Go Ahead. Try Not To Love It.

Review of Contemporary 4 @ Pacific Northwest Ballet by Safaa D.

Oh, dear! Is it possible not to like a PNB production? I shall attempt to give as clear and honest a review as possible without gushing like some crazed female fan after a Justin Bieber concert.

Pacific Northwest Ballet principal dancers Carla Körbes and Olivier Wevers in Mark Morris’s Pacific. Photo © Angela Sterling

The evening’s performance begins with Pacific, a piece by our own Seattle man Mark Morris.
His normally turbulent stage is settled somewhat by this dance, which is meant to evoke a sense of the sea and native Pacific islanders. The flowing costumes give it a light graceful feel, and the sharp precision that ballet dancers train years to perfect is replaced with floppy, seemingly less controlled movements, characteristic of Morris.

Pacific Northwest Ballet corps de ballet dancers Ezra Thomson and Margaret Mullin in Marco Goecke’s Place a Chill. Photo © Angela Sterling

The next performance brings us to the darker, more scrupulously choreographed Place a Chill. Marco Goeke (pronounced GO-KEE) returns to us with his new work based on the story of a talented cellist whose career and life were cut short when a disease caused her to lose control over her limbs and core. Goeke has the dancers twitching, jerking and waving. Men and women in gray flannel pants and ballroom shoes resolutely use every limb and digit in this very physical dance. Though not what I would call visually stunning I enjoyed the simple yet dramatic presentation. It was also the perfect contrast to the next performance: The loud, the red, The Piano Dance.

Pacific Northwest Ballet soloist Chalnessa Eames and corps de ballet dancer Josh Spell in Paul Gibson’s The Piano Dance. Photo © Angela Sterling

Set to the score of five different composers, a piano lends music to this daring and physically challenging piece. The raciest of the four, this dance twirls through pas de trois. Complex lifts captivate the audience. The rouged smiles and snakelike maneuvers give this piece an almost burlesque feel, though with the grace and litheness of ballet. It is an unforgettable performance and a wonderful build up to Alexei Ratmansky’s ballet.

Pacific Northwest Ballet principal dancers Karel Cruz and Carla Körbes in Alexei Ratmansky’s Concerto DSCH. Photo © Angela Sterling

On to the last dance by the choreographer I most looked forward to this night. Concerto DSCH is set to the score of Dmitri Shostakovich (remember the Steadfast Tin Soldier’s music in Fantasia 2000?) and quite deserving of the grand finale. It is a spectacular dance that takes you from the sexy eight person Piano Dance to a rollicking full stage of dancers leaping higher and higher!

The compilation of grace, darkness, light, and classic never lets your mind wander.
If you want a smorgasbord of different styles, maybe introduce yourself or someone to ballet, grab your tickets and meet me in the house for Contemporary 4!

Contemporary 4
Pacific Northwest Ballet
Through March 27

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