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Pacific Northwest Ballet

George Balanchine's "Divertimento #15," Nacho Duato's "Jardí Tancat," Pas de Trois from "Le Corsaire," and Peter Martin's "Fearful Symmetries"

Sadler's Wells, London

July 3, 2002
By
Petra Tschiene


Pacific Northwest Ballet’s second programme of their London season opened with George Balanchine’s Divertimento #15 set to Mozart. This clear-cut classical work full of understated elegance let the musicality of the dancers shine. There were notable performances in the Variations section and the eight corps de ballet dancers shone especially in the Minuet. No doubt the ease with which the company performs this piece is due to careful preparation by Artistic Director Francia Russell who used to dance one of the ballerina roles while with New York City Ballet and has since staged Divertimento #15 for ballet companies throughout Europe.

The evening continued with Nacho Duato’s Jardí Tancat (Catalan for Closed Garden). Duato’s first work, based on Catalonian folk tales collected and sung by Maria del Mar Bonet, deals with the hardship of peasants working the barren land praying for rain that does not come and the way they endure their existence with courage and great spirit. The piece starts in silence with three couples moving in perfect unison through the simple stylised stage setting. When the passionately melancholic songs set in we are taken through a series of pas de deux, solos and ensemble movements all heartbreakingly expressing the people’s desperation and sadness. The simple costumes, shirts and trousers for the men and long dresses for the girls, all in warm earth colours, and the warm lightning design let you almost feel the heat and drought. In tonight’s superb cast, Alexandra Dickson, Kaori Nakamura and Olivier Wevers especially stood out. The piece was the highpoint of the evening for me.

With the famous pas de trois from Le Corsaire that followed, the evening once again changed its direction of style. This classic gala show-stopper worked its usual charm on the audience. Patricia Barker, Stanko Milov and Casey Herd danced with great skill and enthusiasm but their interpretation was a hint too over the top for my taste. No matter; last night’s audience loved every minute of it and rewarded the performers with a lengthy applause.

The evening closed with Peter Martin’s Fearful Symmetries. This neo-classical work for 23 dancers was created in 1990 for New York City Ballet and was obviously inspired by typical Balanchine style. PNB’s ensemble again looked very strong in the fast paced, varied choreography that suits Adam’s haunting and adrenaline charged, dynamic score perfectly. Kaori Nakamura, Louise Nadeau and Jonathan Porretta were especially sparkling in the speedy footwork required.

Overall, this well balanced and very enjoyable programme showed off the company’s versatility in a variety of styles and its strengths in working as an ensemble with remarkable team spirit. It was one of the best evenings of dance I have seen in London this year. The Mixed Bill can be seen on Thursday July 4th and Friday July 5th




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