PNB does Twyla Tharp proud
Pacific Northwest Ballet delivered an all-Twyla Tharp program Friday, which continues through Sunday. Tharp herself attended the opening. The show includes "Opus 111" and "Afternoon Ball" both created here by Tharp for PNB in 2008.
Seattle Times arts writer
'All Tharp'Pacific Northwest Ballet, 7:30 p.m. Thursday- Saturday, 1 p.m. Sunday, McCaw Hall, 321 Mercer St., Seattle; $27-$165 (206-441-2424 or www.pnb.org).
Twyla Tharp returned to Seattle Friday at Pacific Northwest Ballet, both in the flesh — there she was, just across the aisle, leaning in intently and swaying a bit with the music — and in the repertory. Three works by the legendary contemporary choreographer were presented in "All Tharp," representing the range of her lithe imagination: a folk-flavored pastoral; a darkly punk romantic fantasy; a giddy, quirky water-follies romp.
The first two ballets, "Opus 111" and "Afternoon Ball," were created here by Tharp for PNB in 2008. "Opus 111" is the sort of deceptively gentle work that gets more complex with each viewing, filled with unexpectedly flexed feet, off-center turns, coiling arms, jumps with one leg landing while the other seems still in flight. It is set to a series of Brahms string quintets. Its 12 dancers come and go in varying groups, at one point dancing meditatively in a loose line, side by side but moving alone.
Ariana Lallone, who has announced her departure from PNB after this season, reminded us how much she'll be missed, in bits of brief, soaring partner work with Karel Cruz. Seeing this tallest of ballerinas lifted to the skies felt almost miraculous, with arms ever-reaching; on the ground, she showed a serene lightness and joy.
"Afternoon Ball" stood in sharp contrast; it grabbed you immediately and left you unexpectedly moved. To a haunting, string-plucked score by Vladimir Martynov, three punked-out loners — Jonathan Porretta, Chalnessa Eames, Olivier Wevers — whirled in separate pools of light, alone in an uninviting world. Mouths frequently open in silent screams, they defiantly kicked, skipped and twirled like sad dervishes, pushing away the cold.
In waltzed a couple (Lallone and Jeffrey Stanton) in 19th-century attire, a picture of something long gone. Porretta's character, immersed in his dream, began to move like them, finding a kind of nobility. Beautifully danced by all five — particularly Porretta with his casually perfect jumps, and Wevers' manic elegance — "Afternoon Ball" built to a haunting climax, as close to sentimental as Tharp might get, yet perfectly in character with the piece.
"Waterbaby Bagatelles," which premiered at Boston Ballet in 1994 (seen previously at PNB in 2006), is a glorious symphony of wiggles and swoops, set to a variety of recorded music and performed by a fleet of bobbling dancers in aqua-hued swimwear. Special note should be made of Carla Körbes and Cruz's velvety pas de deux; Batkhurel Bold's debonair, soaring solo work with a chorus of bathing beauties behind him; Carrie Imler's radiant hanging-in-the-air jumps, performed with an effortless calm; and an irresistible line of PNB men as they pranced through a bouncy, funky series of having-a-ball solos. In all three ballets, these dancers wore Tharp well.
Moira Macdonald: 206-464-2725 or email@example.com
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