Arts and Entertainment

Up close and personal with Pacific Northwest Ballet | Rose Dennis | In Good Company

I attended a studio rehearsal last week for Pacific Northwest Ballet’s upcoming Love Stories. Such rehearsals provide a fascinating chance to see the performers up close and personal.

The rehearsal studios are intimate and very warm. As the dancers perform to a live piano, you can watch their facial expressions and hear them catch a breath of air. Since this was not a dress rehearsal, audience guests were able to see the company dancers in their normal dance wear: men wearing leotard shorts with no shirts; female ballerinas wearing simple leotards and tights with no feet, with their long hair floating when they danced.

Artistic Director Peter Boal, along with PNB’s Ballet Masters, were on hand asking the piano player to slow down or speed up – and sometimes correcting one or two dancers at the end on how they can improve. I often wondered how a dancer feels when they are signaled out in front of everyone. It was once shared that some dancer’s love this attention, and others do not.

Love Stories, which run Nov. 4-13 at 2011 at Marion Oliver McCaw Hall in Seattle, features PNB’s premiers of George Balanchine’s Divertimento from “Le Baiser de la Fée," Jerome Robbins’ “Afternoon of a Faun,” and excerpts from PNB’s most popular story ballets Roméo et Juliette, Swan Lake and The Sleeping Beauty.

Balanchine's work was created for New York City Ballet's legendary 1972 Stravinsky Festival. Its charismatic choreography contains notable solos for the male and female leads as well as hints of an enigmatic attraction between the pair.

Francia Russell, past artistic director of PNB and director of the organization's school from 1977 until her retirement in June 2005, was one of the first ballet masters chosen by Balanchine to globally stage his works.

Boal worked with Jerome Robbins at the New York City Ballet and has brought many of Robbins’ works to PNB since his arrival in 2005. In “Afternoon of a Faun,” Robbins’ portrays the innocent exchange between two dance students who hold their gazes forward as if studying every movement of their tentative partnership in a classroom mirror.

Love Stories should not be missed. Tickets start at $25.00. www.pnb.org

Rose Dennis writes about events in Bellevue and the Greater Seattle area. She lives in Bellevue.

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