dance for the sake of dance.

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Liquid Lightning

Review of 3 by Dove at Pacific Northwest Ballet by Tucker C

(Tucker asked if, instead of posting his review, we could just put a big star on the blog with "Go See This" on it. We're doing both.) Really, really cool things continue to happen over at PNB. This time it’s 3 by Dove, three ballets (as the name would suggest) by the choreographer Ulysses Dove. Spliced in between is a new work commissioned for the PNB by Victor Quijada, Suspension of Disbelief.

Pacific Northwest Ballet soloist Rachel Foster in Ulysses Dove’s Vespers. Photo © Angela Sterling

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