PNB Blog Entries

Below are past entries from the PNB Blog. Visit the blog for for insider information on what's happening, commentary by artistic staff, and news & events! You can also follow PNB's recent blog entries on PNB's Facebook Fan Page.

Inside the Ballet: A Midsummer Night's Dream at Pacific Northwest Ballet

By (Pacific Northwest Ballet)
Wednesday, Apr 16 at 1:51 PM

Principal dancer Lesley Raush as Titania (center) lounges in a conch shell under a bower of roses with her fairy court of PNB Company dancers.  

Dear Friends,

As the hints of mid-summer weather start to be felt, along comes George Balanchine's enchanting production of A Midsummer Night's Dream. This production is unique to PNB, not in choreography, but in the wondrous set and costume designs created for us by Martin Pakledinaz. Marty chose designs elements that were particular to the Northwest, like giant spiders, hanging fog, conch shells, and moss.

Corps de ballet dancer Chelsea Adomaitis with PNB Company dancers. 
A Midsummer Night's Dream was originally staged for PNB by Susan Hendl and Sara Leland with Francia Russell. Francia still oversees the production each time PNB performs it. On April 19th, PNB marked its 101st performance of the ballet.

PNB soloist Benjamin Griffiths as Oberon. 
There are 25 children in every show. Balanchine often elected to use children as his corps de ballet, as evidenced in Coppélia, HarlequinadeA Midsummer Night's Dream and The Nutcracker. His choreography for children is appropriately challenging and charming.

PNBS Professional Division students Grace Haskins, Angeli Mamon and Amy Young who all perform corps de ballet roles in the production today, started out as bugs.

Principal dancer Lesley Raush as Titania with PNB Company dancers.
Our Hippolytas actually have two bows. They use a slightly smaller one for their fouette turns. They are also looking through a scrim, dancing in dry ice and wearing a cornucopia on their heads. Please don't try this at home.

Corps de ballet dancer Brittany Reid as Hiippolyta. 
There are 28 role debuts in this run. (Find this weekend's casting here!)

Principal dancer Lindsi Dec as Helena with soloist Jerome Tisserand as Lysander.
Pucks get an additional $60 in hazard pay each time they fly. There are five Pucks and 13 flights, including rehearsals. Cha-ching.

Corps de ballet dancers Leta Biasucci and Price Suddarth with Company dancers. 
It's estimated that our female Company dancers and Professional Division students will wear 350 pairs of pointe shoe during this run of Midsummer. At $80 a pair, that's a whole lot of cha-ching! Coincidentally, I'll be making a request of our audiences to consider supporting our pointe shoe bill through gifts to PNB's annual fund. When you grab your tickets, you might want to bring your checkbook, too!

Principal dancers Kaori Nakamura and Seth Orza in the Divertissement pas de deux. 
Seriously, you will love these performances. Balanchine, Shakespeare, Mendelssohn, Russell, Pakledinaz, Chiarelli, the PNB Orchestra, Dancers and School make for the most magical experience of the season.

See you at the ballet! - Peter


PNB Artistic Director Peter Boal's Staging of Giselle

By (Pacific Northwest Ballet)
Wednesday, Apr 02 at 12:47 PM

Principal dancer Carla Körbes as Giselle
Pacific Northwest Ballet’s 2011 production of Giselle has been staged by PNB artistic director Peter Boal, based in part on primary sources from Paris and St. Petersburg, with the assistance of dance historians Marian Smith and Doug Fullington. In 2014, new scenery and costumes designed by Jérôme Kaplan will be added to the production.
Principal dancers Carrie Imler (right) and Carla Körbes in Giselle.

Giselle is widely acknowledged as the greatest ballet of the Romantic era. Premiering in Paris in 1841, Giselle tells the story of a peasant girl who dies of a broken heart after her fiancé is revealed to be a nobleman in disguise. In death, she joins the ranks of the Wilis, supernatural maidens who died before the wedding days and are doomed to take their revenge on men for eternity. In a miraculous display of love beyond the grave, Giselle saves her betrothed from certain death at the hands of her ghostly sisters. The ballet epitomizes the Romantic age with its idealization of country life, fascination with the supernatural, and obsession with the idea of the unattainable woman.
Principal dancers Carla Körbes and Karel Cruz in Giselle.
The sources utilized for Pacific Northwest Ballet's Giselle include a repetiteur (rehearsal score) believed to have been prepared in Paris, circa 1842, to assist in the staging of Giselle in St. Petersburg that year. The repetiteur includes detailed information relating to the action of the ballet and how it relates to the score by French composer Adolphe Adam. Another primary French source is a complete notation of Giselle likely made in 1860’s Paris by Henri Justamant. This elaborate notation recently surfaced in a private collection in Germany and has now been published. The other important source is a choreographic notation made in St. Petersburg, circa 1899–1903. This notation was made using the Stepanov notation system developed in St. Petersburg in the early 1890s. The production represents French choreographer Marius Petipa’s version of Giselle that was based on the original Paris production, choreographed by Jean Coralli and Jules Perrot. The Stepanov notation of Giselle was used in the West for historic stagings by Paris Opéra Ballet and the Vic-Wells Ballet (now the Royal Ballet). The notation is now housed at the Harvard Theatre Collection.
Principal dancers Carla Körbes and Karel Cruz in Giselle.
In collaboration with Peter Boal, who has overseen the entire staging, Marian Smith concentrated on the French sources and their use for the action of the ballet, and Doug Fullington reconstructed choreography using the Stepanov notations. This production marks the first time an American ballet company has based a production on Stepanov notation as well as the first use in modern times of the rare French sources for Giselle . Peter Boal has also taken into account the rich performance history of Giselle in fashioning a production that both honors the past and appeals to today’s audience.
Principal dancer Carla Körbes as Giselle

