A Preview of PNB’s Season Encore, This Sunday Only

by on June 6, 2011

It ain’t over yet, baby. Chalnessa Eames with Anton Pankevitch in “One for My Baby (and One More for the Road” from Twyla Tharp’s Nine Sinatra Songs (Photo ©Angela Sterling)

Musicians give encores all the time. I wish the same were true for dancers. Can you imagine a dancer in Seattle giving an encore? It’s our own fault; as an audience, we Seattleites can’t even clap the curtain back up. Half the time we’re already out the door anyway, trying to beat the traffic.

So, no encores, but Pacific Northwest Ballet has the next best thing: A season encore performance. PNB started this tradition at the end of Peter Boal’s thrilling first season as artistic director of Pacific Northwest Ballet. In 2006; he brought back the year’s most exciting pieces for a one-night-only show that electrified the house.

None of the season encores has been as thrilling as that first one, although some have come close. They usually rank as one of the best shows of PNB’s season.

If you’ve never tried ballet, PNB’s Season Encore this Sunday (June 12 at 6:30 p.m.; tickets start at $30) is a good introduction, as it offers a wide variety of styles. Think of it as dim sum for dance: a bit of this, a bit of that, super tasty, not too pricy.

If you’ve been avoiding PNB this year because of the story ballets, then this is a good time to return, as the program includes excerpts from works like the fast, sexy Red Angels; the jazzy Rubies; Lambarena, that Seattle favorite that mixes Bach and African music, ballet and African dance; Petite Mort, which takes its translation into the English word orgasm almost literally, albeit elegantly; and the architectural Agon.

Oddly enough, Petite Mort is the sole piece on the program that is actually an encore from the season. This year’s program appears to have been created as a goodbye to the eight dancers who are leaving the company. It includes some of these dancers’ signature roles, plus works choreographed by two of these departing dancers: Stacy Lowenberg’s lyrical Rushed Goodbye and the first part of of Olivier Wevers’ tortured Monster. Rounding out the evening are a duet from Slaughter on Tenth Avenue, a tipsy excerpt from Nine Sinatra Songs, a little Gershwin in Who Cares, and an excerpt from Kent Stowell’s Carmen, which we haven’t seen since 2002.

One reason this end-of-season show is so fun is that the auditorium is usually packed with fans. Their enthusiasm feeds the dancers, who in turn give back even more energy, which in turn makes the audience even more responsive. Emotions will likely run particularly high this year, as the eight departing dancers are beloved by many. This is our last chance to salute (at PNB) Chalnessa Eames’s wit, Barry Kerollis’s spunk, Ariana Lallone’s passion, Stacy Lowenberg’s sparkle, Stanko Milov’s nobility, Josh Spell’s elegance, Jeffrey Stanton’s stalwartness, and Olivier Wevers’ precision. Let’s clap that curtain back up. Go crazy and demand a real encore.

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