Monday, May 20, 2013
We were disappointed to see a modified version of this backstage photo of PNB dancer Chelsea Adomaitis is being shared on Tumblr and Pinterest (the original image photographed by Lindsay Thomas is in color on the left). The black and white image has clearly been Photoshopped to make her waist appear smaller and her foot more arched.
We want to be clear that the photoshopped version of the photo was not made or distributed by PNB. Conversations about the health of all dancers is important, and an issue PNB takes very seriously for our Company and School. We were saddened to see our image altered in a way that may perpetuate unrealistic expectations among young dancers.
Posted by Pacific Northwest Ballet at 9:57 AM
Monday, May 13, 2013
“I was always bossy,” says Andrew Bartee, though you’d never know it from his modest, playful persona. The oldest of four kids, he “always had an urge to put something on—plays, variety or talent shows, gymnastic routines.” His first experience of choreographing was in a class at Kirkland’s International School of Ballet, where he “liked telling people what to do.”
Later, in two years of Saturday Pacific Northwest Ballet classes taught by Bruce Wells, the students would all be assigned the same music and given a task: choose three steps, say, and use them across 24 counts. Andrew grins at the recollection. “I learned tricks. I soaked it up.” He finds it interesting now, at the age of 22, on seeing others (Mark Morris. for example) choreographing, “to recognize the devices used, the things to change a phrase to make it more interesting.”
In 2009—while Andrew and fellow-student Margaret (Maggie) Mullin were apprentices at PNB, just prior to being hired on as corps members—they co-created a duet at her suggestion, for a choreographer’s showcase in Tucson where she’s from. Having enjoyed working together, they co-choreographed a piece for PNB’s Next Step in April 2010, and the following year they both did one on their own for the same forum.
[For a short video on their first solo choreographing experiences, go to:
PNB's Next Step-Andrew Bartee and Margaret Mullin - YouTube]
At this point Andrew’s choreographic career took off, though he continues to dance with PNB, Whim W’Him, and occasionally other companies. Olivier Wevers, artistic director of Whim W’Him asked him to do something for last June’s Seattle International Dance Festival. For that, using his PNB friends Ezra Thompson and Sarah Pasch, Andrew choreographed a trio which was the genesis of his piece—now entitled This is real.—that will debut at Whim W’Him’s May show.
[Tickets are now available at: www.BrownPaperTickets.com]
[Tickets are now available at: www.BrownPaperTickets.com]
In the fall of 2012, an Andrew duet by and for Kate Wallich and himself at the Velocity season kickoff was well reviewed: “Bartee and Wallich premiered Crash Case, an ultra-deconstructed version of the traditional ballet duet where they seemed to braid their bodies together in partnering sequences and emit a subtle aggression in solo sections. They paused with one fist raised before shuffling sideways and stretching with marvelous elasticity to Lena Simon’s shimmery soundscape. The piece showed a growing maturity in Bartee’s choreography…”
Around the same time, Andrew’s arms that work premiered at Seattle’s McCaw Hall as part of a PNB regular rep program that also included works by Mark Morris, fellow company member Kiyon Gaines, and his old friend and co-creator, Maggie Mullin.
This March, arms that work was danced again by Patricia Barker‘s Grand Rapids Ballet Company. One review called the piece “as astounding today as Arpino’s and Balanchine’s pieces were in their day.” In February of this year, emotions., yet another piece, a solo this time, was choreographed by Andrew—as a mediation on “the varied relationships with one’s self”—and danced by Kate Wallich for Bellevue’s contemporary dance showcase, Chop Shop: Bodies of Work.
And now This is real. Andrew’s first work for Whim W’Him, it investigates awkwardness in relationships, social unease. Evolving over time from a 5-minute sketch which he says “I hated,” it has tripled in length, becoming a more subtle and abstract exploration of “situations between friends that make you a little uncomfortable, that you didn’t see coming.” Seattle composer Lena Simon is writing original music for the piece.
When he enters the studio, Andrew doesn’t have steps worked out, all ready to go. Far from it. They come to him in the course of working. The other day, for example, while warming up before rehearsal, a little sequence of steps involving a lot of elbows & knees occurred to him and became part of what was set on the dancers in the next few hours.
Last week, he was developing vocabulary for the three dancers (Mia Monteabaro,Tory Peil and Sergey Kheylik). Now, he says “It’s nice to have dance material, to play with the story.” When I asked him if his own long, flexible body and the way it moves influences his choreography, he said, “Of course, but it’s always different with each dancer. Each initiates movement from somewhere different. The differences add depth and meaning.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR VICTORIA FARR BROWN
I am a writer, mostly of fiction, based in Seattle, and a long-time lover of dance.Behind the Scenes focuses on WhimW’Him—Olivier Wever’s dance company, formed in 2009 and now affiliated with Intiman Theatre—its projects, artists, and whatever ideas, whimsical or otherwise, occur to me in the course of watching the company grow.
Sepia photo of Andrew by Shane Ohmer; arms that work photo, courtesy of Photos – Chris Clark | email@example.com | MLive.com; last three photos by Molly Mageeof Bamberg Fine Art Photography.
