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By Gigi Berardi
40 years of PNB
Pacific Northwest Ballet is celebrating its 40th anniversary with six world premieres, tours, and the return of nearly a dozen former PNB dancers to the stage. Guest appearances by Patricia Barker, Louise Nadeau, Jeffrey Stanton, Olivier Wevers, and others can be considered a validation of what artistic director Peter Boal is doing—and vice versa. For Barker, now artistic director of Grand Rapids Ballet, “To be on the Seattle stage once again was like coming home for the holidays. It was filled with joyful memories, and a sense of proud accomplishment to be part of the continued good work.”
At left: Carla Körbes of PNB rehearsing Maillot’s Roméo et Juliette. Photo © Angela Sterling, Courtesy PNB.
This season the company tours to Spoleto, Victoria, Las Vegas—and to New York City with the full company for the first time in 17 years. The New York engagement at City Center includes Apollo, staged by artistic director Peter Boal, and Concerto Barocco and Agon, staged by Francia Russell. The company also dances Jean-Christophe Maillot’s mesmerizing Roméo et Juliette. Music director Emil de Cou will conduct the 60-member PNB orchestra.
“An important part of our identity remains Balanchine,” says Boal. “From founding artistic forces Janet Reed and then Melissa Hayden to the 28-year tenure of Francia Russell and Kent Stowell—who continue to stage works here—the Balanchine repertory continues to build.” Of PNB’s 40 Balanchine ballets, Boal has acquired nine.
But he also has added the work of more than 20 choreographers new to the company. And with two-thirds of the dancers having been hired by Boal since his arrival seven years ago, PNB is most certainly a different company. In guiding PNB, “It’s been important for me to experiment with choreography,” says Boal. “Could we do [David] Parsons’ Caught and also act in Roméo et Juliette or sing in West Side Story? This is how I find out who the company is and then lead the company to what they could be tomorrow.”