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

The first thing that strikes you about Dove’s choreography is its force. There is no superfluous movement, no fluff, no extra space. Every action and motion has been chosen for a reason. The work is purposeful, filled with intent, and the dance is striking. Whirling, twisting, leaping across the stage, the dancers pour out powerful but controlled energy that you are quickly entranced by. Watching Dove’s choreography is like witnessing an organized tornado—every move is an expression of raw energy just barely controlled. Passion was Dove’s interest, and his works do marvelously at capturing its limitless ecstasy and spirit.

Pacific Northwest Ballet principal dancer Jonathan Porretta in Victor Quijada’s Suspension of Disbelief. Photo © Angela Sterling

3 by Dove makes you feel—there is energy, tension, force in everything. Some parts are almost hypnotic- the abrupt motions, changes in mood, glimpses of hidden narratives make you stop trying to figure out what was happening in Dove’s head, and more to just experience what is unfolding on the stage in front of you.

The first work, Vespers, is Dove’s tribute to memories of attending church with his grandmother. It serves well as an introduction to the world of Dove—dancers weave in and out of individual and group mentality, portraying different facets of religion, faith, and society in Dove’s stark style.

Red Angels, though, is where the excitement begins. Your attention is split between the four dancers in striking scarlet leotards weaving a complex tableau on stage, and the eerie thrill of the electric violinist standing offstage. It is truly not to be missed, and a dance experience in a class of its own. Suspension of Disbelief follows closely in the footsteps of Dove. Carrying that same hypnotic quality, it draws on hip hop and street dance to create a fluid, rippling flow that never lets up.

The show comes to a monumental finish with Serious Pleasures, which explores sexuality in an up-front but also very meaningful way. Captivating, stark, and often surreal, the dance is graphic without being vulgar, direct without being blunt, and (I guarantee) unlike anything you have seen.

I could write for a very, very long time about how very, very cool this was to see. 3 by Dove is liquid lightning, no doubt about it. The dancers revel in it, the audiences are fascinated by it, and it perhaps may be the high point of PNB’s season. Do not, under any circumstances, miss out on this.

- Tucker C.
March 18th, 2010

3 by Dove
Pacific Northwest Ballet
Through March 28th

For more on 3 by Dove, check out Tucker's interview with PNB dancer Laura Gilbreath, our Crush-of-the-Month!

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