Posted by Pacific Northwest Ballet at 3:53 PM
Monday, April 1, 2013
“Stories are the bridge between the public and the art form. We can’t get them to watch The Four Temperaments until we get them on that bridge. And I can do those stories in ways that haven’t been done before.” — Kent Stowell in Mindy Aloff’s essay, Balanchine and Beyond, Melbourne International Festival of the Arts Program, October 1995.
|PNB Company dancers in Kent Stowell's Swan Lake. Photo © Angela Sterling.|
Within a year of the November 1972 incorporation of Pacific Northwest Dance (PNB’s name until 1978), Glynn Ross, general director of Seattle Opera and the new ballet organization, prepared a Plan Outline for Establishing a Major Dance Company for the Pacific Northwest. Shortly thereafter, this Outline was sent by Leon Kalimos, newly appointed executive director of Pacific Northwest Dance, to Kent Stowell, who in 1973 was employed as Ballet Master and Choreographer of Frankfurt Ballet in Germany; Kalimos’ attempts to interest Stowell in a position with PNWD were unsuccessful at that early date, but continued over the next several years.
According to the Pacific Northwest Dance Professional Developmental Program Narrative (an expanded version of the Plan Outline) dated 5 October 1973:
To develop an indigenous resident professional dance company, Pacific Northwest Dance has outlined an over-all program designed to create from the basic resources of the Northwest an artistically excellent, professionally organized, and financially responsible vital member of the American Dance world. It is the expressed intent and goal of Pacific Northwest Dance to see a nationally credible Dance Company realized within a period of 4 years.
Under the leadership of Janet Reed, Ballet Mistress and Director of the School from July 1974-June 1976, and Leon Kalimos, executive director October 1973 through 1977, PNWD took the first steps toward training company dancers and building a repertory.
One of the Company’s first performances (except for brief appearances in dance scenes in Seattle Opera productions) was Pulcinella in spring 1975. Choreographed by Janet Reed for selected dancers and featuring members of the Seattle Symphony Orchestra and Seattle Opera chorus performing the Stravinsky score, this work in a sense represented the Company’s first story ballet. The Company also participated in lecture-demonstrations in local schools in a program called Ballet is a Contact Sport.
Although major steps in the Company’s development occurred with the Lew Christensen Nutcracker (eight sold-out performances in December 1975 and eleven sold-out performances in December 1976), the first repertory season in February, March, and May 1977 under the guidance of Melissa Hayden (Janet Reed’s successor) represented a different level of achievement. Company dancers and guest artists appeared in varied programs that included works by George Balanchine; the season closed with Hayden’s staging of Coppélia—the full-length story ballet that, in various versions, has consistently been a part of the Company’s history from 1977 to the present.
|Julie Tobiason in Kent Stowell's Coppélia.|
Even before PNWD’s first Coppélia took to the stage, Hayden had requested release from her contract; many of the dancers left the Company at the same time. Leon Kalimos’ persistent contacts with Kent Stowell bore fruit, and Stowell and Francia Russell arrived in Seattle in late summer 1977 to rebuild the Company and the School. After 14 sold-out performances of Nutcracker in December 1977, they mounted their first full season, with mixed repertory performances in February, March, and May, and Coppélia in June 1978. Stowell created his own version of the full-length ballet, using costumes left over from the previous year’s production and new sets by the original designer, Robert O’Hearn.
During the 28 years that Kent Stowell and Francia Russell led PNB, Stowell expanded PNB’s repertory by creating nine story ballets/full-length ballets in addition to Coppélia: Daphnis and Chloe (1979), Swan Lake (1981, and a new production in 2003), the Stowell/Sendak Nutcracker (1983), The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet (1987), Firebird (1989), Carmina Burana (1993), Cinderella (1994), Silver Lining (1998), and Carmen (2002).
In these works, he endeavored to attract a broader audience by drawing on the appeal of story ballets, and to create his own unique versions of familiar story ballets. In some instances, he choreographed ballets to celebrate major landmarks in the Company’s history. For example, Stowell created both Carmina Burana and Cinderella for the 1993/1994 season, PNB’s first full season in the newly constructed Phelps Center. As he noted: “We have to get everyone’s attention back on what this building is all about: putting art on stage.” He created Silver Lining for the entire company to mark the culmination of the 25th Anniversary Season; Carmen to attract audiences to the less than desirable auditorium of the Mercer Arena, home to the Company during the renovations to the Opera House; and a newly designed production of Swan Lake for the opening of McCaw Hall.
|Kaori Nakamura with Company dancers in Peter Boal's world premiere staging of Giselle. |
Photo © Angela Sterling.
Under Peter Boal’s direction (beginning with the 2005/2006 season), Pacific Northwest Ballet continues to expand the repertory by presenting its own versions of full-length classics.
With the Balanchine/Danilova Coppélia, which premiered in June 2010, PNB for the second time undertook a total redesign of a Balanchine story ballet (the first being the 1997 production of Balanchine’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream with scenic and costume designs by Martin Pakledinaz). Roberta Guidi di Bagno, who also had designed Ronald Hynd’s production of The Merry Widow (performed by PNB in September-October 2002 and March 2005), created scenic and costume designs for PNB’s new Coppélia.
June 2011 witnessed the historic premiere of PNB’s Giselle, staged by Peter Boal with the assistance of dance historians Doug Fullington and Marian Smith and based on primary musical and dance notation sources from Paris and St. Petersburg that had been unknown to or neglected by other major companies.
PNB also has continued to acquire other choreographers’ updated versions of the classic story ballets. In February 2001, under Stowell and Russell’s direction, PNB dancers triumphed in Ronald Hynd’s production of The Sleeping Beauty, thus rounding out the trio of spectacular Tchaikovsky ballets that started with Nutcracker and Swan Lake. In January 2008, PNB became the first American company to perform Jean-Christophe Maillot’s Roméo et Juliette, a work whose freshness and exquisitely stark design enthralled Boal when he first saw it in 1997. And most recently, in February 2012, PNB presented the American premiere of Alexei Ratmansky’s 2010 version of Don Quixote. —Sheila Dietrich, PNB Archivist
Posted by Pacific Northwest Ballet at 4:47 PM