In Chinese tradition, a “dim sum” meal adds a “little heart” to your day, a tasty array of tidbits that buoy you up and refresh the soul.
Pacific Northwest Ballet’s current program, All Wheeldon at Seattle Center’s McCaw Hall, might be called a “dim sum” for the company’s fans, certain to warm your heart at one moment or other, no matter your preferences in ballet.
Although all the pieces are choreographed by the same man, Christopher Wheeldon, the collection of four dances ranges widely through ballet’s many permutations.
For lovers of the classical and story ballet, Wheeldon constructed two completely different tales.
Carousel (A Dance) tells a bittersweet story of doomed young love, set to Richard Rodgers’ lush musical score. In the dance’s most striking moment, the dancers become the carousel, swirling around the young couple (a naïve town girl and a smooth-talking carney), separating them, joining them, entrancing them, and ultimately whirling them away to a fate left more vague here than in the original.
If you prefer to ignore the strands of sad music soulfully emerging from the pit and assume that they run off to open a clam chowder shack, feel free to add your own happy ending after the curtain comes down. Or go find a copy of the original musical to learn their destiny.
In the role of the girl, Carla Korbes definitely captured the blonde pony-tailed innocence and romantic wistfulness last Saturday. Her dancing, as always, was superb, but this performance also suggested that Korbes is beginning to blossom as an actress as well, taking the emotional strength of her roles to new heights.
As the carney, Seth Orza’s matinee good looks and strong partnering skills made him a fine carefree seductive devil who finally traps himself.
Carousel opened the evening and the other story ballet, Variations Seriueses, finished it on a giggly high note.
In this piece, a prima ballerina battles the company and the upcoming “Young Girl” as various members of the troupe suffer the usual trials and tribulations of dress rehearsal and opening night.
Carrie Imler, who never dances enough comedy in the season, put herself squarely in the lunatic limelight, imperiously sweeping through the company as the star who knows somebody is out to get her. Seth Orza popped up again, as the handsome premier danseur, and the equally lovely Sarah Ricard Orza became his delicate partner in stardom as the young girl.
A host of chuckle-worthy character turns included Kiyon Gaines as the ballet master and Linsi Dec as the stage manager, but a very special tip of the broom has to go to four PNB professional division students playing the “crew” who get swept up in their own ballet dreams: Isaac Aoki, Andy Garcia, Charles McCall, and Jordan Veit.
For those who prefer their ballet modern, athletic, and stripped down to the emotional core, there’s the terrific After the Rain pas de deux, performed by Rachel Foster and James Moore last Saturday, and the sprawling Polyphonia featuring four couples who seem like forty in the acrobatic patterns created on the stage. Particularly strong was Kaori Nakumura’s partnering with Benjamin Griffiths and her trio work with Foster and Sarah Ricard Orza.
The final four performances of All Wheeldon begin tonight (Sept. 29) and continue through Sunday at McCaw Hall, 321 Mercer Street. For more information about this and the rest of PNB’s season, see www.pnb.org.