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BWW Review: PACIFIC NORTHWEST BALLET REP 2 2021: “BEYOND BALLET”

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Digital from November 18th to 22nd

BWW Review: PACIFIC NORTHWEST BALLET REP 2 2021: “BEYOND BALLET”

Because the Pacific Northwest Ballet is an eminently versatile company with dancers equally adept at classical ballet and contemporary styles, the Rep 2 title "Beyond Ballet" led me to expect to see strictly contemporary choreography. What a wonderful surprise to find instead that this triple bill by three choreographers -- all with worldwide acclaim -- served up superlative dancing that not only shows off the dancers' impeccable ballet technique, including fouettés on pointe for the ladies and multiple pirouettes for the gentlemen, but also offers decidedly satisfying non-balletic moves created in the unique voices of the dancemakers. (A minor quibble: I must admit that I would have chosen "Ballet and Beyond" as a more accurate and enticing title.)

Rep 2 was performed live at Seattle's McCaw Hall from November 5th to 7th 2021. The digital version is streaming from November 18th to 22nd 2021. The opener, "Dancing on the Front Porch of Heaven" by Ulysses Dove to music by Arvo Pärt, is subtitled "Odes to Love and Loss". Regarding his motive, Dove said, "To me, Arvo Pärt's music can send souls to heaven. I want to tell an experience in movement, a story without words, and create a poetic monument over people I loved." He most certainly succeeded. Three couples, all clad in white unitards, move to the music that includes sounds like church bells. Yes, I got goosebumps.

Next up, is "Ghost Variations" by Jessica Lang to selections of music by Robert Schumann and Clara Schumann. According to the choreographer's program notes, Robert Schumann's 1854 composition entitled "Ghost Variations" was "the last work he ever wrote, just prior to being committed to an asylum for insanity. Schumann believed he was being haunted by composers from the grave who were dictating the theme to him -- forgetting he had already written it himself". Cue more goosebumps! Lang also mentions that she created "Ghost Variations" in August 2020 during the global COVID epidemic, but that she wanted to make a ballet that would translate to a live performance rather than merely being conceived as a dance film. She not only succeeded, but in fact created a piece that is all the richer for having ingeniously incorporated the protocols of the pandemic.

The closer is the PNB premiere of Alonzo King's "The Personal Element" to the music of Jason Moran. Notes from the Alonzo King LINES Ballet, which premiered the piece on August 3rd 2019 with dancers from Alonzo King LINES Ballet and New York City Ballet for the Vail Dance Festival, say that the piece "with a bright yet uncomplicated set and elegant costuming . . .allows the focus to remain on the choreography and the expertise of the company. The interplay of Moran's piano and the dancers' movement is a poetic invitation, encouraging each individual viewer to make their own personal connection with the piece."

Tempted to see all of this for yourself? Click here: https://order.pnb.org/22-digital/beyond-ballet/ Or maybe subscribe to the rest of the digital season that includes as a bonus PNB's digital presentation of George Balanchine's The Nutcracker®? Click here: https://order.pnb.org/packages/fixed/996 You'll be glad you did!

Photo: Angela Sterling Photography


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From This Author Sondra Forsyth