Please Level With Me
Sunday, 19 June 2016, 1:00 p.m.
McCaw Hall, Seattle
I cannot believe how quickly the years have passed — wasn’t it just yesterday that I attended Pacific Northwest Ballet (PNB) School’s FIRST Annual Performance at UW’s Meany Hall? I loved — and thought it was so smart and important — that it began with class level demonstration at the ballet barre. Instructive, wonderful, and so well done, reminding us all what goes into the training and teaching of ballet students and dancers — how long it takes, how hard it is, and the joys of moving and expression at the same time.
With the 2016 edition upon us, Act I consisted of danced class level demonstrations as well, sans the ballet barre. From Level V to Level VII the students showed clearly their love of what they are doing, their thorough training, made possible by their dedicated teachers and staff. I’m always impressed by how well each teacher shows off their respective level by how nicely they move their groups around, bring each batch up to the front of the stage [where their adoring public can enjoy them] and how they integrate technique, style, the right amount of feeling to groups — using patterns and movement/step motifs.
Act II saw Eva Stone’s contemporary piece, A Way to See Where Other Things Are, to the music of Corelli; Level VIII [the highest in the School prior to the Professional Division] in a dance demonstration by Kiyon Gaines, concluding with the coup de grace of having acquired and now showing Christopher Wheeldon’s Scenes de Ballet. The latter was accompanied by the top-drawer Seattle Youth Symphony Orchestra led by the watchful eye and baton of Stephen Radcliffe.
The latter is a full-company work deploying scads of students. While seemingly geared for dancers at the pre-professional level, there is nothing “studenty” about it, and it is a work that many ballet companies would be thrilled to have.
All too soon the curtain came down on yet another PNB School season. And, as I’m fond of saying, one that was balm to my eyes.