(Photo: Pacific Northwest Ballet corps de ballet dancer
Brittany Reid (in yellow, front) and company dancers in
Divertimento from “Le Baiser de la Fée,” choreography by
George Balanchine © the George Balanchine Trust.
Photo © Angela Sterling)
(Pacific Northwest Ballet corps de ballet dancers
Jerome Tisserand and Kylee Kitchens in Jerome Robbins’
Afternoon of a Faun. Photo © Angela Sterling)
George Balanchine’s Divertimento from “Le Baiser de la Fée” and Jerome Robbins’s iconic Afternoon of a Faun were the only ballets to be presented in full, with principals Kaori Nakamura and Jonathan Porretta dancing the lead roles in Divertimento, displaying superb technique and appropriate aplomb. Divertimentocontained some of Balanchine’s most wicked choreography, arranging the classical steps in the most extraordinarily difficult sequences imaginable, and yet Nakamura and Porretta wove through them effortlessly in delight. Though Divertimento contained no narrative, there were moments of intimacy in the central pas de deux and of loss in the final moments, with Nakamura and Porretta drifting away from each other in deep backbends as a poignant final image. Robbins’s Faun, however, was something of a stretch to fit the theme of “love,” as it is clearly an odyssey into narcissism rather than any sort of romance. Kylee Kitchens and Jerome Tisserand danced the gossamer pas de deux in spectral fashion, eyes locked not on each other but on the imaginary fourth wall serving as a dance studio mirror. The couple was breathtakingly haunting, mesmerized by their visages and enamored with vanity.
|Pacific Northwest Ballet principal dancers
Lucien Postlewaite and Carrie Imler in the
Black Swan pas de deux from Kent Stowell’s Swan Lake.
Photo © Angela Sterling
The extracted works included the ‘Balcony Pas de Deux’ from Jean-Christophe Maillot’s Roméo et Juliette, ‘Aurora’s Wedding’ from The Sleeping Beauty, and the ubiquitous ‘Black Swan Pas de Deux’ from Swan Lake. The dancing in Roméo et Juliette and Swan Lake was sublime but also problematic—the chemistry between Lucien Postlewaite and Kaori Nakamura as Shakespeare’s star-crossed lovers verged on tangibility, with Maillot’s choreography as a daring, genuine portrayal of young teenagers, but without the full story and the tragedy at the end, the audience was reduced to chuckles at the cuter moments in a duet that could easily move one to tears with its innocence and beauty. In contrast, the ‘Black Swan Pas de Deux’ was the complete opposite—bold, lustful, and oddly having little to do with love. Postlewaite pulled double duty in another princely role, dancing with regality and elegance, but Carrie Imler’s commanding presence dominated the stage (as is customary for Odile). Imler was the initiator in the game of cat-and-mouse, so sinister at times one believed that she was the mastermind sorcerer behind the plot to deceive Prince Siegfried, and not Von Rothbart. Powering through the pas de deux with an attack exclusively hers, she showed impeccable balance and control throughout. The only tragedy here was that Imler could not dance Odette as well, because underscoring the contrast between the White and Black Swans is what ballerinas’ dreams are made of and what makes Swan Lake so spectacular. Regardless, Imler and Postlewaite received the only and (well deserved) standing ovation of the night.