Pacific Northwest Ballet

April 14, 2005

Louise Nadeau in Paul Gibson’s
Piano Dance.
Photo by Angela Sterling

Pacific Northwest Ballet
Marion Oliver McCaw Hall, Seattle, WA

April 14–24, 2005

Reviewed by Gigi Berardi


In “American Choreographers,” Pacific Northwest Ballet presented an evening of three unapologetically happy, quick-paced works (including two world premieres), all vibrant in costume and scenic design. Choreographers Christopher Stowell, Paul Gibson, and Val Caniparoli offered ballets of substance, technical daring, and odd juxtapositions of music and movement. Also on the program was José Limón’s The Moor’s Pavane.

In Stowell’s Quick Time, company pianists Dianne Chilgren and Allan Dameron were part of the scenic design, their pianos adorned with swirls of vivid colors that matched those of the dancers’ unitards and pants, designed by Mark Zappone. Chilgren and Dameron skillfully delivered a clever repartée, working with Camille Saint-Saëns’ formal structures of neoclassical variations. Two pas de cinques led into a duet between Jonathan Poretta and Noelani Pantastico, dancing in excruciatingly slow counterbalances, as if pressing the air. Some of the most striking moves were in the upper body—flowing arms, curved spines in graceful turns—modulated by staccato point work, high kicks, and quick arabesques.

The second premiere, Paul Gibson’s The Piano Dance, was the evening’s showstopper. Different from his impressive Rush two seasons ago, which included almost the entire company, this work for four couples is no less ambitious. The piece opens with the dancers silhouetted against the cyc, which changes its vivid colors and shape with each movement. Each of 10 musical pieces presents a different mood. The synergy is delightful. The dancers displayed musicality and ease with the demanding partnering and pointe work.

In the larger group piece, Val Caniparoli’s African/Bach confection, Lambarena, lead dancer Ariana Lallone breathed life into the ballet with her beautiful line. She exaggerated every angle, as did Maria Chapman and Chalnessa Eames. Olivier Wever’s solo, bathed in white light, was a marvel of contortion and speed. Rachel Foster and Porretta, Jordon Pacitti, Pantastico and Batkhurel Bold, and Lucien Postlewaite appeared almost reckless, losing their ballet verticality. PNB deserves this Caniparoli piece, with its driving rhythms and convex jumps—a good contrast to Limón’s Pavane.

In Pavane, the dancers perform metaphoric gestures with great deliberation. Kudos to Louise Nadeau, as the Moor’s wife, who exuded dignity and grace, and, in another cast, Christophe Maraval, who played the cunning rival to Jeffrey Stanton’s weighted and emotional Moor. Maraval’s daring was palpable.

For more information: