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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, June 7, 2013 - Volume 41 Issue 23
A spectacular finish - Director's Choice is the perfect ending to PNB's 40th season
Arts & Entertainment
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A spectacular finish - Director's Choice is the perfect ending to PNB's 40th season

by Milton W. Hamlin - SGN A&E Writer

PACIFIC NORTHWEST BALLET
McCAW HALL
Through June 9


Pacific Northwest Ballet ends its 40th season with an incredible trio of works. Two classics by George Balanchine anchor the spectacular evening, which also features a world premiere by Christopher Wheeldon.

This trio of audience-pleasers continues through Sunday's matinee - the perfect ending to a perfect anniversary year.

AGON CHALLENGES
Agon is the true dance challenge of the evening. Francia Russell, who performed in the original world premiere back in 1957, restages the masterpiece for PNB. It was the highlight of PNB's Valentine's Day visit to New York's City Center, where it literally stopped the show. SGN and this scribe were the only Seattle-area media to cover it.

The historic photo shows it all. Caught in the exhaustion of rehearsal, the frustration of creativity, Russell is slumped on the floor, obviously challenged as a young dancer with the complexities of Agon. Behind her at the piano are Balanchine and Igor Stravinsky, who was commissioned to write the now world-famous score. It is a true rehearsal shot. Sweat stains the dancer's costume. Frustration dominates the creators' facial expressions. And it sums up creativity in a single, award-winning photo. An iconic moment in modern dance captured for the ages.

Russell, that young dancer, is a co-founder of PNB with her husband, Kent Stowell. Their 2005 retirement and the arrival of Peter Boal, PNB's incredibly talented current artistic director, was a milestone for PNB and the Seattle arts community generally. To think that Seattle has a direct contact with the Master, as Mr. B. was always called, living here - what a great story that is.

DIAMONDS SHIMMERS
Balanchine's Diamonds is the third and final part of Mr. B.'s Jewels. It is a classic all-white ballet - Tutu Heaven, it might be called - a whirlwind of shimmering white-on-white, perfection en pointe, an 'Everything Was Beautiful at the Ballet' moment from A Chorus Line. 'Handsome men lift lovely girls in white' time. One word: Incredible.

TIDE HARMONIC PREMIERES
Like all the arts, ballet and PNB truly 'look to the future through the past, ' an oft-quoted philosophical comment popularized again in 1976 as part of the American Bicentennial celebration. It certainly applies here. Will Tide Harmonic be Agon in 60 years? Will it soar to brief popularity and then fade quickly? Or will it quietly continue as a notable work from a major modern choreographer?

Like many premieres, it requires a second viewing to make intelligent observations and write insightful reviews. Since that has never stopped many ballet critics, SGN and this scribe simply say it's well worth seeing. As part of the masterworks revival for PNB's final 40th anniversary year program, it is the perfect 'something new' to this bright, audience-pleasing presentation. For further details and tickets, visit www.pnb.org. Be sure to tell the terrific box office staff that SGN sent ya.

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