PNB’s “Emergence”

Hello world! Yes, it’s been a while (about a year, I think…oops. So much for resolutions). But here we are. I had some thoughts following PNB’s “Emergence” program on November 14 and thought to myself, “where might I share those musings…?” and then remembered, “oh right, I have a blog” 🙂

So since we’re out of practice around these parts, some stream of consciousness thoughts as they came to me:

–Kiyon Gaine’s “Sum Stravinsky” impressed me more than I thought it would. It was light, quick, and never dragged or seemed too long (a frequent complaint of mine with young choreographers). Balanchine references abounded, but they were largely clever rather than slavish. I particularly enjoyed the way each movement opened with women dancing alone to later be joined by their partners–a nice ode to “ballet is woman.”

–Angelica Generosa was a standout in the opening pas de deux. At times, I think her dancing can be a little flashy, but there was something charming and fitting about the absolute security of her technique here–she gives off an air that while it may be nice to have a partner, she doesn’t really need him after all.

–Maria Chapman, who was out most of last season on maternity leave (did she dance in the Carla farewell?), was a total revelation for me. Probably my new favorite of the Principal women–she first caught my eye in the central pas in “Sum Stravinsky” but I was drawn to her repeatedly in both “Signature” and “Emergence.” [edited to add: about 2 hours after I posted this, she retired. Just my luck. Good luck Maria with your new starring role as a mom!]

PNB NEWS from Principal dancer @mckballet: “With mixed emotions, I announce my retirement from PNB so that I can enjoy more time with my daughter. I feel blessed to leave the stage happy and healthy and with two decades of wonderful memories, on and offstage. I fully enjoyed my last performances with PNB, dancing three wonderful ballets, with the entire company, in the EMERGENCE program, and I can end my career on a high note. I know I will always miss this spectacular career, and the PNB community, however when Eleanor came into my life sixteen months ago, my goals changed and she became my world. As I did when I left home at age 15 to become a ballerina, I once again leave a safe ‘home’ to follow my heart to be a full-time mom. I am truly grateful to all of my fans, friends and family for the love and support you gave me throughout my career.” We invite you to comment your favorite memories of #MariaChapman 💐👏💐👏

A post shared by Pacific Northwest Ballet (@pacificnorthwestballet) on

–I’ve been familiar with Jessica Lang’s work for a long time–she choreographed at Princeton a few times, and was my choreography teacher at an ABT intensive (that’s a story for another time). I enjoyed “The Calling” when it was premiered at PNB in the spring and enjoyed it again on Saturday, though James Moore didn’t quite live up to my memory of Carla Korbes in the same role. I would have been really curios to see Dylan Wald perform the piece.

–Speaking of Dylan Wald–he continues to impress. He consistently stands out for being just a touch more  than anyone around him–a little more elevation or lift, a little more stage presence, a little stretch through a line.

–Price Suddarth’s “Signature” was also better than I was expecting (is it clear I’m fairly skeptical of new choreographers? it’s not that I’m not supportive of them, it’s just that I’ve seen a lot of bad work…).  He’s clearly extremely talented with a great sense of musicality and musical structure. The first section was particularly compelling. This was one though that I thought could have used some choreographic mentorship and editing. It did begin to drag a bit in the middle and never quite recovered, though Margaret Mullin’s solo in the final section was memorable.

–“Emergence,” by Crystal Pite, may have been slightly over-hyped for me, but I did really enjoy it.  Mullin’s opening pas with Josh Grant, Leah Merchant in the section with the three men, James Moore in the Bee Man solo, and the climax with everyone together on stage were a few highlight moments. The connections made between dancers, insects, and the military were intriguing and convincing–something that can’t be said for the new Starz show “Flesh and Bone” which tried to make some similar statements. But that’s a different blog post.

So that’s a wrap–and wasn’t too painful! maybe this will be a regular occurrence!–thanks for reading (if anyone’s still out there!) and maybe I’ll be back soon 🙂

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