June 10, 2002
Going Out: PNB wraps up season with an eclectic mix of 'Song and Dance'
by Deborah Stone
Arts and Entertainment
Pacific Northwest Ballet wraps up its 2001-2002 season with "Song and Dance," a trio of ballets featuring the world premiere of Donald Byrd's "Seven Deadly Sins," the Seattle premiere of Lynne Taylor-Corbett's "Ballad of You and Me" and the return of Kent Stowell's "Hail to the Conquering Hero."
It is an ambitious program that brings to life a variety of emotions and issues within the realm of the human experience, including the struggle for racial equality, temptation, salvation and spiritual need.
The opener, "Hail to the Conquering Hero." is stylish and flowing, featuring a moving performance by the Seattle Choral Company singing works by Handel.
The dancers, in Mark Zappone's lovely costumes, sweep across the stage lit by a sky of soft blue and pink. They take the audience through a series of episodes, from struggle and desperation to salvation and exaltation, showing a marvelous classical flair that makes the number a work of art.
Byrd's highly anticipated "Seven Deadly Sins," is an edgy, new take on choreographer George Balanchine's 1933 piece, to a score by composer Kurt Weill and lyrics by playwright Bertolt Brecht.
It is a strikingly dramatic ballet that offers sharp social commentary, while exploring the themes of lust and greed. Patricia Barker is the ballet's heroine, Anna, who sets out on a seven year journey to earn enough money for her parents to build a suitable house back home. She travels to seven cities and discovers a different sin in each one, eventually selling her body, heart and soul in the process.
Byrd's work focuses on the decadence of Berlin in the 1930s and utilizes the talents of Seattle jazz singer Greta Matassa who sings the role of Anna's alter ego.
Barker dances with wild abandon, projecting her character's vulnerability and innocence, as well as utter despair. This is a harsh number that is, at times, vulgar and coarse. It has an unsettling and disturbing effect that lingers long after the program concludes.
The last number, Lynne Taylor-Corbett's "Ballad of You and Me," is a celebration of the life and music of notable folksinger Pete Seeger. It is a multimedia work for sixteen dancers, utilizing eleven of Seeger's recorded songs, and performed against a background of projected slide images that depict the social and political issues of the 1960s.
Seeger's own commentary on these issues is effectively woven in this creative sound collage.
"Ballad" is a rousing tribute to a folk song legend, which includes a variety of solos, duets and ensembles performed with exuberance and athleticism by PNB dancers. "Song and Dance" concluded June 8.
Over the summer, the company will travel to London to perform at Sadler's Wells Theatre.
For information about PNB's upcoming 2002-2003 season, call (206) 292-ARTS or access the company's web site at www.pnb.org.