Saturday May 15, 2010 evening - Pacific Northwest Ballet Education Programs Manager Doug Fullington gave a presentation entitled Balanchine’s Petipa as part of Works & Process at the Guggenheim, featuring performances by PNB company members and a discussion of dances by both Marius Petipa (above) and George Balanchine (below).
Balanchine’s Petipa explores the influence of the choreography of Marius Petipa (1818-1910) and his colleagues at the Imperial Ballet in St. Petersburg on the choreography of George Balanchine (1904-1983). The program’s Balanchine excerpts have been staged by Peter Boal, Elyse Borne, Frederic Franklin, and Francia Russell. The 19th-century dances have been reconstructed by Mr. Fullington using dance notation made in St. Petersburg in the Stepanov notation method at the turn of the 20th century.
The programme featured excerpts from 19th-century ballets
included The Awakening of Flora, La Bayadère, The Nutcracker, Paquita, Raymonda, The Sleeping Beauty, and Swan Lake. Excerpts from Balanchine ballets shown were
We were greeted by Peter Boal, artistic director of PNB who introduced Doug Fullington. Mr. Fullington provided illuminating commentary on the works as they were presented, noting the stylistic influence of Petipa on Balanchine as well as many references to performance practice which he has discovered in his exhaustive study of the Stepanov method and of the Petipa era in general.
On paper the programme looked long but in fact it went by swiftly and smoothly, Mr. Fullington giving us just enough information about each work without getting bogged down in narrative. And the PNB dancers were simply remarkable: we saw some of these artists when PNB visited The Joyce earlier this year. How nice to see them again in this intimate setting. At one or two points the dancers were slightly hampered by the limited stage area but overall the level of dancing was very high...and thoroughly enjoyable.
The division of labor seemed fair, and each of the eight dancers were given pieces in which their best qualities shone. Lesley Rausch and Benjamin Griffiths danced a setting by Lev Ivanov of what we now know as the Soldier Doll's solo from Balanchine's NUTCRACKER; their charmingly animated performance served as a calling card: Ms. Rausch later danced a Petipa rendering of a variation from RAYMONDA and also danced with Benjamin Griffths and Carla Korbes in the pas de trois from Balanchine's EMERALDS. Benjamin gave a lyrical interpretation of the solos from SWAN LAKE (in a version by Alexander Gorsky) as well as Balanchine's BAISER DE LA FEE. The elegant Mara Vinson danced Balanchine's setting of the same solo from RAYMONDA as Ms. Rausch had danced - they looked very different - and she also joined Kaori Nakamura and James Moore in the pas de trois from PAQUITA.
James Moore, who has made a name for himself dancing the solo MOPEY for PNB (including here in New York City), showed himself to be a most impressive Prodigal Son, performing that character's first solo passage with unstinting energy and dramatic bravado. His Prodigal as well as his dancing in ensemble pieces tonight reveal a fine technique and a potent, distinctive personality. Angela Sterling photo above: James Moore in MOPEY.
Le Yin is a beautiful, expressive dancer and it's hard to think of him as being 'retired'. His dancing of the male variation from THEME & VARIATIONS, a solo from DIVERTIMENTO #15 and a version of the Prince's solo from SLEEPING BEAUTY (either by Petipa or Nikolai Legat) were among the highlights of the evening.
Kaori Nakamura (above), PNB's Japanese principal ballerina, danced with grace and an especially nice classic sheen in several ensemble excerpts and she also appeared as Nikiya in a particularly fine rendering of the BAYADERE pas de deux. Her Solor was former New York City Ballet soloist Seth Orza; Mr. Fullington had the dancers walk thru this pas de deux so we could observe interpretive details in advance. Then they danced it full-out and - even without costuming, lighting and orchestra - they really caught the mood of mystery, wonder and regret that underlies the music. Kaori's technical strength is wrapped in a silky layer of lyricism: a most appealing dancer.
Seth Orza (with Carla Korbes in Erin Baiano's rehearsal photo above) returned to New York City as a sort of conquering hero tonight dancing not only Solor but also excerpts from Balanchine's
As Terpsichore to Seth Orza's