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.
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 a ballerina 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.
Music: Arvo Pärt (Cantus in Memory of Benjamin Britten, 1977)
Choreography: Susan Marshall
Staging: Kristen Hollinsworth and Luke Miller
Original Lighting Design: Mitchell Bogard
Lighting Design: Peter Bracilano
Original Harnesses and Rigging Design: John Redman
Duration: 7 minutes
First performance: December 3, 1987; Dance Theater Workshop (New York)
Pacific Northwest Ballet Premiere: February 2, 2006
Set to the profound, minimal music of Estonian composer Arvo Pärt, Kiss is a brief yet mesmerizing aerial pas de deux that explores the balance of human love and emotion. Susan Marshall’s choreography sets two dancers suspended in harnesses above the stage floor. Dressed casually in street clothes, they move together, separate and return to one another in a series of gentle, sweeping movements that embody both the pleasure and torment of being in love.
Kiss was choreographed in 1987 during a residency at Jacob’s Pillow, Massachusetts, and was premiered that year in New York by Dance Theater Workshop. The Boston Herald referred to Kiss as “a case study for making the perfect aerial dance,” and the Oakland Tribune observed, “The miracle of the piece is that it captures in concrete dance terms the almost palpable feeling of swimming in love, of being suspended in eternity.”
Choreography: Alejandro Cerrudo
Costume Design: Mark Zappone
Lighting Design: Randall G. Chiarelli
Premiere: March 14, 2014; Pacific Northwest Ballet
Music: Igor Stravinsky (Le Sacre du Printemps [The Rite of Spring], 1911-1913)
Choreography: Molissa Fenley
Lighting Design: David Moodey
Duration: 39 minutes
Premiere: June 23, 1988; American Dance Festival (Durham, North Carolina)
Pacific Northwest Ballet Premiere: May 31, 2007
The 2007 Pacific Northwest Ballet premiere of Molissa Fenley’s State of Darkness was generously underwritten by Lyndall Boal.
Choreographer and performer Molissa Fenley grew up in Nigeria, lived in Spain, and returned to the U.S. where she received a degree in dance from Mills College in 1975. She moved to New York City that year and formed Molissa Fenley and Dancers in 1977. Her 27-year career of choreographing and presenting her work has developed in cycles. During her first ten years (1977-1987) she focused on presenting group works, performed by herself and an ensemble of dancers. In the second ten years (1987-1997) her work shifted to solo performances created in collaboration with contemporary visual artists and composers. Now, in a third cycle, she is once again exploring the dynamics of ensemble work.
Her intensely dynamic solo, State of Darkness, is set to Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring. Commissioned by the American Dance Festival, State of Darkness was first performed by Fenley herself, who received a Bessie Choreography award for her work. Peter Boal received a Bessie Performance award for his revival performance of State of Darkness in 2000.
Notes by Doug Fullington.