Pacific Northwest Ballet announces its 2016-2017 season, which features the return of work by choreographer Jean-Christophe Maillot as well as the PNB premiere of a Jerome Robbins work.
Those who loved Pacific Northwest Ballet’s “Roméo et Juliette” can look forward to more from Jean-Christophe Maillot: PNB, in its just-announced 44th season, will present the local premiere of Maillot’s “Cendrillon” (“Cinderella”).
Described by PNB artistic director Peter Boal as a spare, minimalist yet playful work, “Cendrillon” features the same creative team as “R & J” — choreographer Maillot, scene designer Ernest Pignon-Ernest, costume designer Jérôme Kaplan and lighting designer Dominique Drillot — plus music by Sergei Prokofiev, who also composed “Roméo et Juliette.”
“Based on the success of ‘Roméo,’ I wanted to do a follow-up of Maillot’s choreography and give it a more contemporary spin,” said Boal. “Cendrillon” is, he notes, a rather more modern take on the fairy tale; it’s not necessarily suitable for small children. “There’s nothing inappropriate, but it may be a little racier” than what “Cinderella” audiences are used to, he said. “It’s all done in a very clever way.”
After Maillot’s Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo performed “Cendrillon” in Los Angeles in 2012 (its U.S. premiere), the Los Angeles Times described its style as “a contemporary dance language of whip-fast classicism, scooped torsos, oversized gestures and exaggerated pantomime,” complete with a “flowing, exultant pas de deux” for Cinderella and her prince. “This is not a children’s ballet,” noted the Times reviewer, “though the little princesses near me grinned contentedly.”
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The season also features a number of choreographers familiar to PNB audiences: George Balanchine, Jerome Robbins, Twyla Tharp and William Forsythe, with new-to-Seattle works from Benjamin Millepied, Alexei Ratmansky, David Dawson and Jessica Lang.
Unusually for PNB, “Cendrillon” will be the season’s only full-length narrative ballet (not counting the return of Balanchine’s “The Nutcracker,” which is not included in season subscriptions). Boal, noting that he has several full-length ballets planned for the following season, said that audiences shouldn’t take from this “that full-lengths are going the way of the Edsel.”
“I love full-lengths — they serve our company well, they bring in audiences,” he said. But the company, he said, got into a pattern of programming full-lengths quite frequently, often due to budget considerations. (Full-length ballets, in general, tend to sell better than evenings of shorter works.)
For next season, Boal’s eager to introduce PNB audiences to new works by familiar names. With an eye to the upcoming centennial of Robbins’ birth in 2018, he’ll be staging the PNB premiere of Robbins’ “Opus 19/The Dreamer” (set to Prokofiev) — a ballet Boal performed frequently, under Robbins’ direction, during his own performing days at New York City Ballet. Long term, Boal said, he’s planning a Robbins festival “not this season, but hopefully the following one.”
Balanchine fans can anticipate the PNB premiere of “La Source,” set to Léo Delibes’ score and described by Boal as “a very sweet ballet — and one of the hardest I ever danced.” Other Balanchine works include “Stravinsky Violin Concerto” (not seen here in about 15 years), the jazzy “Slaughter on Tenth Avenue” and “Symphony in C.”
Millepied, former artistic director of the Paris Opera Ballet, will be represented with two ballets: “3 Movements,” which premiered at PNB in 2008, and a new work, “Appassionata Sonata,” set to Beethoven. Ratmansky, whose “Don Quixote” and “Concerto DSCH” are favorites with PNB audiences, returns with “Pictures at an Exhibition” (2014) set to Modest Mussorgsky’s music and inspired by the paintings of Wassily Kandinsky.
New subscriptions and renewals for the 2016-17 season, which begins Sept. 23, are currently on sale; see pnb.org for details (and starting on Tuesday, Feb. 16, the full season lineup). Individual tickets for “The Nutcracker” go on sale May 18; single-ticket sales for the new season begin July 18.