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Myth Busters: The Summer Course Audition Edition
By firstname.lastname@example.org (Pacific Northwest Ballet)
Monday, Nov 18 at 3:24 PM
When it comes to ballet summer course auditions, young dancers put a lot of pressure on themselves to be accepted by their top choice. And, it doesn't help that are a lot of myths surrounding the audition and selection process! Myth: A black leotard and pink tights are required attire at all PNB Summer Course auditions.
Truth: How a leotard fits is important, as is the dancer's comfort. But it's okay to show a little personality with the color of your leotard. All dancers should wear tights in perfect condition, spotless shoes, and have performance-quality hair.
Myth: You should audition with a group that's the same age you'll be during the upcoming summer course.
Truth: All dancers should audition with their current age group.
Myth: If you don't know a step that's given, you're cut.Truth: It is okay if you don't know every step in a combination that’s given. Auditions normally consist of a full 1.5 hour class and no one is cut.
Myth: The level you are placed in indicates of how talented you are. Truth: All levels at PNB School offer exceptional, professional-track training. It is okay to repeat a level two years in a row, and it's very important that students do their best work no matter what level they are placed in.
Myth: You didn't get accepted because we didn't see you during the audition.
Truth: We make sure that everyone is seen during each audition class.
Myth: PNB has a set number of spots for each Summer Course and if you show up to one of the later auditions you might not get in because they’ve already been filled.
Truth: PNB School’s summer course is very selective. Only students who have the potential for a professional career are accepted. There is not a set number of spots for students and the city in which you audition does not impact the selection process. If there's a promising student in the last city on the audition tour, we'll take them!
Myth: If I was accepted to PNB's summer course the past but declined to attend, they won't accept me again.
Truth: We consider everyone with a clean slate each year, even if they have declined in the past. Plus, our acceptance deadlines are intentionally set so that students have the opportunity to attend their top choice.
Myth: If I decide to take class en pointe I have to take the whole class that way.
Truth: If you are 17 or 18 you should be prepared to take a whole class en pointe. Younger dancers (16 and under) should plan to take only the last part of the audition class en pointe.
So, what's the bottom line?
Practice: Auditioning is a skill and you need to practice it if you want to improve. Consider taking an audition class even if you know you won't be going away to a summer course this year.
Professionalism: Approach the process like a job interview. It's appropriate to send a thank you note if you're accepted and a brief explanation if you need to decline for any reason.
Preparedness & Positivity: Come prepared to do your best. Everyone involved in the audition process wants to make you as comfortable as possible because they want to see you at your best.
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Dancer Dinner Party with Jessika Anspach & Elizabeth Murphy
By email@example.com (Pacific Northwest Ballet)PNB dancer (and newlywed) Jessika Anspach recently threw a dinner party for fellow corps de ballet dancer Elizabeth Murphy's birthday. She was kind enough to write up the recipe and share it with us... and you!November? Really?
Monday, Nov 18 at 10:03 AM
Where'd you come from? How did you get here?
Well you sure did sneak up on me...
It's hard to believe that two months and 13 days have past since I said "I do," beginning this great new chapter of my life... seems like it was just yesterday. And yet, we've been a very busy Mr. and Mrs. McEliece.
Setting up our new home (and by "home" I mean a sweet little one bedroom apartment in the U-District) has been such a joy. Creating and constructing a beautiful, inviting space that reflects not only our individual personalities, but also our mutual loves has been a wonderful challenge. And inviting it must be, because oh how we do love to entertain!
And this month we're provided with ample opportunities...Thanks November!
Not only do we get to celebrate the blessed and bountiful Thanksgiving holiday (promptly followed by the beginning of dun, dun, DUN... NUTCRACKER!!!!), but November is also a month of many many birthdays–my own included.
But there's one very special lady that passed a "milestone," if you will, this past weekend. So Ryan and I took full advantage of our new digs, and our love of food and entertaining to throw a wonderful celebration just for her. Miss Elizabeth "Lizzy" Murphy. You'll just have to look closely at the photos to see which "milestone" it was...
The menu? I wish I could say it was a Beef Wellington or braised quail on a bed of mashed heirloom potatoes but, well, it wasn't.
Okay, okay! It was just a roasted chicken with root veggies. I confess! Sounds kinda sad. So under-acheiving for me, I know. But in my yellow Le Crueset it looked pretty darn fancy... er, well, at least I thought so. What do you think?
The best part about this recipe (I take no credit for it... that all belongs to the incredible Alison Wilson) is that it's deceptively and deliciously simple.
Buy a whole chicken. Buy a lemon, celery stick and some root veggies... you know... carrots, yams, sweet potatoes, regular potatoes... you get my drift. Chop them up.
