Company dancer and NEXT STEP choreographer Price Suddarth is premiering his third piece with PNB School Professional Division this year. While each of his premieres has been different, Price’s singular style has emerged: his goal is to create a space in which the audience can have an experience and depart from the ordinary for a while. “I always want to present a feeling, an escape from staring at people in a big box,” he says. Stemming from his belief that “art is all things to all people,” in his choreography Price prefers to focus on a feeling rather than a narrative, so that the audience can “take away from it what they want.” 

Professional Division students Dylan Wald and Saho Kumagi rehears Price’s newest work at PNB’s annual Teen Night.

This choreographic freedom and collaborative process with both dancers and audience is rooted in a strong foundation of musical knowledge and attention to minute details. In his own choreography, he might listen to a piece of music “hundreds of times” over one or two months to find the counts and accents that will punctuate his work. He refers to Stravinsky’s Agon: “At first it sounds like just noise, but it makes perfect sense with Balanchine’s choreography.”  

For this premiere, Price has chosen very singable music indeed: selections by Bach, including movements from two Vivaldi-inspired concertos. Price landed on these pieces after two of his original six dancers were injured and he had to start from scratch with the four remaining dancers. He describes this as “an incredibly liberating experience; I had a preconceived notion and then had to start over and find inspiration as I went.” Working with fewer dancers, he felt free to be looser with the process, developing this piece with the dancers while figuring out “the intricate connections between partners.”  

Professional Division students Isaac Aoki and Saho Kumagi performing at NEXT Step 2013.

Hearing Price talk about his process, it’s clear that these “intricate connections” extend beyond the dancers – he is truly engaged in finding those same connections in the music, and providing a context for the audience to discover their own relationship to his work.

You can see Price’s premiere on NEXT STEP on Friday, June 13 at 7:30 pm.  Only at McCaw Hall!  VISIT PNB.ORG TO LEARN MORE ABOUT NEXT STEP Friday, June 13 at 7:30

Blog post by Kristen Ramer Liang. All photos © Lindsay Thomas.