The curtain rises on a formation of lithe ballerinas dressed in gauzy, icy blue. Silence fills the stage. Then suddenly the first notes of the orchestra begin and the dancers move in unison.
As their right feet tendu out to second then close fifth, my heart skipped a beat and tears sprang to my eyes.
This is Balanchine's Serenade. This is what ballet is all about.
The crystalline nymphs (Laura Gilbreath, Ariana Lallone, Lesley Rausch) and their dashing suitors (Karel Cruz, William Lin-Yee) moved as if ushered along the wings of heaven itself. It was a truly magnificent display! Pacific Northwest Ballet principal dancers Carrie Imler and Lucien Postlewaite with company dancers in Square Dance, choreographed by George Balanchine © The George Balanchine Trust. Photo © Angela Sterling
While Serenade made me sigh in dreamy pleasure, act two's Square Dance left me grinning from ear to ear. This lively, kick-up-your-heels variation showcased the tantalizing partnership of dancers Rachel Foster and Benjamin Griffiths to perfection. Their artistic brilliance combined with their wide, infectious smiles were a hit with everyone in the audience.
Last but not least, was the third performance of the afternoon; The Four Temperaments. Now this was the one that left everyone cheering. Literally.
The cast of dancers were absolutely amazing: Jordan Pacitti and Kylee Kitchens were riveting, and their exit was spectacular!
Jonathan Poretta never ceases to amaze or gain new fans. The way he pulled out all the stops during his Melancholic variation left me craving for more.
Then there was Seth Orza and Lesley Rausch's Sanguine Variation. As we all know, Seth's commanding presence is so captivating, it would be easy for him to unintentionally outshine his partner. Let's face it; he's that freaking good. But Rausch held her ground and gave an outstanding performance of her own. Bravo!
Olivier Wevers and his fellow "Phlegmatics" were carefree, charming and delightful. I loved the look of the bent wrists, and how they took on a playful "primping Egyptian" feel.
But the real show-stopper was the fourth and final variation: Lindsi Dec's "Choleric". This young soloist attacked her role with such fervor and precision that it left me breathless. She shot out of the wings like a supernova, lighting up the stage like it was nobody's business. Her lines--those quintessential Balanchine lines--were nothing short of gorgeous. It felt as if everything else had been purposely leading up to her entrance; the grandest of grand finales.
Throughout the entire performance, the dancer's faces were radiant with joy. Their bodies propelled and guided by a consuming inner fire; a fire that burns hottest when a dancer is in his/her element. Indeed, Balanchine is that element.
Don't miss your chance to see Pacific Northwest Ballet's All Balanchine. Tickets available by visiting PNB.org.