Pacific Northwest Ballet
McGaw Hall
Seattle, WA

April 14, 2018
Emergence Program: Little mortal jump; RAkU, Emergence

Dean Speer

Programs often have a different feel and sense to them and programming itself can be a tricky prospect, as you ideally want to program ballets so they contrast and compare, yet blend and show off each with distinction. If you have ballets that are too similar, for example, this does not do either any favor. It makes bland what should stand out.

Pacific Northwest Ballet dancers in Crystal Pite's "Emergence" Photo by Angela Sterling

Pacific Northwest Ballet dancers
in Crystal Pite’s “Emergence”
Photo by Angela Sterling

Pacific Northwest Ballet’s Emergence program in April did not suffer from blandness; instead each ballet was well-programmed and quite strong unto itself.

Pacific Northwest Ballet dancers Elizabeth Murphy and Dylan Wald in Alejandro Cerrudo’s "Little mortal jump" Photo by Angela Sterling

Pacific Northwest Ballet dancers
Elizabeth Murphy and Dylan Wald
in Alejandro Cerrudo’s
“Little mortal jump”
Photo by Angela Sterling

The program started with Alejandro Cerrudo’s Little mortal jump as a super opener — light, witty, and filled with visual surprises and non-sequiturs — such as the first cast member running from the audience, going on stage, and then jumping into the orchestra pit (is this the “little mortal jump?”), two dancers being glued (through Velcro) onto a stage flat, and huge boxes spinning around the stage and they themselves concluding the ballet. It was wild but controlled fun throughout.

I’ve known Yuri Possokhov for a long time and have enjoyed watching first his dancing at San Francisco Ballet and over the past few years, his trajectory as a choreographer. With his RAkU Mr. Possokhov tackles difficult subject matter — sexual assault within the context of the burning of Kyoto’s Golden Pavilion (pagoda) in 1950.

Pacific Northwest Ballet dancers in Yuri Possokhov's "RAkU" Photo by Angela Sterling

Pacific Northwest Ballet dancers
in Yuri Possokhov’s “RAkU”
Photo by Angela Sterling

RAkU is a very strong ballet with performances of great depth. Lead cast members included Lindsi Dec as the newly-married Princess; her Samurai Karel Cruz; and the villainous Monk, Steven Loch. I enjoyed the quartet of Samurai Warriors left to guard the palace (they guarded it not very well, I might add), and I enjoyed Possokhov’s use of Graham-like sculptural movement.

Pacific Northwest Ballet dancers Lindsi Dec and Karel Cruz in Crystal Pite’s "Emergence" Photo by Angela Sterling

Pacific Northwest Ballet dancers
Lindsi Dec and Karel Cruz
in Crystal Pite’s “Emergence”
Photo by Angela Sterling

Crystal Pite’s Emergence has become a hot commodity, as has Pite herself. This is my third viewing of this amazingly creative work — depicting life in a hive, in the context of ballet vocabulary. A large group work, the PNB dancers really eat it up. And when they swarm (as they do toward  the end), it’s exciting and also a bit scary.

The Emergence program captured my interest and imagination. PNB proves once again that the spirit, relevance, and freshness of ballet is ever with us and that it does make a difference.