Northwest NEWS

January 18, 1999

Entertainment

Local dancers to make their London debut with PNB

Craig Hall

Kristen Towbin

Craig Hall.

Kristen Towbin.
by Deborah Stone

   Pacific Northwest Ballet will make its London debut in February as the first American company to perform at the newly-renovated Sadler's Wells Theatre. The company will perform Balanchine's A Midsummer Night's Dream, as well as a mixed repertory of works by respected American choreographers.

   Another unprecedented first for PNB is its decision to send its own school students overseas to dance in A Midsummer Night's Dream. "Our company and our school are among the best in the world, and we are excited to bring both to Sadler's Wells," said Francia Russell, artistic director and director of PNB School.

   Twenty-eight children, ages ten to fourteen, have been chosen after a competitive audition process to dance the roles of bugs in the performances. Two of the children, Kristen Towbin and Craig Hall, are from Woodinville, and both attend fourth grade at Woodmoor Elementary School.

   Kristen has been studying ballet for seven years and has danced with PNB in The Nutcracker for the past two years. She takes three classes a week and is committed to becoming a professional dancer.

   Kristen says, "Ballet is so beautiful. It has such gracefulness and I love doing the different movements. It's also given me a lot of discipline."

   PNB Company dancers have encouraged Kristen to keep working hard and she finds their words helpful and encouraging. "They've been so nice to me and I really like talking to them and hearing about their experiences. My favorite dancer is Leah Belliston. She dances so beautifully," Kristen said.

   The Towbin family hopes to accompany Kristen to London for the one-week tour. Her mother, Katherine, says, "This is such a wonderful opportunity for Kristen, and we want to enjoy it with her, if at all possible. She has been working hard and her commitment and enthusiasm have really grown over the past year."

   As for Kristen, London is a place she's always dreamed of visiting. She says, "I'm so excited about going to see London and being able to dance on stage at the theatre."

   For Craig Hall, the London trip represents a step in the direction of becoming a professional dancer. He comments, "My goal is to be a professional ballet dancer, and going to London gives me the opportunity to gain more stage experience. It's also going to be so cool!"

   Craig has studied dance for five years and also attends class three times a week. He has been in The Nutcracker for the past two years and will be dancing in PNB's upcoming ballet, Cinderella.

   According to Craig, ballet has improved his endurance, kept him in good physical shape, and given him discipline and focus. He says, "I like the challenges it has and it feels good to work on a movement for a long time and then be able to do it."

   Although he is committed to ballet, Craig also finds time to explore his other interests, which include playing basketball, chess, and doing Taekwondo.

   His father, Paul Hall says, "Whatever my son takes on, he does with a commitment. Ballet has given him a lot of discipline that spreads over into everything else he does."

   Craig's mother, Lisa Hall, and his sister Alicia (also a dancer) plan to accompany him to London.