The sea of ballet dancers clothed in dark blue move with such intensity it’s as if the audience is watching an ocean wave. Chaotically spinning and gliding about, it has a feeling reminiscent to the ocean at high tide. The dancer’s bodies ripple and flow with ease as they dance in harmony. As the tempo picks up, the other couples return and chaos reignites. The piece concluded with only the dancers visible as silhouettes descend into a dark blue backdrop. Entrancing in the ocean’s shifting states, the piece relates to humanity and the ever changing relationships within it. Christopher Wheeldon’s Tide Harmonic was a part of Pacific Northwest Ballet’s Love & Ballet performed at McCaw Hall, which runs June 1st-10th.
Christopher Wheeldon’s After the Rain Pas de deux sends the audience floating from the ocean down to earth for a breathtaking partnership. PNB principal dancers Rachel Foster and James Moore beautifully embody a couple that’s been together through years of trials and tribulations. The dancer’s casual attire, loosely flowing hair, and bare feet provided a sense of connection to the earth and made the duet relatable. Breaking physical contact with one another for only a moment before returning, they relied on each other to inform their next move. By using poses that signified openness, vulnerability, and pain—the audience was taken through the changes that occur within a relationship, especially one that has experienced hardship.
Maintaining the theme of varied stages of love, three duets awaken the stage with passion in Benjamin Millepied’s Appassionata. To the lively sound of Ludwig van Beethoven, the couples emerge with vivacity and begin dancing as a group in partners. Afterwards, they repeat the cycle of dancing with a partner, one person running off stage, and the other half of that couple following as the remaining dancers react. The costuming of brightly colored matching partner attire mirrors the mood of the dancers. Quick grande allegro movements represent the joyousness of a new relationship. Later, a duet emerges with a couple dressed in all white, the company members reappear in new solid grey and black clothing as the piece concludes exploring the darker, more matured side of a relationship. In the end the couples walk off stage together, symbolizing the loyalty that arises in the latter stages of love.
The final piece of Love & Ballet, Justin Peck’s Year of the Rabbit, is like a burst of high energy. Angelica Generosa leads the company as she breezes through a complicated series of small jumps and precise steps while imitating an Ox. The company members then take their turns to embody different animals of the Chinese Zodiac, using linear and geometric shapes to convey intentions. The dancers slow down momentarily before returning to high speed that mirrors the energy of a wild animal. Ending with the final zodiac, year of the boar, the company members rejoin forces to end the show with a bang. Chinese Zodiac signs are based on a 12 year cycle, so Year of the Rabbit fits well in a production with a recurring theme of different stages of life and love. -Cassianna Diaz
Pacific Northwest Ballet’s Love & Ballet opened on June 1st at McCaw Hall and runs through June 10th. For more information on Pacific Northwest Ballet, Please visit www.pnb.org.