Pacific Northwest Ballet opened their fortieth season with Cinderella, a nifty nod to the company’s past as well as a charming showcase for many of their future stars.
Choreographed by founding artistic director Kent Stowell, this fairytale goes to the ball in splendid costumes by the late Martin Pakledinaz. Cinderella was his first commission for the Seattle ballet company. A nice tribute to all of his costumes designs for the company can be found in the lobby of McCaw Hall for the run of this show as well as display cases chronicling the history of PNB.
As part of the company’s anniversary celebrations, current PNB Artistic Director Peter Boal invited Marisa Albee, former PNB soloist and current faculty member of the PNB School, to reprise the role of Stepsister that Stowell created for her in 1994. Albee appears in the Sept. 29 (7:30 p.m.) and 30 performances this weekend.
The opening performance last weekend was enlivened by a special appearance by principal dancer Patricia Barker as the Ringmaster in Jerome Robbins’ Circus Polka. As tiny PNB students took to the stage as the circling “ponies” herded by the Ringmaster, the future of ballet and its place in Seattle’s artistic heart appeared in excellent hands.
Opening night delights continued with the appearance of such audience favorites as Carla Korbes as a tender and caring Cinderella, Carrie Imler as a majestic Fairy Godmother, Jonathan Porretta as an acrobatic jester, and Karel Cruz as a stalwart prince with a slight shoe obsession.
Bugs, clock children, and various attendants were danced by student performers, demonstrating the strength of the training program that has grown from very humble beginnings at the Good Shepherd Center in Wallingford to one of America’s best ballet schools with campuses in Seattle and Bellevue.
Of the sixty-two children performing in this ballet, twelve are DanceChance students. DanceChance is PNB School’s groundbreaking outreach program that provides an opportunity for Seattle-area elementary students to study at the School on full scholarship (check the “Nathaniel and Enrico” video to learn more about the impact of the program on its participants).
Enhanced by the playing of PNB Orchestra conducted by Emil de Cou, the evening ended with the signature twirl under a glittering fall of fairy dust for Cinderella and her Prince.
Performances continue through this weekend at the Seattle Center. For times, tickets, and casts, check the PNB website.