We have spent the better part of the last eight years focused on acquiring a wealth of new works to add to PNB’s already impressive repertory. The collection grew to include new ballets by Jerome Robbins, Ulysses Dove, Twyla Tharp, David Dawson, and William Forsythe, among others, and the effect of these works on dancers and audiences has been hugely rewarding to watch.
Sometimes we don’t have to pull from across the country or from abroad to see great new work. Seattle is fertile ground for choreographic talent. Just this season, PNB has seen world premieres by three of our Company dancers and the city has seen new creations by a host of Seattle-based choreographers, fueling the energy of the Northwest dance scene.
Paul Gibson, our ballet master and master scheduler, really doesn’t have a whole lot of time to choreograph, which is a shame because he’s so damn good at it. His breakthrough ballet, The Piano Dance, was the hit of our March rep two years ago, and PNB has toured the work to New York City Center’s Fall for Dance Festival and the Jacob's Pillow International Festival of Dance in Becket, Massachusetts. Paul is now unveiling his fifth premiere for PNB, set to a collection of Mozart compositions. Paul’s gifts as a dancer no longer grace our stage, but can be found in his engaging choreography, while his exactitude as a ballet master finds a perfect parallel to the balance of Mozart.
George Balanchine’s sublime Concerto Barocco, set to Bach's Double Violin Concerto, kicks off this program. Francia Russell’s staging received great acclaim in New York last month and now returns to the McCaw Hall stage for the first time in six years.
A hauntingly beautiful work by Ulysses Dove returns to PNB after five years. Ulysses grappled with the loss of friends and family members at the height of the AIDS epidemic before losing his own life to the disease. Here, he addresses pain and memory and the bonds that defy death. Originally choreographed for the Royal Swedish Ballet, Ulysses saw Dancing on the Front Porch of Heaven as part of a trilogy, with Red Angels and Serious Pleasures, that incorporated themes of love, lust, and loss. Eva Säfström, Ulysses' original ballet master with RSB, returns to our studios to once again guide this compelling work to the stage.
Twyla Tharp appears to have a second home and it’s right here in Seattle. PNB loves Twyla and she must like us, too. We’ve performed five of the iconic choreographer’s works, which include two that she made on us. We’ve got an all-Tharp program coming next September, which includes a world premiere. And, oh yeah, she’s PNB's first Artist-in-Residence. Twyla’s been crafting her new work and filling the studio with electricity for the past couple of weeks. Helping her with In the Upper Room are stagers Bill Whitener and Shelley Washington. Both members of the original cast, it has been a pleasure to have their insight in the reconstruction of this seminal work.It was almost 25 years ago that In the Upper Room rocked the dance world with its pulsating rhythms by Philip Glass and its athletic whirlwind of movement by Twyla. No dust on this one. Just wait. Premieres have their thrill and if they are works of the highest quality, like In the Upper Room, they are no less thrilling on subsequent viewings. From Bach to Glass and from Balanchine to Tharp, you're in for a treat and a perfect sampling of all that PNB has to offer.