May 30-June 8, 2014. 

Photo Shoot: Kaori Nakamura as Giselle

By (Pacific Northwest Ballet)
Wednesday, Apr 02 at 10:51 AM

Recently, during a rare photo shoot in Pacific Northwest Ballet’s studios, the work of three exceptional artists–principal dancer Kaori Nakamura, costume designer Jérôme Kaplan, and photographer Angela Sterling–produced these striking images. 

The shoot was an ideal opportunity to showcase Kaori Nakamura's artistry in anticipation of the conclusion of her brilliant, 17-year performing career with the Company at the end of this season. This June, Ms. Nakamura will be featured in the title role of Giselle, which returns to the McCaw Hall stage with original sets and costumes by renowned designer Jérôme Kaplan. Mr. Kaplan, whose past work is already familiar to PNB audiences though Roméo et Juliette and Don Quixote, will complete a vision of this classic ballet that will be unique to Pacific Northwest Ballet.  

PNB principal dancer Kaori Nakamura as Giselle

PNB principal dancer Kaori Nakamura as Giselle

PNB principal dancer Kaori Nakamura as Giselle.

May 30-June 8, 2014. 

The Story of A Midsummer Night's Dream

By (Pacific Northwest Ballet)
Wednesday, Mar 26 at 11:29 AM

ACT I - A forest near Athens, one Midsummer eve

The First Act takes place in a forest near the duke’s palace. Oberon, King of the Fairies, and Titania, his queen, quarrel over the Indian child they both want. Oberon orders Puck to bring the flower pierced by Cupid’s arrow (which causes anyone coming under its influence to fall in love with the first person the eyes behold) and, while Titania is asleep and unknowing, he casts the flower’s spell over her.

Principal dancer Carrie Imler with PNB School students.
Meanwhile, Helena, wandering in the woods, meets Demetrius, whom she loves but who does not love her. Demetrius rejects her and goes his way. Oberon watches and tells Puck to use the flower on Demetrius that he may return Helena’s affection.

Another couple, Hermia and Lysander, very much in love, are also wandering in the forest. They become separated. Puck, eager to carry out Oberon’s orders, mistakenly anoints Lysander. Helena appears, and Lysander, under the flower’s spell, at once and to her amazement tells her how much he loves her.

Principal dancer Kaori Nakamura
Hermia now returns. She is astonished and then dismayed to see Lysander paying attention only to Helena. Puck manages to bring Demetrius, too, under the flower’s spell, much to the delight of Helena, who doesn’t care for Lysander at all.

Principal dancers Jonathan Porretta and Carrie Imler with Company dancers. 
Demetrius and Lysander, now both in love with Helena, begin to quarrel over her. Puck, at Oberon’s order, has separated Bottom, a weaver, from his companions and transformed his head into that of an ass and placed him at the sleeping Titania’s feet. Awakening, Titania sees Bottom, thinks him fair, and pays him close and loving attention. At last Oberon, his anger over, has Bottom sent away and releases Titania from her spell.

Principal dancer Carrie Imler with soloist Kiyon Gaines
Hermia now gets no attention, Helena too much. The men, completely at odds, quarrel seriously and begin to fight. Puck, by his magic, causes them to separate, lose one another and wander apart in the forest until, exhausted, they fall asleep, with Puck arranging for Helena to fall asleep beside Demetrius and Lysander (his spell removed) by Hermia.

Principal dancer Maria Chapman with former PNB dancer Jeffrey Stanton
The Duke and Hippolyta discover the lovers asleep in the forest, awaken them, find their differences resolved and proclaim a triple wedding for themselves and the two couples.

Principal dancer Karel Cruz with former PNB dancer Ariana Lallone

ACT II - At the court of Theseus

The Second Act opens in the Duke’s palace with parades, dancing, and divertissements in honor of the newly married couples. When the celebrations are over and the mortals retire, we return to the demesne of Oberon and Titania, who are now reunited and at peace. And at last, Puck, having put order into disorder, sweeps away the remnants of the night’s doings. The fireflies twinkle in the night and reclaim the forest.

Principal dancer Maria Chapman with former PNB dancer Jeffrey Stanton


Reprinted from 101 Stories of the Great Ballets by George Balanchine and Francis Mason

© 2014 Pacific Northwest Ballet. All Rights Reserved.