June 30, 2012

Lucien Postlewaite leaves Pacific Northwest Ballet; Sylvia Waters steps down from Ailey II; Lauren Grant and David Leventhal welcome a son



New Company, New Country

After a nine-year stint at Pacific Northwest Ballet, Lucien Postlewaite will depart in August for Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo. Postlewaite, a principal for four years, first worked with Monte Carlo director Jean-Christophe Maillot when he coached PNB’s performance of his Roméo et Juliette in 2008. “Now, the timing feels right—for the contemporary repertoire, but also the touring,” says Postlewaite. “I’m ready to fill up my passport.”

Flaunting his technique in Ulysses Dove’s Red Angels, his emotion in Olivier Wevers’ Monster for Whim W’Him, or his romantic side in Roméo et Juliette, the 28-year-old is known for his honest performances—as well as his connection with his partners. Kaori Nakamura raves about Postlewaite’s “gentle” nature, his “striving for perfection.” For Carla Körbes, “He is a strong and emotional dancer and makes you believe that we are dancing our real lives.”

PNB artistic director Peter Boal recognizes Postlewaite’s departure as a loss—“he’s that guy every visiting choreographer found inspiration in”—but also sees that he had a rich experience at PNB. A native of Santa Cruz, CA, who trained at the School of American Ballet and PNB’s school, Postlewaite danced principal roles most of his Seattle career. Boal adds, “I know that [Maillot] is a big draw—a huge, compelling force in the studio.” For his part, Postlewaite’s husband Wevers realizes that it will be difficult to separate from a soul mate (see “Putting a Ring on It,” Feb.). “He has been there for me and Whim W’Him,” says Wevers. “It is my turn to support his career.”

Postlewaite’s farewell performance in June featured him in his breakout role in Prodigal Son, and in Roméo et Juliette, with Nakamura. It is a fitting good-bye for Postlewaite. “Kaori has given me some of my most transcendent moments onstage,” he says. “I am so happy to be wrapping up my time at PNB with her in my arms.” —Gigi Berardi

Lucien Postlewaite in David Dawson’s
A Million Kisses to My Skin. Photo by © Angela Sterling, Courtesy PNB.

Passing the Torch

At the opening night of Ailey II’s New York season in April, the last under Sylvia Waters’ direction, the house was full of tears, cheers, and—before any dancing had even occured—a standing ovation.

To many dance artists, just saying the name Sylvia Waters means love in a big way. Both Alvin Ailey and Judith Jamison sought her out as a confidante, and like them, she has had a significant impact on countless dancers. On July 1, Troy Powell, mentored by Waters for 20-plus years, will succeed her as artistic director of Ailey II. Imprinted into her 38-year tenure is her nurturing, encouraging way of molding young dancers into well-rounded artists.

A New Yorker, Waters began studying modern dance in junior high, trained at the New Dance Group, and graduated from Juilliard. She danced with Donald McKayle’s company, on a European tour of Langston Hughes’ Black Nativity, and in Maurice Béjart’s company Ballet of the 20th Century. She performed with Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater from 1968 until 1975, when Ailey asked her to direct the Alvin Ailey Repertory Ensemble, later renamed Ailey II.

A Dance Magazine Award recipient in 2008, Waters had a hand in the careers of Ailey’s current artistic director, Robert Battle, whom she invited to set a work on Ailey II back in 1999; Matthew Rushing, Ailey rehearsal director; and Tracy Inman, former Ailey dancer and co-director of The Ailey School. Some others who have been helped by Waters are Ronald K. Brown, Shen Wei, Jessica Lang, and Kyle Abraham.

Following her retirement from Ailey II, Waters will conduct the new Ailey Legacy Residency for college students and lend her expertise to Battle’s New Directions Choreography Lab. And, ever the mentor, she will make time to stop by Ailey II rehearsals. —Charmaine Patricia Warren


Photo of Sylvia Waters by Colin Fowler.




Mark Morris Dance Group dancer Lauren Grant and David Leventhal, former MMDG dancer and program manager of the company’s dance program for people with Parkinson’s disease (see “Transitions,” April 2011), welcomed their son Zev Louis Leventhal on March 28.


The happy parents with Zev. Photo by David Levithan, Courtesy MMDG.