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

Solstice Giraffe

 

My neighborhood has hosted a summer solstice parade since 1989. Without really knowing anything about it, I attended the festival the first summer I lived in Seattle (1993) when it just seemed like any other summer festival and the Fremont neighborhood seemed very far away from my central area apartment. I still have the batik bedspread I bought that year. Now I live two blocks from the parade route and have a much more intimate understanding of the festival.

It’s not your regular summer festival. The parade rules:

  1. No printed words, signage or recognizable logos.
  2. No live animals (except guide animals).
  3. No motorized vehicles (except motorized wheelchairs)
  4. No functional weapons.

The festival is a completely nonmotorized, noncommercial celebration of sunshine, life, art and creativity. The better for basking in the sun, a festival of this sort involves a fair bit of nudity.  Most famously, naked cyclists. I used to love their creative body paint costumes, the double take when you tried to figure out which riders were clothed and which were not.

But the naked cyclists have proliferated in recent years, in my opinion to the detriment of the festival. Just as the belly dancers once did, the cyclists’ numbers threaten to overwhelm the parade. Many of the newcomers don’t bother with artistic paint designs. Worse, their fame has drawn hundreds of pervs from the suburbs who have no interest in the rest of the celebration and just want to take pictures of naked people.

But the rest of the festival is still there, and it is still filled with incredible creations. Like this 15-foot-tall puppet from 2014.

Artistic Growth at Seattle Opera

 

Seattle Opera 2017 Katya Kabanova Philip Newton photo

Seattle Opera 2017 Katya Kabanova Philip Newton photo c/o Seattle Opera

Interview any artist, whether it’s a rock star promoting a new album or a symphony director discussing his orchestra, and you will hear about “artistic growth.” But we don’t often talk about audiences’ artistic growth. Continue reading

The Most Beautiful Music – La Traviata at Seattle Opera

Seattle Opera 2017 La Traviata McCaw Hall

Corinne Winters (Violetta). Seattle Opera 2017 La Traviata Philip Newton photo c/o Seattle Opera

People are getting pretty worked up about the unusual production of La Traviata currently playing at Seattle Opera. But really, the production isn’t very important. What really matters about La Traviata is the music, that exquisite, heavenly music.  Continue reading

Weather Diaries

weatherdiariesI went to Iceland again this year, and there was so much I wanted to write about it and never got around to. Likewise, there were a lot of things I wanted to do when I was in Iceland that I didn’t get to. Determined to maximize my experience, I usually run myself into the ground when I’m there – I’ve gotten sick on every trip so far, and this time I decided to try a more moderate approach. One of the things I missed was the Weather Diaries exhibit at Nordic House. Continue reading

Home of the ‘Fraid

image from Gratisography

image from Gratisography

One of my favorite things about freelancing is that I don’t have to commute. I always feel that beginning my day with the rush of making myself presentable, finding everything I’m going to need for the day, getting out the door and to the bus stop on time to spend 45 minutes in traffic uses up most of my energy for the day.

Once each week, I do work in an office downtown, and that once-weekly commuting day reminds me how much I love freelancing. Last week, it also reminded me of an experience I had forgotten in the haze of travel exhaustion and jet lag when I got home from Iceland in July. Continue reading

Wickedly Funny Count Ory

Barry Banks as Count Ory in his hermit disguise Jacob Lucas photo c/o Seattle Opera

Barry Banks as Count Ory in his hermit disguise
Jacob Lucas photo c/o Seattle Opera

I don’t know where to start. During the pre-performance lecture and during the performance itself, there were so many things I wanted to sayBut now it’s the next day and I only have a couple of hours before I have to move on to the next thing, and I don’t know where to start.

Well, if I have to provide a TLDR for Count Ory, I guess I would just use this video, below the fold. Continue reading