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Originally published April 4, 2008 at 12:00 AM | Page modified April 4, 2008 at 8:02 PM

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PNB "A Midsummer Night's Dream": Teamwork saves the day in a lovely production

Pacific Northwest Ballet performed "A Midsummer Night's Dream." Principal dancer Ariana Lallone suffered an injury mid-performance; reviewed by Moira Macdonald.

Seattle Times arts critic

Repeat performances

"A Midsummer Night's Dream"

7:30 p.m. Friday; 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday; 7:30 p.m. April 10-12; 1 p.m. April 13; Pacific Northwest Ballet, McCaw Hall, 321 Mercer St., Seattle; $20-$150 (www.pnb.org or 206-441-2424).

Dance Review |

In a ballet as magical as George Balanchine's "A Midsummer Night's Dream," currently on fine display at Pacific Northwest Ballet, it's easy to forget that dancers are mortal. Ballerinas clothed in fairy wings delicately whirl on the tips of their toes; impish sprites seem to fly as they race across the forest floor; and Mendelssohn's delicious score (led off with those four haunting chords that seem to cast a spell over the production) wraps itself around the dancers, helping them soar.

And so when a little backstage magic (and quick thinking) was called for on Thursday's opening night, it was a stark reminder that, yes, sometimes reality invades. Principal dancer Ariana Lallone, dancing the role of Hippolyta with her usual soaring majesty, suffered an injury mid-performance. Audience members might have noticed a brief gap in the action (though not the music) in Act 1 or that Hippolyta, upon her return just minutes later, was performed by a different dancer; the misfortune was handled with remarkable seamlessness.

Kudos to corps de ballet member Brittany Reid, for stepping into the unexpected role with grace and calm, to PNB student Jamie Schultz for jumping into Reid's courtier role and to everyone else involved onstage and off. (Lallone injured her left calf and will not dance the remainder of the "Dream" run. Surely an entire audience's good wishes go to her for a speedy recovery.)

Staged by former PNB artistic director Francia Russell and featuring numerous beautifully trained young students from the PNB school, this "Dream" was meticulously cast and lovingly performed. Carrie Imler, as the fairy queen Titania, displayed both delicate precision and impish warmth. When she fell in love with Bottom, a commoner transformed into a donkey (played, with a fine flair for comedy, by Kiyon Gaines), her calf-eyed ardor was enchanting as she enticed him with a bouquet of grass. Jonathan Porretta, who's rapidly displaying that there's no role he can't dance the daylights out of, was a strong and regal Oberon. Josh Spell, rangy and exuberant, set the plot in motion as the mischievous sprite Puck.

The four mismatched young lovers (Maria Chapman, Kaori Nakamura, Jordan Pacitti and Casey Herd) acted out Shakespeare's tangled plot with the proper silliness and grace; Nakamura, in particular, shone in Hermia's wistful solo. And Louise Nadeau and Olivier Wevers danced the beautiful Act 2 divertissement — one of Balanchine's loveliest pas de deux — as if lit by enchanted moonlight. Nadeau, leaning into a breathlessly extended arabesque, falls gently into Wevers' arms in a movement as delicate as a sigh. Mere mortals, yes — but seemingly touched by magic.

Moira Macdonald: 206-464-2725 or mmacdonald@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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