|PNB dancers shine in evening of diverse dance|
|Written by Deborah Stone|
The highlight of Pacific Northwest Ballet’s "Contemporary 4," the fourth program in the company’s 2010-2011 season, was the local premiere of critically acclaimed Russian choreographer Alexei Ratmansky’s "Concerto DSCH." Set to a robust score by Dmitri Shostakovich, this neoclassical piece is a delightful blend of virtuoso dance and musicality that exudes warmth and joy. It’s an effervescent romp showcasing jaw-dropping technique and artistry. Dancers filled the stage with vibrant motion in this bold and emotionally resonant ballet, executing Ratmansky’s intricate and highly nuanced steps with great skill and elegance.
There were dreamy swoops and breathless lifts, soaring leaps and whirling turns, along with a variety of quirky, playful movements that gave the number a hearty dose of wit.
Though there’s no real narrative to the piece, the dancers related to one another as if they were in a story.
They partnered up, flirted with each other, competed for attention and displayed sparks of jealousy, as well as moments of passion.
Of special note were principal dancers Carrie Imler, Carla Korbes, Batkhurel Bold, Karel Cruz and Seth Orza, who together with a strong corps brought Ratmansky’s brilliant choreography to life.
Their efforts were supported by a talented pit, led by Allan Dameron and featuring Duane Hulbert on piano. "Contemporary 4" also included the world premiere, "Place a Chill," from choreographer Marco Goecke. Set to Camille Saint-Saens’ "Cello Concerto No. 1," the work is an ensemble piece for ten dancers featuring Goecke’s idiosyncratic and expressionist style of choreography. Comprised of primarily shar
p, spasmodic and jittery upper body movements, the dance had an edgy, unsettling quality to it.
The dancers rose to the level of the demands of this challenging choreography, performing the various contortioned moves with extreme speed, extraordinary precision and perfect synchronicity.
Together with the darkened stage, they created an eerie underworld that although mesmerizing and electric at times became taxing and tedious to watch. "Mark Morris’ "Pacific" and Paul Gibson’s "The Piano Dance" rounded out the program.
Both numbers, which have been seen before, looked fresh and better than ever. "Pacific" resonated with serenity and a quiet power that manifested itself in flowing, elegant movements, reminiscent of waves on the ocean.
And Gibson’s "The Piano Dance" is a beautifully crafted number comprised of a series of solos, duets and pas de trois for four couples. It is the ideal showcase for PNB dancers, particularly Lesley Rausch and Seth Orza, whose pas de deux was performed with vibrant energy and sheer abandon.
Up next for PNB is Balanchine’s "A Midsummer Night’s Dream," opening April 8th, followed by Artistic Director Peter Boal’s World Premiere staging of "Giselle" (June 3-12). For ticket information: (206) 441-2424 or www.pnb.org.