A week ago I had a dilemma. Sue and I have had season tickets to the ballet for about four years now, and the next night we had tickets was tonight. I didn't want to go alone, I certainly wasn't asking a guy, and asking women would have seemed too weirdly like a date. Giving the tickets away or selling them seemed like way too much of a retreat. I mentioned this to a friend of mine, Edward, and he said that his wife Susanna would surely love to go, and that there was no way on this earth that he would take her. This seemed like the perfect way to go so I asked Susanna, and off we went to the ballet tonight.
The next night I mentioned the ballet dilemma to friends and ended up with three more volunteer wives. I have one performance left, which is going in the church auction on Saturday. Dinner and ballet with Dave... It doesn't hurt that our seats are front row of an upper box.
I particularly didn't want to miss tonight because the program, Contemporary Classics, featured Kiss, a piece they performed only 18 months ago, and which was brilliant. There was also Caught, featuring strobe lighting that makes it appear the solo dancer is floating around the stage.
Susanna and I had a lovely dinner, then took a walk out to get coffee, then took our seats in plenty of time to scope out the auditorium. The first piece was Agon, a 50 year old classic Balanchine piece. I have never been able to see what people see in Balanchine, and Agon was OK, but not outstanding. Then came an intermission before the two short feature pieces. Kiss was up first, and was just as beautiful as I remember it. Two dancers are suspended on wires and kiss, entangle and disentangle to Arvo Pärt's haunting Cantus in memory of Benjamin Britten. Sue and I loved it when we saw it last year in the Valentine's program and it was just as good this time around.
After a brief pause, Caught was performed by Noelani Pantastico (who is one of the driving forces behind the behind-the-scenes look at ballet life at PNB Unleashed), the only female dancer entrusted with the work. After a brief introduction with the dancer moving between pools of light thrown by floodlights, the dancer leaps around the stage illuminated only by strobe lighting, controlled (as best I can tell) by a remote in her hand. At one point, Noe appeared in the same leaping pose about seven times in different places around a circle. Amazing stuff. The electronic music by Robert Fripp was a fitting backdrop.
Those two pieces I expected to be impressed by, and I certainly was. After another intermission, the final piece was In The Upper Room, choreographed by Twyla Tharp to music by Philip Glass. The few pieces by Philip Glass that I've heard before led me to low expectations for this piece, but it proved to be a forty minute delight. The music, dance and costume metamorphoses kept me spellbound throughout. Absolutely brilliant.
We stayed for the twenty minute question and answer session with Peter Boal, the director, who is always charming and eloquent, and Noelani, who answered a lot of questions about Caught and her career in general.
Fabulous night, just fabulous. If you're in the Seattle area and this might be at all up your alley, you really should catch this.