PNB’s dancers shine in “Contemporary 4”

  • Jackson Holtz
  • Sunday, March 20, 2011 6:56pm
  • Life

Pacific Northwest Ballet’s dancers took on Marco Goecke’s world premier of “Place a Chill” with tremendous athleticism and precision.

The staccato movements were carefully synchronized with the gorgeously played Cello Concerto No. 1 by Camille Saint-Saens. Goecke choreographed the piece with the young cellist Jacqueline du Pre in mind. She died at an early age of multiple sclerosis. The Saint-Saens concerto was her final recording.

Played on Saturday by cellist Page Smith, the music was a sharp counter-point the dancer’s frenetic and fast, seemingly uncontrollable movements. Their uniformity showed that each arm movement, each back bend and swirl were carefully choreographed. It was a marvel to see the company work so beautifully together in such a challenging dance.

The result was breathtaking and deeply moving. The dance was a highlight in “Contemporary 4” a very strong program which runs through March 27.

The program proves that classical dance still is a very vibrant art form with creative minds changing and challenging the way music can be interpreted in movement.

PNB presented Alexander Ratmansky’s “Concerto DSCH” for the first time on the Seattle stage. The piece is lively and playful. Like in “Place a Chill,” the company worked together in practiced and perfected harmony.

Mark Morris’ “Pacific” was flowing and lyric. The costumes are culottes, skirt-like pants suggestive of Pacific Islander cultures. They add to the rhythm of the dancer’s movements.

I found Paul Gibson’s “The Piano Dance,” set to 10 widely varied solo piano pieces, the least interesting of the four dances, but still a wonderful work of abstract visual interest.

Don’t go to “Contemporary 4” expecting strong story lines or ornate sets. These are sparse, abstract dances. But they are fresh, wonderful and powerful.

For more information or tickets, go to

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