Company dancer and NEXT STEP choreographer Matthew Renko has been choreographing for several years, but his upcoming premiere will provide a new experience for him: working with the Seattle Youth Symphony Orchestra, who will accompany his piece at this Friday’s performance.

Professional Division student Julia Turner rehearses Matthew’s premiere at PNB’s annual Teen Night.

His NEXT STEP premiere is Matthew’s first for PNB School; as he explains, choreography has been “a way to stay creative when I was sidelined [with a knee injury].” Matthew brings a depth of experience to his work with Professional Division dancers, having choreographed on students at both the School of American Ballet and the New York Choreographic Institute.

He has made the most of his time with his dancers, explaining, “I like to work quickly…you don’t want to forget ideas or talk yourself out of an idea.” Watching him polish the piece, it is evident that the dancers are eager to translate his creative vision and that everyone involved is finding joy in the work.

Professional Division students Julia Turner and Laura Gunder rehearse at PNB’s annual Teen Night.

Matthew selected the third movement of Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 2 in C minor for this premiere, his first onstage at McCaw Hall. The Tchaikovsky was a work with which he had been familiar for years but his concept had long remained “a choreographic idea put on the backburner” as he waited for the right opportunity. Renko describes the music, which has a Russian folksong-like feel, as “perfect for dance.”

Working with a trio of dancers, Matthew has combined “a series of ideas, how my body wanted to move,” with the intricacies of his chosen music into a playful piece en pointe that celebrates “moments of quirkiness, or feeling a bit odd.”  Weaving their way across the stage, Renko’s dancers strike poses reminiscent of birds, flirtatious showgirls, and even fencers mid-joust. The result is an enchanting premiere, one you don’t want to miss!

See Matthew’s premiere on NEXT STEP
Friday, June 13 at 7:30 pm. 
Only at McCaw Hall! 


Photos by Lindsay Thomas. Blog post by Kristen Ramer Liang.