McCaw Hall, Seattle, WA
September 26, 2015
While I don’t know whether choreographer Christopher Wheeldon ever spent much time as a child at the seashore, his PNB creation, Tide Harmonic, certainly indicates that he has nevertheless absorbed the nature and lessons of its beauty, mystery, and joy. The complete abandon with which it is possible to enjoy the seashore while running at full tilt — barefoot and eyes open to the sparkling water — are readily apprehended in this work.
Tide Harmonic is even more enjoyable than at its premiere in 2013. The opening with the men charging sideways across the stage in a sharp drop to second position plié, and a very quick pas de bourrée impresses as crabs or other low-tide creatures bounding their way. It was actually rather exciting. With this neat material, Wheeldon could have built a long section for the men alone. But in come the women as if beautiful seahorses, and when the four couples pair, they often seem to be inundated by the incoming waves that go in cycles or a rhythm of three.
The whole cast excelled, with newly promoted soloist Joshua Grant and principal dancer Maria Chapman featured prominently.
Everyone loves a good cathartic moment and George Balanchine’s great 1929 masterwork, The Prodigal Son, provides just that. The entire 40 minute ballet builds to the Prodigal’s return. Instead of the Father running to embrace the Son, the prodigal instead crawls on his knees to the Father and climbs up his torso, is embraced and wrapped in the his cloak. The audience audibly sighed and it was wonderful. Not a dry eye in the house. James Moore was a terrific Prodigal, acting and dancing his way from fresh-faced and rebellious youth, seeking out his own fortune to being broken, robbed, and in need of the healing and the center that only home can provide
The strange and exotic role of The Siren was danced by Laura Tisserand whose portrayal shows the character as more than just a seducer whose goal is only to cheat and rob. She does get away with the goods, but not without seeming to show some degree of remorse and regret before launching into the series of small events that bring the Prodigal down.
The Prodigal’s “Friends,” who turn on him and become like the goonies who strip him of everything were enthusiastically danced by Ryan Cardea and Ezra Thomson.
Who could not laugh and enjoy the sight-gags and non sequiturs and the humor of Jerome Robbins’ 1956 small masterpiece, The Concert (or, The Perils of Everybody)? As they say about comedy, “timing is everything,” and they could not be more right. From misplaced port de bras to fantasies being fulfilled during a normal(?) piano recital, to a woman finding her high couture hat being duplicated and worn by another, this is light piece yet provides plenty of actual dancing.
A robust program for PNB to kick-off its new and interesting season!