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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, October 1, 2010 - Volume 38 Issue 40
Director's Choice opens PNB's 2010 season
Arts & Entertainment
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Director's Choice opens PNB's 2010 season

by Milton W. Hamlin - SGN A&E Writer

Director's Choice
Pacific Northwest
Ballet
Through October 3


Pacific Northwest Ballet opened its 2010-2011 season last week with the four-part Director's Choice, giving PNB audiences two established works and two new-to-PNB premieres. In every dimension, Director's Choice was an outstanding success. Performances continue through Sunday this weekend. Highest recommendation.

A revival of Jiri Kylian's Petite Mort opened the evening. The 1991 works entered PNB's repertoire last season and was an immediate hit. Danced to music by Mozart, the short work features classical figures, powdered wigs, tongue-in-cheek stand-alone black dresses, propelled at times by the dancers, sometimes by sheer magic. Add fencing foils, serious fencing, clever choreography, and you have an instant audience favorite. The satirical edge is established by the title (a slightly naughty pun on the French concept of sexual climax - 'a little death') and ?continues through the work for six couples with lengthy individual and group sequences. The spirited work is a winner in all aspects.

The second work was the premiere of another work by the same choreographer. Six Dances (officially Sechs Tanze) is, amazingly, an earlier work for Kylian's Nederlands Dans Theater. This 1986 piece, staged here to follow Petite Mort, seemed to be a sequel until close reading of the program revealed it to be the first creation. The stand-alone black dresses, the fencing foils, the powered wigs, the Mozart selections seem to unite the two works. It will be interesting to see if PNB stages a revival of both works in a coming season, but programs them in chronological sequence. Most of the audience reacted to Six Dances as a sequel - it will be great fun to see it as the first of the two works.

Jardi Tancat was work number three. A 1983 creation, also from Nederlands Dans Theater, the work has been a Seattle favorite since it was introduced here in 1996. Choreographed by Nacho Duato, Jardi Tancat (which translates as 'closed garden') is a planting celebration, an extended plea for rain for the harvest. Danced to songs based on Catalonian folktales, composed and sung (on recording) by Maria del Mar Bonet, the work is a cry for help from a desperate people.

Glass Pieces, the second new-to-PNB work on the current bill, features choreography by Jerome Robbins. It was created for the New York City Ballet in 1983, and Peter Boal, PNB's current artistic director, was in the original work as a young dancer. A full-company work, the work is hard to evaluate on a single, first viewing, but it was clearly a success with the opening-night audience. The repetitive nature of Glass' trademarked compositions finds the corps de ballet rushing across the stage or in a single line at the back of the stage with the women repeating a stylized movement as the three major couples take center-stage focus. The white grid of the set design seemed a perfect visualization of the Glass selections.

Director's Choice continues with performances this weekend through Sunday. Next on PNB's fall schedule is an All (Twyla) Tharp program, November 5-14. Ticket information on all PNB programs is available at (206) 441-2424 or at www.pnb.org .

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