Choice Time at Pacific Northwest Ballet

In kindergarten, almost every kid has the same favorite subject in school – Choice Time. Choice time usually disappears in third grade, but when it does appear in later life, it’s usually still a favorite. For me, that means the annual Director’s Choice program at Pacific Northwest Ballet. Of course, it’s the director’s job to pick the programs, so in a sense every program is the director’s choice. But the idea behind Director’s Choice is that for this one program, the director picks ballets he likes best without consideration for budgets and ticket sales. I doubt that the director is ever free from those considerations, but it’s a nice idea and it is true that Director’s Choice includes more premieres and bolder works than other programs throughout the season. Which is why I always end up liking it best.

This year was even more special to me, because for once, I only brought my kids to the introduction of the blog post, but was free to attend and enjoy the actual ballet for myself, without consideration for what kind of value it may have for kids or how to help kids understand and enjoy it. Even better, my companion for the evening is a dancer herself, so I could share her insights that I would never get on my own. Continue reading

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.  Continue reading

Omakase at Pacific Northwest Ballet

Photo © Angela Sterling c/o PNB

Photo © Angela Sterling c/o PNB

Omakase, written with the character for trust, is the word you use when you order chef’s choice at a sushi restaurant. It shows that you trust the skill of the chef to know better than you what is in season and what will taste best together. When you say omakase, instead of giving an order, you are trusting the chef to create the best experience for you, like a DJ controlling the atmosphere of a party by selecting the right beats. You are likely to be served dishes outside of your comfort zone, and while you might not like all of them, a good chef will create a more delicious and memorable meal than you could have selected for yourself.

Each spring, Pacific Northwest Ballet’s Director’s Choice program is ballet omakase. The mixed rep program is Director Peter Boal’s opportunity to express his own taste and to stretch the audience and the dancers with dances that are more challenging or unusual than the regular season fare. Continue reading



I’m working on an article about Pacific Northwest Ballet’s new production of the Nutcracker right now. They are hard at work rehearsing George Ballanchine’s choreography and putting together new sets designed by children’s author Ian Falconer, of Olivia fame. I’m excited to see what they come up with. But I’m also going to miss this.

The Vertiginous Thrill of Forsythe

Photo by Angela Sterling for Pacific Northwest Ballet

Photo by Angela Sterling for Pacific Northwest Ballet

Before I saw Pacific Northwest Ballet’s all Forsythe repertory The Vertiginous Thrill of Forsythe, I never realized that in some ways, the avant-garde contemporary ballet that thrills me has more in common with the straight-laced classical ballet that puts me to sleep than it does with anything that came between. Continue reading

Don Quixote at Pacific Northwest Ballet Makes Me Penitent

Photo by Angela Sterling, courtesy of PNB.

Photo by Angela Sterling, courtesy of PNB.

I have a confession to make. It’s a little ironic, because I’m a writer. Stories are my life and my livelihood.

I don’t love story ballets. Too much time in stately processions and miming instead of dancing, while the dancing that does occur interrupts the story. And then along comes Don Quixote, a story ballet about an obsession with stories. It has subplots and cinematic pacing that disguises rigorous classical technique with gorgeous choreography and laugh-out-loud humor. Continue reading

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.

Continue reading