Modern Masterpieces, Pacific Northwest Ballet’s March mixed-bill, delivers repertory giants and a world premiere. Artistic Director Peter Boal’s desire to curate new choreographic collections paved the way for works by Ulysses Dove and Twyla Tharp to enter PNB’s repertory. In Dancing on the Front Porch of Heaven, Dove’s ode to love and loss, the pairing and parting of three couples is illuminated in still pools of white light. Aerobic-clad “stompers” and ankle-socked ballerinas convene under arena-rock haze for Tharp’s In the Upper Room, an exuberant full-court assault from the 80s. Concerto Barocco, George Balanchine’s testament to the mathematical beauty of Bach, achieves flawless form via Francia Russell, one of the first ballet masters chosen by Balanchine to stage his works. And PNB’s own Paul Gibson (The Piano Dance) unveils Mozart Pieces, a new work sensitively crafted to the dancers he knows best.
The show runs for seven performances only, from March 15 through 24 at Seattle Center’s Marion Oliver McCaw Hall. Tickets start at $28 and may be purchased by calling 206.441.2424, in person at the PNB Box Office at 301 Mercer Street, or online at pnb.org.
Of this landmark piece, Balanchine himself stated: “The only preparation possible is a knowledge of its music [Johann Sebastian Bach’s Double Violin Concerto in D minor], for Concerto Barocco has no ‘subject matter’ beyond the score to which it is danced and the particular dancers who execute it.” Masterfully reflecting Bach’s polyphonic structure and development of musical voices—the brilliant interplay of the two solo violins with the chamber orchestra, and with each other—Balanchine’s choreography is as complex and pure as the music itself. But, as many viewers have noted, the ballet is no literal reproduction of Bach’s great score. Rather, it is movement related so ingeniously to the music’s inner workings that it seems an extra line of counterpoint or a partner in a subtle dialogue.
Dancing on the Front Porch of Heaven
Music: Arvo Part
Choreography: Ulysses Dove
Staging: Eva Safstrom
Set for three couples in white unitards and subtitled Odes to Love and Loss, Dancing on the Front Porch of Heaven was choreographed for the Royal Swedish Ballet in 1993 and received its U.S. premiere in 1996 at the For the Love of Dove benefit in New York. According to New York Times dance critic Jennifer Dunning, Dove “suggests a broken flow of relationships by placing his solos and duets in a chain of white spotlights.” Dove himself explained, “To me, Arvo Pärt’s music can send souls to heaven. I want to tell an experience in movement, a story without words, and create a poetic monument over people I loved.”
The 2006 Pacific Northwest Ballet premiere of Ulysses Dove’s Dancing on the Front Porch of Heaven was generously underwritten in part by Glenn Kawasaki and Winona & Robert Nilan.
In the Upper Room
Music: Philip Glass, arranged by Kurt Munkacsi
Choreography: Twyla Tharp
Staging: Shelley Washington
The collaboration of Philip Glass and Twyla Tharp united two stars of contemporary music and dance. Commissioned by Tharp for her newly structured company, Twyla Tharp Dance, In the Upper Room previewed as an untitled work-in-progress on July 7, 1986, at the Saratoga Arts Center Little Theater, where the audience’s enthusiasm and subsequent reviews immediately hailed it as a new, dynamic creation. Divided into nine segments, In the Upper Room features thirteen dancers, whose costumes evolve from black and white to dominant red, in a variety of groupings and abstract styles (some on pointe, some in sneakers) that culminates in a dazzling finale for the entire ensemble. (Notes courtesy of Twyla Tharp Productions. Used by permission.)
The 2007 Pacific Northwest Ballet premiere of Twyla Tharp’s In the Upper Room was generously underwritten by Glenn Kawasaki.
Mozart Pieces - World Premiere
Music: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Choreography: Paul Gibson
Paul Gibson's world premiere is generously underwritten in part by Deidra Wager and Bonnie Towne.
Tickets ($28 - $173) may be purchased through the PNB Box Office:
· Phone - 206.441.2424 (Mon.-Fri. 9am–6pm; Sat. 10am–5pm)
· In Person - 301 Mercer Street, Seattle (Mon.-Fri. 10am–6pm; Sat. 10am–5pm)
· Online - pnb.org (24/7)
Subject to availability, tickets are also available 90 minutes prior to each performance at McCaw Hall.