Dance review: PNB debuts a cool, fierce "3 Movements"
Benjamin Millepied's "3 Movements" makes an exciting debut at Pacific Northwest Ballet. Also on the bill: Mark Morris' "A Garden," Kiyon Gaines' "M-Pulse" and William Forsythe's "One flat thing, reproduced."
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On the Internet
Watch video of Benjamin Millepied's "3 Movements" inrehearsalatwww.benjaminmillepied.com.
"New Works"Pacific Northwest Ballet, 7:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday and Nov. 13-15, 2 p.m. Saturday, 1 p.m. Nov. 16, McCaw Hall, Seattle Center; $25-$155 (206-441-2424 or www.pnb.org).
Dance Review |
A ballet program titled "New Works" brings a crackle of excitement: Will we see something that will pull us forward in our chairs, marveling at some combination of movement and music that's startlingly new and fresh? On Thursday night at Pacific Northwest Ballet, the answer was a resounding yes — and it came from a young choreographer making his PNB debut, from Bordeaux, France by way of New York.
Benjamin Millepied's world premiere "3 Movements," set to Steve Reich's minimalist score (played with stirring urgency by the PNB orchestra), is designed in shades of gray and danced with a whipped-up fierceness; its 16 dancers seemingly lit by cool fire. You can see in it hints of Millepied's New York City Ballet precursors — the low-to-the ground, swingy menace of Jerome Robbins' "West Side Story"; the whirling, almost mad circle of the ensemble, reminiscent of the last moments of George Balanchine's "La Valse."
But Millepied here has created something entirely his own, showing a remarkable gift for shaping groups of dancers: a crowd of 16 suddenly becomes two separate, moving tides. (Though "3 Movements" is an abstract work, little moments of narrative pervade it; at one point, a man climbs to another man's shoulders to watch a group of whirling women). Carla Körbes and Batkhurel Bold dance a pas de deux both moody and tempestuous, her head falling back as if swept away by a wave. At the end, the cast runs upstage and through a series of gray-and-black streamers that had served as a prisonlike backdrop; breaking both a wall and a powerful spell.
PNB corps de ballet dancer Kiyon Gaines' "M-Pulse," also making its world premiere, suffers a bit in comparison; it's the work of a promising choreographer still in the making, an interesting collection of movement set to music, rather than a cohesive whole. Set to Cristina Spinei's percussive, pulsing score and beautifully costumed (the women preen in peacock-blue) and lit by Mark Zappone and Randall G. Chiarelli, it is filled with wheeling arms and often dazzlingly frenetic movement.
Carrie Imler, in an inventive solo that takes up much of the work's third movement, danced as if some impulse compelled her arms and legs to whirl in all directions. Even standing still, one leg extended in développé, her constant motion seemed to continue.
Mark Morris' exquisite baroque ballet "A Garden," choreographed in 2001 to a Richard Strauss score, opened the evening as a PNB premiere. Its mood of somber celebration and delicate, often witty steps showed off the dancers' precise technique, most notably Jonathan Porretta (whose series of small, controlled jumps was a thing of beauty) and Benjamin Griffiths. William Forsythe's table-thumping "One flat thing, reproduced," seen at PNB last spring, opened the evening.
Movingly, PNB's program insert dedicated the evening to Edward McMichael, the "Tuba Man," who died tragically this week after decades of serenading patrons outside the Opera House. An assortment of flowers lay near the lobby door in remembrance; a bright spot, in a night full of rain.
Moira Macdonald: 206-464-2725 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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