Northwest NEWS

February 14, 2000


PNB program showcases wide range of challenging choreography

by Deborah Stone

   Pacific Northwest Ballet's February program is a mixed bill of pieces designed to showcase the technical talents of the company's dancers. The variety of choreography challenges the dancers and stimulates the audience, as it presents differing artistic viewpoints.

   Dutch choreographer Rudi van Dantzig's Ginastera is an abstract ballet set to music by Alberto Ginastera and performed by a string quartet. Dancers in austere purple and blue costumes make rapid turns and leaps, changing direction suddenly.

   The movements are sharp, with plenty of contractions, interesting shapes, and poses. This is a piece for the men to show their strength and test their limits, and they easily rise to the challenge. Ginastera is energetic and playful, yet there is an element of tension to this ballet that gives it added drama.

   Of particular note are Seth Belliston and Ariana Lallone. Belliston continues to delight audiences with his infectious charm, swiftness, and ability to leap for the stars. Lallone has beautiful extension and dances with emotion and presence.

   In The Quilt, by Lynne Taylor-Corbett, dancers express feelings of loss and anguish as they explore the emotional territory of the AIDS epidemic. Premiered here in 1996, The Quilt mixes ballet, jazz, and modern styles in a patchwork of color and motion.

   Dancers wrap around each other in a blanket of grief. Others are lifted and dropped in spectacular fashion. This is a piece that bares its soul and allows the dancers to convey feelings of pain and confusion. It is compelling to watch

   The grand finale of the evening is Balanchine's Ballet Imperial, set to music by Tchaikovsky. This ballet is done in a Russian classical style and is the choreographer's tribute to the imperial court of St. Petersburg. It is a technically demanding work that allows PNB dancers to show off their razor-sharp, precise movements and linear form.

   The women shine in this ballet as they perform in perfect unison, while carrying themselves in a manner befitting a regal court. Patricia Barker is elegant, as always, but her partner, Stanko Milov, is a bit overbearing and heavy on his feet.

   Up next for the company is a mixed repertory program entitled Bach and Beyond, due to open March 16. For ticket information, call 206-292-ARTS.