Take Five...More or Less

Music: Dave Brubeck (Blue Rondo a la Turk and Strange Meadow Lark, 1959) and Paul Desmond (Take Five, 1959), orchestrated by Doug Besterman
Choreography: Susan Stroman
Costume Design: William Ivey Long
Lighting Design: Randall G. Chiarelli
Duration: 13 minutes
Premiere: April 17, 2008; Pacific Northwest Ballet (Laugh Out Loud! Festival)

The 2008 world premiere of TAKE FIVE…More or Less was generously underwritten by Bruce & Jolene McCaw.

Peter Boal invited Tony Award-winning Broadway choreographer Susan Stroman to create a new work for the Company’s Laugh Out Loud! Festival in April 2008. She accepted and the result was TAKE FIVE…More or Less, an ensemble piece for eleven dancers set to the famous jazz scores of Dave Brubeck and Paul Desmond.

Jeffrey Stanton in TAKE FIVE...
More or Less
. Photo © Angela Sterling

Stroman's starting point was the idea that artists never really "take five." Their art is always with them, even when they are asleep—witness the "nighttime" section of the ballet, featuring Miranda Weese dancing over the heads of the "sleeping" dancers.

Tony Award-winning Broadway director and choreographer Susan Stroman is the recipient of five Tony Awards, two Olivier Awards, five Drama Desk Awards, eight Outer Critics Circle Awards, a record four Astaire Awards and the Lucille Lortel Award. In 2004, Ms. Stroman created the full-length ballet Double Feature for New York City Ballet, featuring the music of Irving Berlin and Walter Donaldson. She has also created the ballets Blossom Got Kissed for New York City Ballet's 50th anniversary season and But Not For Me for the Martha Graham Company.

Ms. Stroman directed and choreographed The Producers, winner of a record twelve Tony Awards, including Best Direction and Best Choreography. She also co-created, directed and choreographed the groundbreaking musical Contact for Lincoln Center Theater, winning the 2000 Tony Award for Best Musical and a 2003 Emmy Award for Live at Lincoln Center. In 2000, she received the American Choreography Award for her work in Columbia Pictures’ feature film, Center Stage. In 2007, Ms. Stroman directed and choreographed the premiere of the musical Young Frankenstein in Seattle and on Broadway. TAKE FIVE … More or Less is Ms. Stroman's first work for Pacific Northwest Ballet.

Jazz legend Dave Brubeck founded the experimental Jazz Workshop Ensemble, which recorded in 1949 as the Dave Brubeck Octet. In 1958, Brubeck and his colleagues achieved overwhelming popular success as the Dave Brubeck Quartet. The Quartet's experimentation with time signatures unusual to jazz produced works like Blue Rondo a la Turk and Take Five, introducing millions of enthusiastic young listeners to unexplored regions of jazz.

Paul Desmond (1924–1977), San Francisco-born jazz alto saxophonist and composer, is best known for his work with the Dave Brubeck Quartet and for penning that group’s greatest hit, Take Five. Known for his idiosyncratic wit, Desmond was one of the most popular musicians to come out of the West Coast's "cool jazz" scene.

Recommended Listening:
TIME OUT: The Dave Brubeck Quartet, Sony, 1997


Notes by Doug Fullington.

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