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PNB’s Encore Celebrates Eight Departing Dancers

By Rosie Gaynor

Chalnessa Eames and Josh Spell in
Paul Gibson’s The Piano Dance
Photo by Angela Sterling.

Pacific Northwest Ballet’s Season Encore Performance on June 12 includes only one piece that is a repeat from the 2010/2011 season at home: Petite Mort. Instead, much of the program seems to have been chosen to feature PNB dancers who are leaving this season. One might be able to guess just from the program which dancers are departing. It includes Agon, Carmen, Lambarena, Monster, Nine Sinatra Songs, Red Angels, Rubies, Rushed Goodbye, Slaughter on Tenth Avenue, and Who Cares?

No guessing is necessary, however, as PNB announced last week that dancers Stanko Milov, Olivier Wevers, Chalnessa Eames, Barry Kerollis, and Josh Spell will leave the company at the end of the season. This is in addition to Ariana Lallone, Jeffrey Stanton, and Stacy Lowenberg, whose departures were announced earlier.

Some of these dancers elected to leave; others’ contracts were not renewed. Regardless of the reasons, however, the result is the same: a tremendous loss. Here, in alphabetical order, during this tax season, is the itemized claims form of Seattle’s 2011 losses:
#1—Chalnessa Eames: Wit, strength, character—in such varied pieces as her Piano Dance waltz, In the Upper Room, Suspension of Disbelief, and Sleeping Beauty. If there were such a thing as “true grit” in ballet, that would be Eames. Her dancing is natural, as though she were having a conversation with the audience and her fellow dancers.

#2—Barry Kerollis: A crucial member of the Golden Era of the PNB Men’s Corps, when they moved as one body, with one overwhelming wave of energy. An all-arounder, Kerollis could handle solos, too, providing classical fireworks as Mercutio, musical grace in A Garden, forceful sexuality in Serious Pleasures, and oozy boneless-ness in Suspension of Disbelief.

#3—Ariana Lallone: Passion and presence—it’s no wonder Kent Stowell set his Carmen on her. And who could ever forget her long limbs flashing in Rubies and Artifact II? Or the focus and fluidity of her intensely emotional Lambarena, Rassemblement, and Jardí Tancat, where she loses herself in the dance and takes the audience with her.

#4—Stacy Lowenberg: Charm, humor, sparkle—Whether in her graceful, noble Titania or her wild-child in Time and Other Matter, her intrinsic charm and humor sparked and sparkled, reaching across the footlights. As was evident in her performance in Torque, Lowenberg can convey more character with the tilt of her head than many can in their entire faces. (Rushed Goodbye, which is on the Encore program, is one of the pieces she has choreographed.)

#5—Stanko Milov: This princely jumper hasn’t been on PNB’s stage for a year or so, due to arm and hip injuries. Even before that, however, he actually wasn’t seen on the stage much of all—he was more often soaring somewhere above it. His energy, when grounded in works like Dancing on the Front Porch of Heaven, was huge and all-encompassing.

#6—Josh Spell: Such a clean, neat dancer! Spell was another crucial member of the Golden Era of the PNB Men’s Corps and he could hold the stage in solo roles as well. He was elegant, amiable, and sometimes even both at the same time, as in his Benvolio. His sailor in On the Town was irresistible.

#7—Jeffrey Stanton: Joined PNB in 1994, made soloist in 1995, promoted to principal in 1996… Since then, he has been a prince of partners, making his leading women look fabulous, night after night after night. His Apollo was commanding. And when he could bust out into tap or soft shoe, it was clear he was one with the muse.

#8—Olivier Wevers: Elegant, precise, musical, and—as was seen in his Roméo et Juliette—capable of making the entire stage seem an extension of his inner thoughts. He not only took care of his partners, but he knew how to make the space in between fraught with emotion. (Monster, which is on the Encore program, is one of the pieces he has choreographed.)

There are rumors about where these dancers will be next season. A few facts float up to the top, however. Some will stay in Seattle. Some plan not to. A few may teach at PNB. Lallone joins Teatro ZinZanni for their fall show. Lowenberg will continue to teach Pilates and will dance locally. Wevers will focus on his successful two-year-old company, Whim W’Him.

In the meantime, Peter Boal, head of PNB, is busy auditioning for these eight positions, all of which he plans to fill. Next season, there’ll be eight new bios on the PNB website. It is a hard, sad fact of ballet life that the following eight bios will be deleted. So, here they are, below, as a conclusion to this article, quoted, for posterity.

Chalnessa Eames is from Bellingham, Washington. She trained at Harid Conservatory in Boca Raton and the School of Royal Winnipeg Ballet and attended Pacific Northwest Ballet School’s summer course. She joined Royal Winnipeg Ballet in 1996 and joined Pacific Northwest Ballet as a member of the corps de ballet in 2001. She was promoted to soloist in 2007.

Barry Kerollis is from Downingtown, Pennsylvania. He trained on full scholarship at the Kirov Academy in Washington, DC, and the School of American Ballet. He attended summer courses at American Ballet Theatre, Cynthia Gregory’s Hampton Dance Festival, Houston Ballet, and the School of American Ballet. Mr. Kerollis joined American Ballet Theatre in 2003. Later that year, he joined Houston Ballet. In 2004, he joined Pacific Northwest Ballet as a member of the corps de ballet.

Ariana Lallone is from Woodland Hills, California. She trained at the Rozann-Zimmerman Ballet Center and on scholarship at Pacific Northwest Ballet School. She joined Pacific Northwest Ballet as an apprentice in 1987 and was promoted to corps de ballet in 1988. In 1993, she was promoted to soloist and became a principal in 1994.

Stacy Lowenberg is from Bettendorf, Iowa. She trained on scholarship with Melissa Hayden at North Carolina School of the Arts and at Pacific Northwest Ballet School. She attended summer courses at the School of American Ballet, Boston Ballet, and Hungarian National Ballet. She joined Pacific Northwest Ballet as an apprentice in 1994. In 1996, Ms. Lowenberg joined Oregon Ballet Theatre. She returned to PNB as a member of the corps de ballet in 1999.

Stanko Milov is from Sofia, Bulgaria. He began his training at age eleven at the State Choreographic School in Sofia, where he graduated with honors. Before coming to the United States, he danced with the National Theatre for Opera and Ballet in Bulgaria and won numerous awards at international ballet competitions, including Bulgaria’s National Ballet Competition. He was a principal dancer with Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, where he was the recipient of a 1997 Princess Grace Foundation Dance Fellowship Award. He joined Pacific Northwest Ballet as a principal dancer in 1999.

Josh Spell is from Beaumont, Texas. He trained at the School of American Ballet and attended summer courses at Pacific Northwest Ballet School. He joined Pacific Northwest Ballet as member of the corps de ballet in 2001.

Jeffrey Stanton is from Santa Cruz, California. He trained at San Francisco Ballet School and the School of American Ballet. In addition to classical ballet, he also studied ballroom, jazz, and tap dancing. He joined San Francisco Ballet in 1989 and left to join Pacific Northwest Ballet as a member of the corps de ballet in 1994. He was promoted to soloist in 1995 and made a principal in 1996.

Olivier Wevers is from Brussels, Belgium. He received his training at the Karys Dance Center with Nicole Karys, a former dancer with Bejart’s Ballet du XXieme Siecle. He was a principal at Royal Winnipeg Ballet, dancing regularly with Evelyn Hart, prior to joining Pacific Northwest Ballet as a soloist in 1997. He was promoted to principal in 1998.