Pacific Northwest Ballet

'Ballet Now' Program Preview Rehearsal: 'Artifact II,' 'Mercury,' 'Palacios Dances'

by Dean Speer

October 2003 -- Seattle

What a delight it was to have sat in on an open (all right, it was an invited audience) studio rehearsal run-through of the latest PNB repertory program. All pieces were done, with the exception of “Torque” (due to time: one hour).

I particularly enjoyed the intimate setting as this afforded us the chance to see the dances and the dancers up close and to really get acquainted with the inner workings of the ballets.

Forsythe's “Artifact II,” I found to have a Modern Dance sensibility to it and one that really uses and pushes the ballet vocabulary, particularly in its duets. It was instructive to have stager Glen Tuggle there coaching the dancers along and providing finishing touches. Louise Nadeau and Paul Gibson were wonderfully amazing -- strong, in the moment, and on the edge. Dare I say Louise was almost dangerous in this pas de deux. Truly exciting.

It was additionally fun seeing this run, as it featured two couples not booked to be paired during the actual shows. In addition to Ms. Nadeau and Mr. Gibson, we got to see Melanie Skinner and Casey Herd. Both attacking the movement and exploiting their length of line and experience to give us a performance that had me on the edge of my seat.

I found myself having a deeper respect for Taylor-Corbett's “Mercury,” having already liked it upon first blush, but thought it fun and nice but without a whole lot of depth. Her ballet begins with a running, "seek and search" motif that builds and develops and leads us into major dance. Very clever of her to hook us audience types this way and then take us further. The second duet (adagio, 3rd movement), danced with power, strength, depth and conviction by Stanko Milov and Kylee Kitchens, was particularly effective and moving. I admire how Taylor-Corbett breaks up this duet by having the other dancers run diagonally across the stage, interrupting the action and briefly interacting with the duet couple - if only by touching them.

For the fifth and final movement, she brings all back on stage, including the various couples for an exuberant finish -- somewhat reminiscent to me of Mr. B's “Symphony in C.” . Definitely a ballet that is of sound composition, fresh invention, interesting development, and pleasing and fun to watch.

The program features dances where pas de deux are central, so it's very fitting that Kent Stowell's delightful “Palacios Dances” is also on the bill. This balletic tango was sizzling hot with Olivier Wevers and Kaori Nakamura. Each has enormous technique, acting talent and experience that are a perfect blend for this duet.

This studio run was fun, revealing and reinforced to me again how proud we should all be to have the calibre of Pacific Northwest Ballet’s artistic product in our very own Northwest.

For a report on Pacific Northwest Ballet's "Ballet Now" Program Panel Discussion, please click here.

Edited by Jeff.

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