Pacific Northwest Ballet
McCaw Hall
Seattle, WA

February 4, 2024 evening
Swan Lake

Dean Speer

Swan Lake, by any measure, is monumental, “enormous” as stated by Margot Fonteyn. Such is Pacific Northwest Ballet’s production with choreography and staging by Kent Stowell and Francia Russell (who were “in the house” and who sat a couple of rows in front of me – I was thrilled to espy them). Set designs are by Ming Cho Lee and immediately set up, through their being off-kilter, that all is not​ well in this fairy tale world. Costumes are first-class stunningly gorgeous designs by Paul Tazewell.

Cecilia Iliesiu and Dylan Wald,
and Pacific Northwest Ballet in Kent Stowell’s “Swan Lake”
Photo by Angela Sterling

Let’s get it out of the way up front – our Odile strongly executed 26 fouettés during the Act III Black Swan Grand Pas de Deux. I recall a former principal at PNB who never did more than 27 – she’d actually wait a bit off stage and entered during the fouetté music – smart as she knew herself and could then finish with the music. Cecilia Illiesiu’s technique is very good, clean and strong, as is her Prince Siegfried partner, Dylan Wald. In terms of interpretation, I found Illiesiu’s Odile to have been her “jam” and her Odette, good, but a little on the bland side. She gave herself completely to the choreography, but I would have liked more overt emoting, of course without over-acting; a delicate balance perhaps. Wald is built and trained to be a prince, with his acting best in the concluding lakeside tragic scene.

Cecilia Iliesiu and Dylan Wald,
with Pacific Northwest Ballet
in Kent Stowell’s “Swan Lake”.
Photo by Angela Sterling

I don’t get to Seattle often these days, having moved away in May of 2023, so I was pleased to feel “home” and not only enjoy reacquainting myself with dancers with whom I was familiar but also enjoy getting to know company dancers that were relatively new to my eye. These include Miles Pertl’s “Wolfgang,” the “Benno” of Luther DeMyer, Ezra Thomson as both a friend of the Prince and also the male half of Act III’s Neapolitan Dance (with Juliet Prine), and Elle Macy’s long, soulful Persian Dance in the same act.

Outstanding and committed to everything is Ashton Edwards, whose career I’ve been following. Edwards does both so-called male and female roles and it’s, to me, great to see and witness. From being an Act I Courtier to being one of the iconic Four Little Swans – which got a HUGE cheer before it even began (la vox populi getting to know ballet!) to being smitten with the Prince as the British Princess, practically swooning upon being introduced – yes, I noticed!

Malena Ani, Yuki Takahashi, Madison Rayn Abeo,
and Clara Ruf Maldonado in Kent Stowell’s “Swan Lake”
Photo by Angela Sterling

With full company, extras (mostly the Courtiers), a lavish production, the famous PNB Orchestra, and a supporting “cast” of an enthusiastic audience, PNB’s Swan Lake is a rendition of a classic as its best and not to be missed.