A Childish Review of Director’s Choice at Pacific Northwest Ballet

DirChoice14BookletThe Director’s Choice repertory is always one of my favorite ballet performances of the year; I look forward to Peter Boal’s selection of modern, intriguing, challenging pieces all year. So when I found myself running a temperature of 102 F a day before I was supposed to go, I hated the thought of missing it. Fortunately, as a season subscriber, I was able to call the box office and change my dates without any fees. Unfortunately, on the day of the final performance, I was still completely out of commission, so I ended up sending my husband and daughter. My daughter has been attending the ballet for half of her life. That’s only five years of ballet, so her opinions are not necessarily the same as mine. But her opinions (lightly edited) are the ones you’re getting today.

I went to a ballet and it was called Director’s choice. If you want to watch an all types of dancing and music ballet then this is just right for you. There is one performance called “A million kisses to my skin” and the dancers jump and leap like any other ballet and it was a normal ballet performance but what really caught my eye is that the women dancers were only wearing leotards so I could a little bit see there butts!!

Editor’s note: “A Million Kisses to my Skin” features music by Bach and choreography from David Dawson. The title of the piece was familiar to me, but I couldn’t remember if I had seen it before. As my daughter noted, the ballet very consciously works with a classical vocabulary; the piece was written as a farewell to the choreographer’s own performance career. It served as a tribute to his classical foundation, as well as a celebration of those effervescent moments in performance when everything comes together perfectly, moments he says feel like a million simultaneous kisses.

There was another dance called Before and After it only had two dancers and weird music. I did not really like this dance because the music was too strange , the stage was really dark and the voices in the music were creepy. And the dancers both took off their shirts! And one of them was a girl!! Personally I don’t think that women or men for that matter should take off their shirts in public.

Editor’s Note: Clearly, my daughter is 10. I suppose that I should celebrate her prudishness as she approaches the age where sexting and naked Instagram become common behaviors among her peers. Prudishness at any age, however, fails to serve the arts, so some clarification may be required. The simple costumes in “A Million Kisses” are intended to keep the focus on the joyful movements of the dance. They are entirely standard ballet wear, and two seasons ago, my daughter would not have noticed them at all. “Before After” is a work by Annabelle Lopez Ochoa that explores the moment when a relationship ends. It’s not surprising then that there would be a sexual energy and a vulnerability to the piece that might make a child on the edge of puberty uncomfortable. [I’m guessing; I’ve never seen the piece.] I do know that the ballerina was not topless; her costume involved a flesh-tone bra. From reviews that I have read, the piece also includes themes of strength and recovery that I hope trump faux nudity in importance for my daughter in the future.

The music was a 2002 piece by Marc van Roon, an experimental jazz pianist. I was curious about the “too strange” music and “creepy” voices, so I dug around and found video from a 2013 performance. Unfortunately, I can’t get the embed to work, but if you’re curious it lives here.

If you don’t feel like clicking, but want to watch a video, here is the choreographer talking about the piece:

 

BeforeAfter

Angelica Generosa and Raphael Bouchard in Angela Sterling’s photo for Pacific Northwest Ballet

 

The other performance is called Rassemblement and it has the women in puffy skirts and the men in ballet / tuxedo outfits. The music is all African style and the dancers did a lot of synchronized dances.

Rassemblement is one of my favorite ballets. It was one of the first ballets I ever saw that blurred the line between modern ballet and contemporary dance. The movements, the costumes, the music are all beautiful, alternately and simultaneously stark and lush. Nacho Duato set this dance to a collection of slave’s Voodoo songs recorded by Haitian artist Toto Bissainthe. These culturally specific songs of suffering and resistance expand into a political statement in favor of human rights that continues to resonate decades later.

Elizabeth Murphy & Batkhurel Bold in Nacho Duato's Rassemblement.

Elizabeth Murphy & Batkhurel Bold in Nacho Duato’s Rassemblement.

The last dance was called Debonair and this was my favorite dance because it was my style lots of spectacular solos and every thing was amazing in that dance and any 10 year old will love it because I am 10 and I love it. Their is also an Orchestra Prelude and the orchestra plays very beautifully. All in all if you read this you will now understand how I feel like it was the best ballet ever!

Debonair was a world premiere from Justin Peck and I guess I just missed out.

 

 

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2 thoughts on “A Childish Review of Director’s Choice at Pacific Northwest Ballet

  1. Pingback: Omakase at Pacific Northwest Ballet | gemma D. alexander

  2. Pingback: Ticket Season, Part Two: Pacific Northwest Ballet | gemma D. alexander

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