Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Catching Up

Monday, August 8th, 2011

Goodbye: Season Encore Performance
Pacific Northwest Ballet

Hello: Career transitions

PNB’s June encore program this year was particularly bittersweet – with seven stellar dancers leaving the company — most transitioning to different careers in dance, as I reported in Dance Magazine (June and July issues). So many lovely dances, including Kylian’s Petite Mort with Chalnessa Eames, Ariana Lallone and others. Departing dancers, in particular, showed the focus and strength demanded by Kylian’s wildly clever piece. Stacy Lowenberg’s Rushed Goodbye (a duet with Karel Cruz) was lovely and lyrical, and Jeffery Stanton and Lesley Rausch heated up the house in Slaughter on Tenth Avenue. Eames was her stunning, lucid and fluid self in Nine Sinatra Songs (danced with Jerome Tisserand), Jeffrey Stanton an utterly romantic partner to Carla Korbes in Who Cares? Stanton and Lallone were particularly honored for their long years of service at PNB with a file montage of their lives. They returned the favor of recognition by dancing in their signature pieces – Stanton in his solo in Silver Lining and Lallone sweeping the stage with Lambarena. Longtime PNB principal Olivier Wevers was acknowledged with Andree Bartee and Lucien Postlewaite dancing in his widely-acclaimed Monster. What more can I say? Encore! Please. Wevers obliged with sold-out performances of Whim W’Him’s June program. With gorgeous performers, a willing theater, and Wever’s trademark wit and honesty, his new company is here in Seattle to stay.

“Interesting” Dancers

Sunday, May 29th, 2011

Interesting dancers
Common wisdom/practice among arts critics is to avoid the adjective “interesting” – probably because it is so vague and ambiguous. Meaning everything, it means nothing.
I think if we take it to mean “singularly worth watching,” “a different sort of dancer worth watching,” or “a dancer you have to watch”…meaning, your attention is immediately drawn to that dancer (in fact, a dancer “drawing you in” is precisely what one wants to have happen on stage), then the word actually has meaning.
In Pacific Northwest Ballet’s Midsummer Night’s Dream run, quite a few dancers earned such an accolade and some of the most notable characters were:

Kylee Kitchens (ethereal, waiflike, eerie, mesmerizing)
Lesley Rausch (ebullient, lithe, single-minded, gracious, beautiful timing)
Carla Korbes (passionate yet wild, joyous, playful)
Jonathan Porretta’s Puck was so electrifying he looked like he was channeling – quirky but esoteric, lightening fast and so exaggerated that he really did seem other-worldly
Interpretations widely varied – from Lucien Postlewaite’s noble, dignified Oberon to Benjamin Griffith’s controlled, technical rendering
Here, we were treated to Brittany Reid’s dizzying, majestic turns (she’s one crazy turner), Carrie Imler’s utter confidence and seamless, exciting jumps, Ariana Lallone’s authoritative, precise, gracious queen.

This is a handsome, grand production, threatening to overpower the dancers in grandeur (scenery) and cuteness (small children as bugs), but the dancing steals the show really, as does the powerful music, Mendelssohn’s music (a particular challenge for the violins, but admirable met) was glorious.

In other characterizations, most interesting were Chalnessa Eames’ bright but delicate Butterfly, Jeffrey Stanton and Maria Chapman’s emotional Demetrius and Helena, Stacy Lowenberg’s dreamy Helena, Barry Karolis’s attentive Bottom, and Coryphe Jessika Anspach in anything (what a delightful, affable dancer). Lastly, truly remarkable was Olivier Wevers and Kaori Nakamura in the Act II Divertissement (one they have danced together often) — a lovely, lyrical, expansive dance; these two dance comfortably together, with much nuance, tenderness, and awareness. Sadly, Wevers retires from PNB this season (as does Stanton, Lallone, Eames, Lowenberg, Karolis, and Stanko Milov and Josh Spell). Most, however, are moving on to great and exciting projects – happily, many in Seattle.

Crystal Pite

Saturday, April 2nd, 2011

Canadian dancer/choreographer Crystal Pite and company, Kidd Pivot, wowed audiences at On the Boards in February with her allegorical Dark Matters. Ostensibly, the title of her new work refers to both states of physics and of the human condition. But for me, the piece was more about the gut (human condition) than about the neutrino. With music by Vancouver composer and long-time collaborator Owen Belton, this piece was an electrifying essay on risk and regret.

Pite’s cautionary tale features the creation (a puppet) of a solitary artist (the amazing Peter Chu). But this tiny, gutsy, autonomous doll, assisted by several able-bodied dancers clothed in black, performs stunning back-leaps and other creepy moves that are altogether maleficent. Sometimes its actions — a genuflection, say, are outright poignant. Pite’s moves for the dancers are grand, clean, smooth, and coherent — every part of the body seems to be communicating with the other. What then follows is a catastrophic pas de deux in which personae and environment are completely ruined due to lack of self-control and self-awareness. The movement is gorgeous and unpredictable. Brimming with pathos, it’s a piece I would see over and over again.


