April 13, 1998


Riveting 'Rassemblement' highlights PNB

  by Deborah Stone

   As part of its Silver Anniversary Season, Pacific Northwest Ballet continues to showcase new works by exciting and innovative choreographers. Through April 18th, the company is performing Repertory V which features world premieres by Ballanchine-inspired choreographers Miriam Mahdaviani and Donald Byrd and a PNB premiere commissioned from Spanish choreographer Nacho Duato.
   It is a program of great contrast and a night of memorable dance experience. The highlight is Duato's "Rassemblement," a work of intensity and passion, inspired by songs of resistance from African slaves and set to music by Haitian composer Toto Bissainthe. The movements are weighted and earthy, each one vividly expressing powerful emotions. The choreography is based on a Caribbean style and danced by eight barefoot dancers dressed in tattered clothing. It is a deep cry for freedom which resonates through each uniquely choreographed step and motion.
   The audience responded to "Rassemblement" with a standing ovation, wildly cheering their approval at the depth and passion evoked by this dance. In contrast, Byrd's "Capricious Nights" is a mixture of purely classical with modern and jazz elements combined. Using William Bolcom's "Violin Concerto" and set against a New York skyline, the ballet is a poetic glance at men-women flirtations. Hints of mischief and humor are skillfully interwined in Byrd's demanding choreography.
   Miriam Mahdaviani's "And Then Again" is the least effective of the two contrast pieces. Steve Reich's score is repetitious and grating and although there are some interesting movements that create a loose and easy feeling, the steps fail to bring sense to the whole work. With "Rassemblement" and "Capricious Nights," PNB dancers get the opportunity to showcase their amazing versality and willingness to take risks.
   To conclude the season, PNB will present "Silver Lining," a new full-length, Broadway-style production choreographed by Artistic Director Kent Stowell, May 26-30 and June 5-6. For ticket information, call 206-292-ARTS.