Pacific Northwest Ballet company dancers in Kent Stowell’s Swan Lake, running February 2 – 11, 2018. Photo © Angela Sterling.

by Angela Sterling || Pacific Northwest Ballet

What to expect when you see Swan Lake at McCaw Hall

I love the ballet, and this is one of the classics.

February 9, 2018
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I married a ballerina, and now I go to the ballet. That's not a sentence I ever thought I would write, specifically from a dude who used to think the whole idea of "art" was lost in the coffers of the church or leaders of wealthy countries that commissioned it. I was younger and dumber then.

Cirque du Soleil at Marymoor Park is a fantastic, mind-bending evening

We went to see Swan Lake (now playing)- as a member of the local media, I'm grateful for the invitation by Pacific Northwest Ballet. It's a classic ballet about royalty, magic, birds, love, and deception - so pretty much everything I like in a film, only performed live. Natalie Portman arrogantly starred in a movie about this piece called Black Swan. It's a big deal.

by Angie Sterling || Pacific Northwest Ballet

My initial reaction to ballet as a "dude who likes sports" focused on the physical ability the performers demonstrate from their tippy toes or whilst flying through the air. These dancers are just as fine a physical specimen as Richard Sherman in "costume" as my wife calls it, only without trying to rip anyone's head off. Swan Lake would be WAY different...

The performance has a striking stage with a mix of traditional of-the-era architecture and hauntingly spooky leafless trees. It would have been cool to remove the architecture during the nature scenes, but I'll live. The live score performed from the orchestra pit could easily speak to any of my fellow 90's gaming friends like something straight from a chapter of Final Fantasy. Plus, several of the songs have been made popular in other capacities like Dracula and by Beyoncè, etc. It was this third viewing where I connected that the Japanese programmers for fantasy games like FFVII must have had a connection to the arts.

Pacific Northwest Ballet principal dancers Seth Orza as Siegfried, and Noelani Pantastico as Odette, in Kent Stowell’s Swan Lake, running February 2 – 11, 2018. Photo © Angela Sterling.
Seth Orza, Noelani Pantastico © Angela Sterling || Pacific Northwest Ballet

PNB does a wonderful job with their principal dancers. The performances by Seth Orza as the male lead, Seigfried, and the gorgeous Noelani Pantastico as Odile/Odette feature not just the dancing ability, but also the silent stage acting. This attention makes up for what wasn't the tightest corps of dancers behind them. Noelani played Juliette last year in Roméo et Juliette, and I've gone from not knowing anything about ballet to making sure we attend her performances. 

I love the costume work combined with the individual skills - dancers making long dresses fill with air like an inverted springtime tulip in a moment that feels weightless. My wife tells me the costumes were created by the same expert who outfits the original Hamilton cast. The Jester character was excellent, the orchestra wonderful, and at some point, the main character's friend Wolfgang who has been drinking from his neverending goblet of booze executed a brief stumbling drunken moment providing a break from the haughty scene in which he is cast. 

Swans
by Angela Sterling || Pacific Northwest Ballet

From a dude who wakes up to watch soccer all day, every weekend, I've become a man excited to see the ballet several times a year. Without PNB in town, I don't think it would have been possible to find this side of the arts and I'm happy to support!

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