Tuesday January 5, 2010 - Pacific Northwest Ballet have arrived at The Joyce for their New York season under the direction of former New York City Ballet principal dancer Peter Boal. In the Angela Sterling photo above: Carla Korbes in Edwaard Liang's FUR ALINA.
Ballet companies visiting New York City recently have sometimes erred in their choice of repertoire: Miami City Ballet brought coals to Newcastle with their heavily-Balanchine programmes, and two out of three works that Tulsa Ballet presented here were uninspiring. Pacific Northwest wisely brought a nicely-mixed bill of fare ranging from romantic to edgy and featuring larger works by Twyla Tharp and Benjamin Millepied alongside a poignant duet by Edwaard Liang and a darkly quirky male solo by Marco Goecke.
Four dancers who will be well-remembered from their days at New York City Ballet are now with PNB: Carla Korbes, Sarah Ricard Orza, Seth Orza and William Lin-Yee. All four appeared in tonight's programme, Carla having the lead role in three of the four works presented.
The one small tinge of regret I felt during the evening was the fact that Miranda Weese retired last year, just a few months before we would have had an opportunity to see her onstage again. Despite an abundance of lovely and fascinating ballerinas at New York City Ballet these days, I continue to miss Miranda every single time I go there. It's also too bad that we did not get to see Sokvannara Sar dancing with the Company here in New York.
Ariana Lallone and Stanko Milov in OPUS 111, photo by Angela Sterling. Twyla Tharp came to Tower one day when I was working there and I spent a long time with her in the Brahms section; she bought a basket full of the composer's CDs in all genres from symphonic to solo piano. OPUS 111 is undoubtedly a upshot of that shopping spree.
Clad in soft Autumnal colours with chiffon scarves, the six couples - the women in soft slippers - take their cue from the folk-like aspects of the Brahms String Quintet #2. Carla Korbes and Batkhurel Bold dance with spacious generosity; in the second movement their duet is almost devoid of contact yet intrinsically romantic in tone. A very tall couple, Ariana Lallone and Stanko Milov are overtly passionate. Jonathan Porretta stood out for the bold authority of his dancing.
Principal dancer Lucien Postlewaite (above) surpassed the high expectations that his reviews have prompted; he's a beautifully poised dancer who communicates a deep love of dancing every moment he is onstage.
In the Tharp, Lucien partnered Sarah Ricard Orza - they are seen above in Andrea Mohin's photo. Sarah was always lovely to watch when she danced with NYC Ballet but she has now blossomed into a radiant, lyrical presence. Her sense of the music's flow and her sweeping extension continually drew me to her whenever she was onstage.
Completing the excellent ensemble were Chalnessa Eames, Rachel Foster, Carrie Imler, James Moore and Barry Kerollis; once sensed simply by watching this one work not only the technical assurance of the PNB dancers but also their individual personalities. They connect warmly with one another and transmit their energy to the audience generously.
In the Edwaard Liang pas de deux FUR ALINA, Karel Cruz (above) was an ideal partner for Carla Korbes; his tall, dark and handsome presence and thoroughly impressive partnering set the lusciously blonde Carla off to perfection. Since her much-lamented departure from NYC Ballet, Carla has retained and even enhanced the sense of rapture in her dancing that always made her performances here so remarkable. This duet begins with a series of tableaux; the dancers are illuminated for each passage of the Part piano score, alternating with blackouts during which they move to another pose. Once the musical line becomes continuous, the partnering becomes fluid and the atmosphere, while tinged with romance, remains wistful while the piano music creates a mood of raindrops - or teardrops - falling. The two dancers made this duet the emotional core of the evening, holding the audience enraptured.
James Moore in MOPEY (above photo: Angela Sterling) gave a tour de force performance. This solo, which alternates passages danced in silence with music of Bach and The Cramps, was premiered at the Joyce in 2004 by Sean Suozzi who has staged it for PNB. It is a long, arduous workout for the performer and James Moore seized the opportunity. His sweat-drenched torso seemed to glow in the golden light; facing upstage he was able to create movement while standing still thru the rippling musculature of his back. It was his commitment and sheer animal magnetism that made the piece work, even though it is just a bit too long.
In Benjamin Millepied's THREE MOVEMENTS Carla Korbes and Batkhurel Bold (above, photo by Angela Sterling) led an ensemble of fourteen dancers in non-stop motion set on Steve Reich's propulsive 1986 score Three Movements for Orchestra. The men seem to be dressed in office casual, the women in skirted tunics of black, white or grey. The dancers rush on, swirl and leap in various pairings and groups, veer offstage only to return in other combinations, always moving with relentless energy as the Reich rhythms keep up a driven pace. A duet for Korbes and Bold has a combative element.
The men were particularly exciting here, among them Seth Orza, William Lin-Yee, and Jerome Tisserand all of whom will be remembered from their time with NYCB or SAB. Millepied's THREE MOVEMENTS has a steely, chilly aspect - the dancers at times seem almost mechanized - but it ends with the girls in a demure curtsey. It's a work I'd like to see again.
The sold-out crowd gave a rousing welcome to Peter Boal when he appeared with the dancers at the end. Among the audience: Alexandra Ansanelli, Edwaard Liang, Suki Schorer, Adam Hendrickson, Craig Hall and Ellen Ostrom.
UPDATE: It seems the PNB Joyce season is sold out. Excellent news! Now we need to pull together on both Coasts to make sure the Company come to NYC every year, or at least with far greater frequency. They have a Ulysses Dove programme I'm DYING to see, and wouldn't it be fun to have their gorgeous-looking ROMEO & JULIETTE?