Ticket Season, Part Two: Pacific Northwest Ballet

16-17-renew“I love tickets!” squeals Cameron Diaz’s character in the first Charlie’s Angels movie. (And why has no one ever made a gif of that?) It’s supposed to illustrate what an eccentric character she is, but I understand completely. I love tickets. And spring is ticket season. Season-ticket season, to be precise. All of the arts organizations announce their upcoming seasons, tickets go on sale, and I spend hours each spring planning what I will be doing on Saturday nights all next winter. I’ve already written about next season’s offerings at Seattle Opera. Now let’s talk about ballet. 

Of all the arts, ballet is the one I love to watch most. As a hopeless klutz with no rhythm, dance is nothing less than magic to me. And when I say ‘dance’ I usually mean Pacific Northwest Ballet. I’ve attended most performances of most seasons since I saw the Nutcracker for the first time in 1993, and it just keeps getting better. Peter Boal has been the Artistic Director of PNB since 2005, but since most of the ballets I missed came between 2007 and 2012 when I had small kids, I still think of him as the new guy. In any case, I love the direction PNB has moved under his direction. On top of PNB’s Balanchine foundation Boal has built a company with a strong repertoire of modern dance that is as challenging to the viewer as the dancer (in different ways, of course). Every season I look forward to a mix of ballets that I know will make me look at dance in new ways.

Let’s see what’s in store for 2016-2017, shall we?

 September 23–October 2, 2016

3 Movements  (Steve Reich / Benjamin Millepied)
Appassionata (Ludwig van Beethoven / Benjamin Millepied)
Symphony in C (Georges Bizet / George Balanchine © The School of American Ballet)

 If I have ever seen Benjamin Millepied’s work, it was at a time when I wasn’t yet paying attention to the names of the choreographers. Google tells me he is behind the movie Black Swan, married to Natalie Portman, and is the same age as my baby brother. Since two of his pieces (one of them new to PNB) are paired with a Balanchine, he is either rooted in that style and therefore very compatible with it; or he is so far from what PNB audiences are used to that they’ve stuck a familiar ballet on the end to pacify the inevitable outrage. I guess I’ll have to watch the movie this summer to find out.

November 4–13, 2016

Brief Fling  (Michel Colombier and Percy Grainger / Twyla Tharp)
Forgotten Land  (Benjamin Britten / Jiří Kylián)
Stravinsky Violin Concerto (Igor Stravinsky / George Balanchine © The George Balanchine Trust)
Twyla Tharp, Jiří Kylián, and Balanchine on Stravinsky. Oh yeah, I’m there.
Oh – you wanted more? Ok. I had heard the name Twyla Tharp before, but never seen her work until she became PNB’s artist in residence in 2013. There was an entire rep of her dances (Air Twyla) that season, and she wrote a new piece, “Waiting at the Station,” a metaphor for life and death that evoked jazz age New Orleans that premiered at PNB that season. It was awesome. I don’t remember if I saw Kylian’s Petit Morte (the one with fencing foils) when it premiered at PNB in 2009, but I know for certain I saw it with Forgotten Land and Sechs Tänze, as well as Crystal Pite’s “Emergence” at the Kylian + Pite program in 2013. It was one of those performances that redefined ballet for me.

February 3–12, 2017

(Sergei Prokofiev/ Jean-Christophe Maillot)

A new-to-us ballet by Maillot, the choreographer that made me fall in love with one of my least favorite Shakespearean stories, Romeo and Juliet. I can’t wait to see what he’s done with Cinderella, I story I actually do like.

March 17–26, 2017

Empire Noir* (Greg Haines / David Dawson)
New Suite (George Frideric Handel, Luciano Berio and Johann Sebastian Bach / William Forsythe)
New Lang** (TBA / Jessica Lang)

I had the flu the last time PNB performed a David Dawson ballet, so I look forward to a second chance. I have seen a Forsythe, but had to look up an old post to remember what it was. Jessica Lang? I thought she was an actress.

But Director’s Choice is always one of my favorite programs of the year, in large part because it stretches me as an audience member. I expect this will be the same.

April 14–23, 2017

Carousel (A Dance) (Richard Rodgers / Christopher Wheeldon)
Slaughter on Tenth Avenue (Richard Rodgers / George Balanchine © The George Balanchine Trust)
West Side Story Suite (Leonard Bernstein / Jerome Robbins with Peter Genarro)
This is probably supposed to be one of the “brings out the parishioners” programs, but it’s the one I’m least sure about. I love music, and I love theater, but I don’t love musical theater. Will I like dance about musical theater? We’ll see. All three of these choreographers are staples in the PNB repertory, and sometimes an evening at the pops is the just the lighthearted fun it’s meant to be.

June 2–11, 2017

La Source  (Léo Delibes / George Balanchine © The George Balanchine Trust)
Opus 19/The Dreamer  (Sergei Prokofiev / Jerome Robbins)
Pictures at an Exhibition  (Modest Mussorgsky / Alexei Ratmansky)

All three of these are new to PNB, and it’s always exciting to see new work (even if you’re like me and have forgotten most of what you’ve already seen).  It’s fun to think that with all the Balanchine PNB performs, there are still pieces that we haven’t seen. Jerome Robbins is usually a safe bet. The only Ratmansky I can remember seeing was Don Quixote, which was actually cobbled together by several artists, but I enjoyed it a lot. But the title reminds me of Jerome Robbins’ “The Concert,” which I also enjoyed, so I expect great things.

Tickets to individual performances are not on sale yet, but if you’re willing to commit, season tickets are the cheapest they are going to be right now. Too late for me, but if you’re under 40, PNB recently introduced a young subscribers circle similar to the opera’s Bravo Club that offers some especially good deals.



2 thoughts on “Ticket Season, Part Two: Pacific Northwest Ballet

  1. Pingback: Ticket Season, Part Three: Seattle Children’s Theatre | gemma D. alexander

  2. Pingback: Ticket Season Part Four: What I Bought | gemma D. alexander

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