A Graceful Collision Between New and Old

A review* of PNB's Emergence by Jessamyn G.

I am so thankful for the opportunity to go to Pacific Northwest Ballet’s Emergence. The program featured four contrasting pieces, each of which were incredibly unique, and brought a different tonality to the theater.

To begin the program, the curtain opened up to a piece titled Sum Stravinsky choreographed by Kiyon Gaines, that made its world premiere in 2012. I found it to be an excellent way to introduce the program. It is exactly what one imagines when they think of ballet–while the following pieces were extraordinarily unique and contemporary. The set and costumes are composed of shades of blue, and have a sort of delicacy to them. The dancers movements feel newly classic and youthful. I got a sense of innocence and nostalgia watching this piece.

The piece following was also very classic but in a different sense. Called The Calling, it is a solo piece with the dancer consumed from the waist down in a long toga­like skirt draping from their body out onto the stage. With each movement, the fabric folds twisted and distorted around their body. With music from the Middle Ages, I felt immersed in a new level of classicism. The composition displays the individualism and strength within the human body, and empowerment in singularity. The movements are contemporary: fluidity in the arms while straining against the atmosphere. It is a graceful collision between new and old, and an evolution of the power in individualism.

The third dance makes its world premiere in this year’s Emergence program. It is called Signature, choreographed by Price Suddarth. Different from any other piece I have seen, the stage lights hang low to the point of visibility. Over the course of the dance they move up and down from the top of the stage. This piece showcases the beauty within the human body, and within the relationships we build with one another. I felt a sense of unity among all the dancers, and yet they were each expelling their own individual spirit. In a way, this one was a little more pedestrian. Perhaps it was the way the lights were hanging, or maybe the energy coming from the stage, but I felt as though there was a greater relationship between the art and the audience. It didn't make dance feel as inaccessible as it usually does from the audience's standpoint. It was a welcoming environment—the dancers wanted you to be engaged in their artform.

Emergence is the most impressionable piece of art that I have seen. The possibilities of analysis are endless, and I am still considering the meaning behind the movements. This is a true work of art in its intention, and impact on every individual in the audience. It makes the ugly beautiful, and chaos meticulous. The backdrop of the dance is a thick wall with a circular hole in the center. There are black feather­like gashes painted on the wall dispersed from the center to the outer edges. Over the course of the piece, I observed a singular weak consciousness that evolves into a multitude of being and power. The dancers multiply and congregate with an animalistic presence, moving with birdlike movements and flocking paths of travel. Amidst the raw and beautifully unpleasant score, there are harsh whispers of consecutive numbers "one, two, three, four..." that correspond with a particular movement. There is such a strong sense of united character within Emergence. Within the composition I felt entangled in a perpetual internal struggle of being. In the end, with all that is within the consciousness, only one emerges through the hole in the backdrop.

I am overly satisfied with what I saw on the stage in Emergence. This program not only left a lasting impression on me, but served as inspiration for all the art forms that I want to pursue. It also broadened the lense that I look through when examining art.

I am excited to continue to use TeenTix to go to events like this; I encourage you to see any one of these pieces if the opportunity comes again!

*Please note, this is a user-submitted review, not an Official TeenTix Press Corps review*

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