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New York City Center Presents Pacific Northwest Ballet in Contemporary Choreographies
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New York City Center
Pacific Northwest Ballet

Contemporary Choreographies
A Million Kisses To My Skin
The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude

Artistic Director: Peter Boal
Kent Stowell and Francis Russell, Founding Artistic Directors
Music Director/Principal Conductor: Emil de Cou
Company Pianist/Conductor: Allan Dameron
Ballet Masters: Otto Neubert, Anne Dabrowski, Paul Gibson
Technical Director: Norbert Herriges
Resident Lighting Designer: Randall G. Chiarelli
Costume Shop Manager: Larae Thiege Hascall
Company Pianist: Christina Siemens

Press: Joe Guttridge, Director of Communications

At New York City Center

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
February 27, 2016

A Million Kisses To My Skin (2000): Music by Johann Sebastian Bach (Concerto No. 1 in D minor), Choreography by David Dawson, Staging by Tim Couchman, Scenic Design by David Dawson, Costume Design by Yumiko Takeshima, Lighting Design by Bert Dalhuysen, Conductor and Pianist: Allan Dameron, Performed by the Company.

This contemporary work by David Dawson, the opening ballet in the contemporary program of Pacific Northwest Ballet’s New York run, was lovely, while also propulsive and magnetic. A rapid announcement of injury replacements left some of us in the dark, as to the actual remaining cast, but the ballet for nine moved seamlessly and grippingly. Allan Dameron once again conducted the Program’s first score, Bach’s Concerto No. 1 in D minor. Mr. Dameron was also the Concerto’s pianist for rapid, challenging solos. Mr. Dawson included, with Tim Couchman’s staging, choreography of tosses and turns, floor slides under legs, and a woman weaving down a man’s torso, evocative of Balanchine’s choreography for The Siren in Prodigal Son.. The music was quintessential classical, and the choreography was quintessential contemporary. Fascinating start-stops of angular lines, off-balance turns, shifting partnering, quick-change moods, and special figures were all on display. I wish the company had included in the program, or posted on a board outside, the casting changes. What I found most interesting were high leg lifts, from the men, equal to those from the women. Yumiko Takeshima’s costumes in shades of blue added to the aura of coolness.

The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude 1996): Music by Franz Schubert, Choreography by William Forsythe, Staging by Stefanie Arndt, Scenic and Lighting Design by William Forsythe, Costume Design by Stephen Galloway, Performed by Angelica Generosa, Margaret Mullin, Elizabeth Murphy, Kyle Davis, and Price Suddarth.

This Forsythe work has been reviewed on these pages in past years with the Kirov and Dresden Ballets. Tonight, with Emil de Cou in the pit, conducting the Schubert score, “Allegro molto vivace” from Symphony No. 9 in C major, Pacific Northwest Ballet introduced this punctuated ballet to New York, all over again. Three women in stiff green tutus are partnered by two men in red brief unitards. The motion is, as the title implies, “thrilling”. Kyle Davis and Price Suddarth partnered Angelica Generosa, Margaret Mullin, and Elizabeth Murphy. A compilation of pas de deux, pas de trois, and variations for the ensemble present the gestalt of ballet with hardened motion, akin to the tutus. Tonight I saw it anew and appreciated, more, its striking, performance challenge. All three times I’ve viewed this ballet, it was danced on the NY City Center stage, where intimacy of audience and stage helps the ballet grow on the viewer.

Emergence (2009): Music by Owen Belton, Choreography by Crystal Pite, Staging by Hope Muir, Scenic Design by Jay Gower Taylor, Costume Design by Linda Chow, Lighting Design by Alan Brodie, Performed by the Full Company.

Now, here was a truly contemporary thrill, featuring Owen Belton’s recorded electronic score. Crystal Pite’s 2009 Emergence, evocative of Robbins’ The Cage, brings out the entire company for this New York finale. Dancers have their heads covered in thin fabric, in a fashion to resemble bees. Women are dressed in black tutus with bare legs, while men are dressed in black pants with bare torsos (Linda Chow), huddling around the black outline of an entrance to a hive (Jay Gower Taylor). There are special effects, mesmerizing lighting (Alan Brodie), vocal gasps, and propulsive, military motifs. Swarms attack swarms, and so on. I’d love to see this again. Kudos to all.

Pacific Northwest Ballet
in David Dawson's "A Million Kisses to My Skin".
Courtesy of Lindsay Thomas

Pacific Northwest Ballet
in Crystal Pite's "Emergence".
Courtesy of Lindsay Thomas

For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at