Coat the chicken with lots of dried herbs. Throw it all together in a dutch oven. Put it in the oven.
Two hours later and voilá! The most delicious roast chicken you'll ever taste!
You don't even need a side dish!
Although we did have a delectable cheese plate for appetizers and a yummy green salad with candied pecans. Gotta get those leafy greens!
It was a lovely night celebrating the sweetest, most wonderful co-worker and friend anyone could ever ask for. What a gift and a blessing she is to me and to so many!
So Happy Birthday Lizzy!!! May our Lord richly bless you this year. Blow them candles out girl!!! Just not into your ice cream sundae.
And if you'd like to make Ally's world famous roast chicken recipe here it is. I mean seriously people you can't go wrong...
Ally's Roast Chicken
1 whole chicken
1 whole lemon, sliced in half
1 stalk celery, leaves attached
garlic salt (or garlic powder and kosher salt)
1 yellow onion, quartered
carrots, peeled and cut into chunks*
yams, sweet potatoes, potatoes washed and cubed*
*amount and selection varies depending on your personal taste and preference as well as the size of your dutch oven. I say the more the merrier.
1. Preheat your oven to 375˚F.
2. Wash, peel, and cut all veggies making sure that potatoes and carrots are all about the same size (they can be big and chunky if that's what you prefer) so they cook evenly. Set them aside.
3. Rinse chicken and remove and discard giblets from inside the cavity (if you'd like to save them for stock that's fine, just make sure to cook them along with the chicken).
4. Taking half the lemon squeeze the juice coating entire chicken. Stuff the rind inside the cavity of the chicken along with the celery stalk and leaves. You can cut the rind in to quarters if that helps.
5. Sprinkle and rub in equal parts of dried parsley, thyme, oregano, garlic salt and pepper on all sides of the chicken. Be generous. This is what makes it yummy.
6. Place the chicken breast side up in the dutch oven and surround it with all your cut veggies. Go ahead. Pack 'em in! Cut the remaining half lemon into four wedges and squeeze juices all over veggies and chicken. Toss rinds in the pot and cover with the lid.
7. Place the covered dutch oven in the oven and roast for 2 hours. Check the chicken and if need be, remove the lid and switch the oven to "broil" to brown the skin for a few minutes. (I've never had to do this as mine has always turned out perfectly browned come the end of 2 hours, but you might want to depending on your oven and your taste.)
** A "P.S." to this post...
If you love good food but you're cooking on a budget (like we are) this meal is super economical. We just eye out for when whole chickens are on sale - 99¢ sometimes even 88¢ a pound! And, we buy a couple and keep them stocked in the freezer.
Not only does this recipe yield an incredible chicken dinner, but it's the foundation for so much more. After we're done we leave the leftovers in the pot, cover it with water and simmer it for a few hours, making our own homemade chicken stock for soups and other recipes. We'll just fill an empty (and cleaned) yogurt container and freeze or refrigerate it.
Last night we used the leftover chicken and some of the broth to make the most delicious chicken & veggie soup with carrots, sweet potatoes and kale. It was so delicious and we even have leftovers of that! Like I said, it's the recipe that just keeps on giving. How appropriate for this month.
Watch Jessika onstage in Pacific Northwest Ballet's Nutcracker and read more on her blog, Just Jessika.
Special Edition: Artistic Director Peter Boal on Emergence
By firstname.lastname@example.org (Pacific Northwest Ballet)As I told the dancers, it's rare that I program a work that I haven't seen in person, but this is one of them. I like to feel a work from the audience perspective, to feel reactions, even if I have a very different response to a work from those around me. So as we head into McCaw Hall this week, I—like most of you—will see Emergence for the first time.
Friday, Nov 08 at 10:18 AM
I expect there will be a great deal of discussion about Crystal Pite's Emergence this week, and I thought I might kick it off by offering my perspective on the work. Not since programming William Forsythe's One Flat Thing, reproduced, have I seen such a polarizing and thought-provoking piece.
I watched a studio run-through a few weeks ago, and it literally knocked me over. This was before Crystal returned to Seattle to sharpen movements and clarify intentions. She is a wonder, often addressing dancers while sitting cross-legged on the studio floor and jumping up to demonstrate with breathtaking clarity. She boasts no ego whatsoever, just pure unaffected example. The work unfolds systematically over 31 minutes, from a tiny urgency encapsulated in Rachel Foster's shoulder blade. It's one body's movement of one muscle, but we are as focused on this tiny miracle as Joshua Grant, who's either predator, mate, or midwife. Rachel enters our world, by shoulder blade, wing and goopy trembling limb—the birth of a creature in all of its innocence and danger. She is our window into the world of the hive.
