Three new-to-Seattle works are in Pacific Northwest Ballet’s current season-ending rep — “La Source,” “Opus 19/The Dreamer,” “Pictures at an Exhibition” — and all are terrific, writes critic Moira Macdonald.
Watching Jerome Robbins’ “Opus 19/The Dreamer” is like being caught in a ballet dream; you emerge haunted, dazzled, changed. Its central dancer (James Moore, excellent as always), in white, moves slowly among the blue-clad corps, like he’s pushing through water, or making his way through heavier air. A partner (Noelani Pantastico, ditto) emerges, and they dance together yet in separate worlds. The music — a Prokofiev violin concerto — shimmers, at once angular and yearning; the dancers create a mood of dazed beauty.
The centerpiece of a terrific program of three new-to-Seattle works in Pacific Northwest Ballet’s current season-ending rep, “Opus 19/The Dreamer” (choreographed in 1979, for Mikhail Baryshnikov) has been a long time coming. Artistic director Peter Boal, who danced the lead role under Robbins’ guidance at New York City Ballet, chose it for his retirement performance there in 2005, and has spoken of bringing it to PNB’s stage for many years.
It’s worth the wait. Robbins, that master of drama, here creates a work of exquisite abstraction, punctuated with details that contribute to the disorienting feeling: an unexpected flexed foot; a pirouette with arms pressed down, seeming to bore into the floor; an ever-moving corps flitting on and offstage behind the Dreamer, creating constant sculpture. The final pose — Moore and Pantastico alone on stage, each cradling the other’s head with an eloquent hand, while the other arm extends out — blooms like a night flower. You pause to breathe with it, before the tumultuous applause begins.
Pacific Northwest Ballet: ‘Pictures at an Exhibition’
Through June 11 at McCaw Hall, Seattle; $30-$187 (206-441-2424 or pnb.org).
Alexei Ratmansky’s 2014 ballet “Pictures at an Exhibition,” set to the well-known Mussorgsky score of that name (played elegantly by Allan Dameron on solo piano), appeared as a burst of color, with an ever-changing backdrop inspired by a Wassily Kandinsky painting. Ten dancers — in solos, pairs and groups — parade across the stage in a series of vignettes; some goofy, some poignant, some joyful. As with all of Ratmansky’s ballets, the work feels beautifully populated and detailed. A particular standout was the delicate, birdlike pas de deux by Karel Cruz and Elizabeth Murphy, performed in such quiet you could hear their breathing, and ending in a press lift that was a thing of beauty.
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The evening began, as all evenings at the ballet should, with George Balanchine. “La Source,” choreographed in 1968, is a quiet work of immense charm. Carrie Imler, who’s retiring from PNB next week, looked like she’d happily dance all night with partner Jerome Tisserand; she’s a ballerina of powerhouse strength who demonstrated finely wrought delicacy here, her feet barely seeming to graze the floor. It’s not a showoffy ballet; the jumps are small and the turns display precision more than breakneck speed. Imler, a rapturous smile on her face, made it all seem airily simple, particularly a long promenade in arabesque ending in an effortless balance. For a second, it lasted forever — if only a ballet, and a dancer, could.