Dance in Seattle — January Dance Magazine

Monday, February 21st, 2011
Childrenz Muzeum (photo at On the Boards, Washington Hall, 1986. Pictured: L to R; Lee Carrillo, Eric Brown, Judy Pettet, Eric Nutt, Arturo Peal (also Composer), Rick Krause, Lynn Jacobson.  Music: Arturo Peal, Set and Lighting Design: Beliz Brother Photo: Beliz Brother

Childrenz Muzeum (photo at On the Boards, Washington Hall, 1986). Pictured: L to R; Lee Carrillo, Eric Brown, Judy Pettet, Eric Nutt, Arturo Peal (also Composer), Rick Krause, Lynn Jacobson. Music: Arturo Peal, Set and Lighting Design: Beliz Brother Photo: Beliz Brother


Nutritious Foods for Dancers

Tuesday, February 15th, 2011

See my blogpost on nourishing foods!

Nourishing foods for dancers (low sugar, rich in nutritious fats)

Nourishing foods for dancers (low sugar, rich in nutritious fats)

Robbie Burns night, also a celebration of dance

Sunday, January 30th, 2011

Last night, five young Highland dancers and three Irish step dancers performed on a thin wood flooring (on a cement foundation – ouch!). We Scottish Country dancers had an easier time of it. In the small Irish dance group, there were two national champions – and all qualified for the world competition in Dublin this year. They all had amazing ankle and knee flexibility, and how they dance on their toes without a wood block, is a virtual mystery to me.

Robbie Burns, warming up for the Irish dancers

Robbie Burns, warming up for the Irish dancers

Black Swan (again) or a universal theory of everything: When Food is Toxic

Friday, January 28th, 2011

One of the recent film Black Swan’s many poignant moments is “the cake scene,” when ballerina Nina has just learned she’s landed the role of the Swan Queen (Odette/Odile) and Nina’s mother presents her with, well, a huge cake. There’s a lot of fear around (eating) the cake; this could be due to many things emotional, psychological — but also physical. According to some specialists, like MIT researcher Stephanie Seneff,* artists like Nina could well be starving themselves of fats and cholesterol, and staying very thin with little buffer of fats and cholesterol. It could, in fact, be quite difficult to digest any fats presented to them (there’s not enough cholesterol to be able to synthesize bile acids) – in a sense, you become allergic to food. Depriving the body of cholesterol leads to (oxidation-) damaged cells and fats can become dangerous. Phew! Best not to deprive the body in the first place.

This also explains how nutrient-dense foods can sometimes be toxic in therapeutic treatments as well. Hence, the nutrient-poor therapeutic treatments for cancer, may work, in part because the alternatives aren’t (literally) very appealing!

For more telling reviews of Black Swan: see Wendy Whelan’s work at

*See links in

Critic weighing in: Black Swan

Tuesday, January 18th, 2011

One of the most disturbing movies I’ve seen recently is Black Swan. Reportedly ten years in gestation, the movie is provocative (on many counts) and is a strong statement on perfectionist tendencies that are utterly destructive. If there is any consistent theme in the movie, it has to do with the power we have to create environments of our own choosing. Clearly, in Black Swan, the young ballerina (Nina, played by Natalie Portman) who is cast as a “new” Swan Queen feels vulnerable and powerless. Nina’s attempts at transformation from the ephemeral white swan, Odette, to a cunning femme-fatale Odile is a main focus of the film.

Supposedly, Portman was in training for many months to achieve a sylph-like appearance; port-de-bras was perhaps achieved more easily (see young dancer Holly Lynn Fusco’s account of her work as a ballerina on the set ABT Soloists Sarah Lane and Maria Riccetto filled in for the two main leads, so every scene we hear had to be shot twice, once with the actors, and once with the dancing doubles, and then the multiple takes edited.

The movie is brilliantly directed by Darren Aronofsky. Still, at times, the movie can feel more like Shutter Island than The Red Shoes. For other critics’ takes see, (Marcia Siegel) and for dancers’ see Few feel it describes well their profession and its challenges — some say it may even damage ballet’s image, certainly Swan Lake’s position in audience-pleasing repertory – personally, I don’t think it will.

For me, infantile treatment (by mom Barbara Hershey) and the infantile-nature of the young ballerina, the self-mutilation, the psychotic fantasies, are horrifying. As is echoed repeatedly, perfection is not just about control, it’s also about letting go. Seems like there’d be more than the one (bloody, self-destructive) way presented in the movie to achieve this. But then this psychodrama wouldn’t be half as creepy as it is.

Several (more) important lessons from jazzercise (no less).

Tuesday, January 18th, 2011

I am struck by how something as simple as focus — during exercise — can actually increase caloric expenditure. It’s easy for eyes-to-glaze-over in technique class, sometimes we are barely present. True, dance can serve as a kind of meditation, but often, at least in classical ballet, the dance practice itself has direction and intent, certainly in the effort to improve technique. Just recently, I noticed untrained dancers (as in a jazzercise class) gradually learning to make bodily connections, which include good upper torso placement, deliberate and very active placement of arms (even during vigorous exercise), a well-aligned cervical spine, and yes, a gaze that is purposeful. When all of that happens, exercise for proprioceptive training (balance, coordination) – and increasing calorie expenditure – seem to go hand in hand.

Happy New Year — the secrets of weight loss and good health, revealed

Friday, December 31st, 2010

Eat fat to lose fat? For more, see