Artistic Director’s Notebook: One Thousand Pieces and Empire Noir

Recently, we made an exciting announcement: Alejandro Cerrudo will be PNB’s first Resident Choreographer. I’m a big fan of Alejandro’s work and hope you are, too. If you’re not, you may soon become one. One Thousand Pieces is the fourth Cerrudo work PNB has done in the last decade, following Memory Glow, Little mortal jump, and Silent Ghost. Why Alejandro? His tenure as resident choreographer of Hubbard Street Dance Chicago defined an era for the innovative company where Alejandro was also a dancer. But it’s not his track record that moved me to extend the invitation—it’s what I’ve witnessed in our studios. Tucked in a corner, I watched Alejandro work with Elizabeth Murphy and Dylan Wald on the final duet of Little mortal jump, and I saw three artists rise to new heights. Each was stronger, more unbridled, inspired, open-minded, and curious in the presence of the other. In the room were all the elements needed to maximize creativity. I realized it was my role to make this happen again.



Choreographers often visit us for a week if they are reviving a work. New creations can take four or five weeks, but the time in the studio is finite and comes quickly to an end. When the relationship between artist and muse is working, it deserves to flourish and grow. You may have noticed I like to engage choreographers more than once and often multiple times. There’s a familiarity upon return that can lead to a building process with rewards for all involved, including us. One Thousand Pieces is the next step in what we hope is a long staircase of collaborations with Alejandro. We invite you to discover and climb with us as we continue to explore new heights.


David Dawson is in great demand as a choreographer. His gravity-defying works can be seen throughout Europe, with concentrations in London and Dresden. Empire Noir is emblematic of his aesthetic: big, bold, and wildly challenging. David explores ballet technique with a feline stretch and reckless physicality. Dancers push way beyond the comfort zone into uncharted territory, taking chances, relishing risks, and rewarding everyone in the process. Sleek and satisfying lines come from costume designer Yumiko Takeshima and set designer John Otto, but each plays off of David’s exploration of extremes of the human form. The result is thrilling—organic and uncharted.



A shout-out to our stagers who brings these works to life for you. Ana Lopez and Pablo Piantino assisted Alejandro in recreating One Thousand Pieces for PNB. Their patience and translation of a choreographer’s steps and motives is invaluable. Same goes for Rebecca Gladstone, who speaks David Dawson’s language like none other.


A shout-out to you, too, because this program is the stuff dancers dream of. New works are new life for a ballet company. Don’t get me wrong—we love classics, but discovering something unexpected in the presence of a creator is the true apex of a dancer’s artistic life. So many of you not only applaud new works, but lend your support through advocacy, ticket purchases, word of mouth, and patronage. Thank you for recognizing the importance of a program like the one you are about to see. If you would like more information about PNB’s New Works Initiative, ask me or check out our website. Or better yet, ask an artist if programs like this matter to them. I think I know what they’ll say. Thanking you in advance for helping to foster great art right here, right now.



Peter Boal


See One Thousand Pieces at McCaw Hall March 13-22, 2020.