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BWW Review: PACIFIC NORTHWEST BALLET'S ALL DIGITAL SEASON, REP 4 Filmed at McCaw Hall

Streaming from April 1st through April 5th

BWW Review: PACIFIC NORTHWEST BALLET'S ALL DIGITAL SEASON, REP 4 Filmed at McCaw Hall

PNB's all-digital season continues with Rep 4, a varied and enjoyable triple bill that streams from April 1st to April 5th 2021. Digital ticket holders can watch as many times as they like until the link expires. https://www.pnb.org/season/rep4/

The opener, after a charming behind-the-scenes peek entitled "5 Minute Call", is "And the sky is not cloudy all day". A World Premiere by choreographer Donald Byrd, this piece is danced by six men in cowboy attire designed by Doris Black complete with hats and boots. The title, of course, comes from the lyrics for the traditional song "Home, home on the range", and at one point the words are sung. Byrd's program notes say: "Little boys of my generation played 'Cowboys and Indians.' Because of what I saw on TV and in movies, I wanted to be like the men depicted in those visual narratives. For me the West as myth pulled at my notions of masculinity . . . As a boy, the racial implications of that want had not dawned on me." Even so, the PNB premiere is sheer pleasure, with the upstage curtains partially opened to reveal a Western vista and the dancers alternately entering and exiting through it. A bit of video magic - one of the upsides of a digital season - lets us feel as though the cowboys really are going into the scene. As for the choreography, which has moments that for me were clear nods to Agnes de Mille's "Rodeo", it's a fun and high-flying showcase for the considerable talents and skills of the PNB men. The music, by minimalist composer John Adams, seemed jarring to me at first but I warmed to it as the piece continued.

"Future Memory", by PNB's current Resident Choreographer Alejandro Cerrudo to music by multiple composers, is up next. Danced barefoot in spare costumes by both the men and the women, it is decidedly contemporary as well as outright acrobatic. As such, it is an ideal contrast to the opener and shows that PNB's dancers are well-versed in a range of dance disciplines.

The closer is an archival video from 1917 of Alex Ratmansky's "Pictures at an Exhibition" to the music of Modest Mussorgky. This wise choice of programming allowed us to see a pre-COVID large group of dancers who are not socially distanced. There is no program note to that effect, but I'm guessing that was the intent. The ladies wore floaty chiffon by Adeline André and pointe shoes. The partnering with the men was satisfyingly classical.

Check the link I gave you above to see some extras that are offered along with the streaming. Like all balletomanes, I do miss being in a theater surrounded by the energy of other fans. However, PNB has created a digital alternative that is second to none. Don't miss this offering in the current season!


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