For the first time since its American Ballet Theatre premiere, “Brief Fling” is being performed with live music. The Pacific Northwest Ballet program runs through Nov. 13.
A diagonal procession upstage, in dreamy slowness, as a drumbeat fades. A trio of women, arms outstretched and heads dropped, bending their knees to the ground yet seeming, magically, to rise. A leotard-clad ensemble, pausing at the end of an intricate cats-cradle formation to face forward and extend hands, palms out — a beautifully understated “ta-da.”
The closing moments of the dances in “Brief Fling,” an evening of three contemporary works presented by Pacific Northwest Ballet, lingered with me afterward; it was as if each were a story with a haunting, perfect ending. And each dance, before that ending, took the language of classical ballet and played with it — a brief fling, you might say.
Twyla Tharp’s 1990 ballet-meets-modern work gave the evening its title and made a little history: For the first time since its American Ballet Theatre premiere, “Brief Fling” was performed with live music, and PNB’s orchestra reveled in the range of drum tattoos, delicate whimsy and dark electronica that made up the Michel Colombier/Percy Grainger score. The dancers, clad in color-coded Isaac Mizrahi tartan, demonstrated equal range: an airy pas de deux by Lesley Rausch and Jerome Tisserand; a fearless, fierce pas de quatre by the ever-airborne Leta Biasucci with Steven Loch, Jonathan Porretta and Ezra Thomson; and a breathless finale in which the colors — and the clans — seem to merge together.
Pacific Northwest Ballet, Marion Oliver McCaw Hall, 321 Mercer St., Seattle, through Nov. 13 ($30-$187; pnb.org or 206-441-2424).
Jirí Kylián’s 1981 “Forgotten Land,” first seen here in 2013, begins with the sound of a chill wind. Its dancers, the women in Martha Graham-esque long dresses, seem blown by that breeze. Set to Benjamin Britten’s deeply emotional “Sinfonia da Requiem,” it has the feeling of an elegy, and its choreography has that wealth of detail that we’ve come to expect from Kylian’s work. There are moving, wistful moments: Tisserand, partnering with Rachel Foster, rests his head on her arabesque’d leg. Seth Orza and Elizabeth Murphy seemed to be whirling alone on an empty landscape. The final trio of women seemed impeccably partnered with the music itself; it soared above them as they quietly bent, as if in prayer.
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And it was a pleasure to see the return of George Balanchine’s “Stravinsky Violin Concerto,” absent from PNB’s stage since 2001. Created in 1972, it’s a primer in Balanchine’s spare, spiky language: the abstract pas de deux (elegantly danced by Tisserand/Rausch and Noelani Pantastico/Seth Orza) that nonetheless tell a story; the intricate intertwining of the corps; the playful details — a wave, a march step, a sudden splay of fingers. Everything about this work feels unexpected, no matter how many times you’ve seen it; from beginning to that waiting-to-exhale end.