|PNB's 'Director's Choice' offers new works, past favorites|
|Written by Deborah Stone|
|Tuesday, 17 November 2009 11:36|
ShareThere was something for everyone in Pacific Northwest Ballet’s "Director’s Choice," a mixed repertory program that included one world premiere, a company premiere and the return of two hits from recent seasons.
For fans of Broadway musical theater dance, there was the ever-popular "West Side Story Suite," a spirited, jazzy group of numbers set to Leonard Bernstein’s well-known and beloved music.
For aficionados of more traditional ballet, there was Val Caniparoli’s "The Seasons," a neoclassical ballet with a pastoral theme.
And for those with a penchant for more contemporary fare, Jiri Kylian’s "Petite Mort" and Marco Goecke’s "Mopey" fit the bill. "Petite Mort," the program’s opener and a PNB premiere, immediately set the tone for an exciting evening of dance.
The choreography presents six men, six women and six fencing foils. The men whip their foils ferociously, producing a sharp hissing whir. They roll them around on the floor with their toes, balance them on their fingers and swish them overhead. The foils play the role of the men’s dancing partners and act as symbols of both aggression and sexuality.
A series of pas de deux follows, which expresses the realm of emotions that make up human desire, from tenderness and clumsy humor to vulnerability and violence. That is until six women in black baroque gowns glide in.
The women calmly step out of their "dresses" and send them rolling into the wings. They commence dancing with the men. Arms and legs intertwine and movements appear to flow into one another with a natural fluidity. Gravity-defying extensions provide the wow factor.
Kylian’s masterful choreography is sensual and very musical, designed to match the slow tempos of two of Mozart’s most beautiful piano concertos. And PNB dancers execute the movements with grace and style.
Set to an unusual coupling of music by C.P.E. Bach and the 80’s rock band The Cramps, "Mopey" is an expressionist portrait of an angry teenager acting out in his room. It’s a study in petulance and attitude and a display of the mercurial aspects of a youth’s temperament. Moore channeled all the emotions, while performing a series of frenetic movements that were both humorous and disturbing in nature. He alternated thumping his chest, scratching his back and flinging his hands and arms about in a palsied manner, with restless pacing or silent poses. He was the angst-ridden boy one minute and the epitome of coolness the next. His performance was riveting and one of the highlights of the evening.
Val Caniparoli’s "The Seasons," a world premiere, is an allegorical ballet with a pastoral theme. It is set to music by Russian composer Alexander Glazunov, who originally wrote it as a ballet score for choreographer Marius Petipa more than a century ago.
Over the years, the music survived, but Petipa’s choreography did not. Caniparoli, who was intrigued by the score’s history, discovered that this "lost" ballet had an existing scenario. He opted to use it as the structure for his piece. The ballet traces the seasons, beginning with winter and coming full circle to autumn. The evening of memorable dance ended with Robbins’ "West Side Story Suite," an iconic piece of Americana.
Up next for PNB is "Nutcracker," a Northwest holiday tradition, opening November 27. For ticket information: (206) 441-2424 or www.pnb.org.