A beautiful evening of dance | Rose Dennis | In Good Company

From left: Erza Thomson, PNB Corps de Ballet; Christopher Wheeldon, choreographer; Lucien Postlewaite, PNB Principal. - Courtesy photo
From left: Erza Thomson, PNB Corps de Ballet; Christopher Wheeldon, choreographer; Lucien Postlewaite, PNB Principal.
— image credit: Courtesy photo

It was a beautiful opening gala Sept. 23 for Pacific Northwest Ballet’s First Look 2011 – An Evolution of Dance. The event was in honor of contemporary choreographer Christopher Wheeldon, who shared that his choreography is strongly influenced by his early training at London’s Royal Ballet.

As PNB’s Artistic Director Peter Boal stated, “On stage Christopher’s presence was a memorable as his arabesque.”

This year’s gala chair was Issaquah resident Caroline Hazard Goedhart. She and her committee members from PNB STARS wanted the backstage dinner, held before the performance, to have a elegant organic décor with large and tall tree limbs, moss and sedums. Candles glowed and soft music was performed by a string quartet as guests enjoyed an organic dinner of heirloom tomato gazpacho, summer squash, peach and endive salad, and sirloin beef.

Caroline shared, “We wanted this year’s event to be different from the past, and I feel that we were able to make this happen with everyone’s support, which I am grateful for.”

When guests and season ticket holders arrived to their seats, Boal announced that PNB dancers Rachel Foster and Lesley Rausch were promoted to Principals, and that the night’s performance was dedicated to longtime arts patron Bagley Wright, who passed away in July.

When the red velvet curtain opened, we were treated to four of Christopher’s works: Carousel (A Dance), After the Rain pas de deux, Polyphonia, and Variations Se’r ieuses.

All of the company dancers performed beautifully, but my favorite was Principal dancer’s Maria Chapman and Karel Cruz in After the Rain. As Boal shared about this Wheeldon ballet, “images are so unexpected; origami twists and the unlikely curls of an orchid come to mind. Softened by the tranquil pulse of Arvo Part’s score, the work holds the viewer long after the curtain descends.” Maria and Karel were able to accomplish just this, and much more.

Dessert and dancing followed the performance on the McCaw Hall stage. Everyone was there, and it was so much fun!

Christopher; Peter and his lovely wife, Kelly; the dancers who performed that night; PNB STARS members, PNB Board of Trustees and Advisory Board members; and many patrons who love the ballet.

While driving home, I continued to reflect on how wonderful this evening had been. If you have the opportunity, I encourage you to see All Wheeldon this weekend.

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