Pacific Northwest Ballet’s big, fluffy, and super sparkly Sleeping Beauty enters its final weekend at McCaw Hall with performances tonight through Sunday (Feb. 9).
Since 1890, this story ballet has kept dancers on their toes – quite literally – with its famous Rose Adagio that requires the lead ballerina to balance effortlessly, and seemingly endlessly, en pointe as four would-be suitors present her with flowers.
On opening night last Friday, PNB principal dancer Kaori Nakamura demonstrated exactly how it should be done with her usual flawless technique. It was a moment to be savored, although with some sadness as Nakamura has announced that this will be her last season with the company. She retires in June.
However, as missed as she will be, PNB continues to nurture the next generation of stars. Artistic director Peter Boal announced four promotions prior to curtain last Friday. Soloists Lindsi Dec and Laura Tisserand became principal dancers, and William Lin-Yee, Margaret Mullin, and Elizabeth Murphy moved from the corps de ballet to the rank of soloists.
Because a big show like Sleeping Beauty provides more than just a rotating cast of princesses and princes, the audience got to see all but Mullin that night as well as most of the rest of the company and numerous students from the PNB School next door.
Ronald Hynd’s choreography, originally created for the English National Ballet, draws on the grand traditions of this Russian masterpiece and the original choreography of Marius Petipa.
Every gathering led to huge peasant dances like the Garland Dance and Marzurka, reminding the audience that the Russian ballets of the 19th century were the big spectacle entertainment of their day. Some truly high-flying special effects involved fairies both good and bad
A whole host of fairies led by Tisserand as the Lilac Fairy appeared in the prologue. These small but brilliant little dances allow corps de ballet members like Angelica Generosa a chance to shine early in the evening.
In the Act III wedding celebration, larger pas de deux and pas de trois dances commanded nearly as much admiration as the Grand Pas de Deux danced by Nakamura and her prince Seth Orza.
Whether the high leaps and turns of the Gold and Silver Pas de Trois (Dec, Andrew Bartee, and Jerome Tisserand), the lovable cats Puss in Boots and the White Cat (Kiyon Gaines and Sarah Ricard Orza), the delicate Bluebird Pas de Deux (Leta Biasucci and Benjamin Griffiths), or slightly sinister chase of Riding Hood by her Wolf (Carli Samuelson and Charles McCall), all stopped the show for long minutes of applause.
Another crowd pleaser was Jonathan Porretta, who donned the very big nose and even bigger wig to play Carabosse the Wicked Fairy with considerable relish on opening night.
The PNB Orchestra performed with their usual panache Tchakovsky’s brilliant score. Their playing will be rebroadcast tomorrow (Feb. 8, 7:30 p.m.) on KING FM 98.1 or can be heard streamed live via king.org/listen at that time.
Sleeping Beauty continues at McCaw Hall through Feb. 9. For more on tickets and times, see the company’s website.