Critical Dance

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A brief look back to earlier visits of Pacific Northwest Ballet to the UK

By Stuart Sweeney
June 2002

This is Pacific Northwest Ballet's second visit to London's Sadler's Wells and they first thrilled UK audiences at the 1998 Edinburgh Festival.

Everyone was delighted by PNB's production of Balanchine's A Midsummer Night's Dream both in London and Edinburgh and the dancers impressed in all the ballets on show. Jann Parry wrote about their last visit:

'I love the way they dance, with such alert precision - even the children from their school show the same commitment to detail. Seth Belliston, Patricia Barker and Manard Stewart were outstanding among the soloists and ballets made for the company gave less experienced dancers a chance to show their mettle: Batkhurel Bold, for example, in Donald Byrd's brand new In the Courtyard.'

Scroll down for the PNB section of Jann Parry's review from 1999. Jann Parry also wrote an interesting preview article for the 1999 visit featuring the plans to bring the students from the PNB school, who inevitably stole the show in their scenes in The Dream.

However, opinions varied regarding the Mixed Bill at Sadler's Wells, but it should be noted that the 2002 offering has an entirely different programme. For instance, Debra Craine was unimpressed with the newer works, but loved PNB's version of Balanchine's Four Temperaments.

'This Seattle-based troupe introduced itself to London with a "Great American Choreographers" programme. A title like that puts a lot of faith in the four men whose work it encompasses. Since one of those men is Balanchine, we know at least one of them will live up to the billing. As for the rest, though, if they truly represent Pacific Northwest Ballet's idea of "great" then American choreography is in big trouble......

After so much pale imitation, the real thing arrived with the force of a thunderbolt. Balanchine's brazen reshaping of Classical symmetry; his confident glee in cracking the sculpted lines of centuries of dance; his assurance of form and his boundless musical energy: all attest to his daring and imagination. Amazingly, it feels as fresh as if it were made today.'

My impression of PNB on the strength of the 1999 Sadler's Wells short season is that they can be placed in the same broad category as English National Ballet and Birmingham Royal Ballet. Thus London dances fans can look forward to a treat with the return visit of PNB to London.

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