Next we meet the males, all 18 of them in spectacular muscular unison precisely angled as if in ritual prayer. They pulse and glide over surface exploring both individuality and uniformity. They are non-human and sci-fi, still masked in their anonymity.The women swarm the stage like locusts or tree ants, but they bourree on pointe in fifth position—hybrids of classicism, all clearly independent and neurotic. Their obsessive counting reaches maniacal levels, until one male enters their sacred domain and makes them individual, feminine, and vulnerable.
The duet between Lindsi and Bold is less confrontational and more exploratory with the two finding their awkward tango that mirrors our human courtships.The piece unfolds in odd patterns that feel organic. We are witnessing a system both logical and foreign. The battle of the sexes is in evidence especially when an impenetrable line of women relentlessly repels attacking men. Andrew finds their Achilles heel.
There's a beautiful denouement with Rachel and three men, which explores peace and compatibility. The finale builds like Bolero, constantly magnifying the power of the masses. Thirty-nine dancers feels like hundreds—the Third Reich, the Arab spring, the sound of marching boots, and the thrill and fear of the power of many capable of a force far greater than any individual. The magnitude is also ominous, suggesting oppression, bullying, or silencing.
This is a powerful piece that promises to provoke reaction, and I am anxious to hear yours. The dancers love this work and they think the world of Crystal Pite, consistently mentioning her clarity and her generosity. Emergence may not be for everyone, but everyone will undoubtedly have an opinion about it. Now you know mine. - Peter Boal
Company dancers in the PNB premiere of Crystal Pite's Emergence. Photos © Angela Sterling.
30 Magical Nutcracker Moments
By email@example.com (Pacific Northwest Ballet)
Wednesday, Nov 06 at 1:04 PM
You already know how this story goes.There's a sense of anticipation when the lights in the theater go down. A hush comes over the audience and the orchestra tunes their instruments. The conductor walks out and we hear the first few notes of Tchaikovsky's wonderful score. The curtain goes up and the magic begins...
Part of the magic of Nutcracker is that, year after year, the same things happen onstage, and yet our delight grows with each performance. Here are 30 magical Stowell & Sendak Nutcracker moments (some large and some small) we can't wait to share with you each holiday season:
|Music Director & Principal Conductor Emil de Cou (photo courtesy of National Symphony Orchestra); Company dancers; corps de ballet dancer Leah Merchant|
1. The teeny tiny boy and girl who dance with the Grandparents during Party Scene2. The bust of Mozart that watches over the Stahlbaum's holiday party3. The mice that are part of Maurice Sendak's sets (look for the chubby one on the chandelier!)4. The children in the audience who can't help but dance in their seats5. Party Girls' perfect ringlets and the rambunctious Party Boys...onstage and off
6. The dancing ballerina and sword dolls–precursors to characters who appear later7. When the Grandfather Clock grows and dances8. When the Christmas tree finishes growing and everyone claps9. Mother Mouse and her two adorable Baby Mice10. When the lead fighting mouse, Attila, rubs his tummy11. When the cannons go off and the whole audience jumps
|PNB School students backstage (left & right); principal dancer Seth Orza with PNB School students (center) |
12.The Mouse King's tail that wraps around to the other side of the stage13. The beauty and romance of the Snow Scene pas de deux14. When the lead snowflake that comes onstage by herself and does those great arms15. Clara and the Prince's fantastical golden ship16. When Clara and the Prince are sailing and dolphins pop up from the waves17. Maurice Sendak's "Wild Thing" that appears during Clara and the Prince's sea voyage18. Bobbing lanterns leading the way to Pasha's kingdom (where there are awesome floor pillows!) 19. Watching Clara and the Prince tell how they defeated the Mouse King 20. When the Small Servants do "jazz hands" at the beginning of Act 221. All the robes and hats that the mice wear in Pasha's Kingdom22. The Peacock who comes out of her golden cage and dances, swishing her long tail23. The surprise ending to the dance of the Chinese Tiger (after he gets tangled in the ribbons) 24. When the masked man in the Commedia pas de trois does his tricks25. The wild applause from the kids in the audience for the little Toy Theater dancers
26. The dream-like pink costumes worn for Waltz of the Flowers27. Flora’s amazing turns and leaps during Waltz of the Flowers27. Clara and the Nutcracker Prince's final grand pas de deux (with overhead lifts!)28. The grand finale, when the whole cast has a big dance party on stage 30. Watching the children dance through the doors on their way out of McCaw Hall, glowing with delight
|PNB School students (left and right); principal dancer James Moore in the Commedia pas de trois (center)|