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Originally published November 4, 2006 at 12:00 AM | Page modified November 4, 2006 at 1:00 AM

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Dance

An exuberant bill that's built to thrill

In his long career with New York City Ballet, Peter Boal performed the work of both proven masters and up-and-coming stars. Now Pacific Northwest Ballet...

Seattle Times arts critic

In his long career with New York City Ballet, Peter Boal performed the work of both proven masters and up-and-coming stars. Now Pacific Northwest Ballet is the beneficiary of his experience: Boal, as the company's artistic director, is bringing along some of his favorite choreographers. In "All Premiere," a stirring and often thrilling collection of ballets new to PNB, four of those artists were featured, in an evening whose energy built to an exuberant peak.

Ulysses Dove's beautifully titled "Dancing on the Front Porch of Heaven," a meditative ballet set to Arvo Pärt (the same music used in Susan Marshall's "Kiss," seen here last season), began the evening. Six dancers moved in and out of white-lit pools, in various pairings or alone in their own light. At one point, the three white-clad women seemed to form a guiding procession, reminiscent of the muses in Balanchine's "Apollo." The dance, its movements suggesting sorrow and loss, is a gentle counterpart to Dove's zinging, wild "Red Angels" last season; both remind that this artist, who died in 1996 while still in his 40s, was a talent lost too soon.

Peter Martins' melancholy "Valse Triste" created a whisper-soft world of its own, even as the Sibelius score become stormy. A brief pas de deux, it showed off Louise Nadeau's ethereal, floating quality as partner Jeffrey Stanton whisked her through the air.

Victor Quijada's world premiere "Suspension of Disbelief" made the audience blink: Curtains and backdrops were raised, exposing stagehands and ropes, while the cast strolled on and off. The energy was loose and twisty, as 11 dancers playfully shoved each other, jumped sideways onto one another and off again, or leaned in and out of deliberately off-center spins.

Though not without an occasional ballet movement — an arabesque, whooshing up toward the sky — this piece's roots are in modern dance and hip-hop grooves. Jonathan Porretta, in a wondrous solo like a sped-up chain of unexpected movements, seemed impossibly fluid, his head or his hands initiating a visible ripple of energy, dancing on his arms as easily as his legs. The audience roared approval, rising for the first of two standing ovations.

Twyla Tharp's "Waterbaby Bagatelles," a delicious Aqua Follies-ish romp filled with Tharp's signature humor, closed the evening. Dancers in retro swimsuits seemed to playfully splash in the light, giddily catching the dance's sense of fun. The PNB men took center stage here, in a series of happy showoff solos aimed at those bathing-capped girls; shimmying and hopping like a giggle translated to movement. Never mind the rainy night; the audience went home joyful, wondering what treats Boal — in a season with 21 planned premieres — has next in store.

Moira Macdonald: 206-464-2725

Now playing

"All Premiere," mixed bill with "Dancing on the Front Porch of Heaven," "Valse Triste," "Suspension of Disbelief" and "Waterbaby Bagatelles," 7:30 p.m. tonight and Nov. 9-11, 2 p.m. today, 1 p.m. Nov. 12, Pacific Northwest Ballet, Marion Oliver McCaw Hall, 321 Mercer St., Seattle; $18-$145 (206-441-2424 or www.pnb.org).

or mmacdonald@seattletimes.com

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