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ArtsPage

A way to keep up with Seattle theaters, concert halls, galleries, museums and other fine-arts events.

September 13, 2012 at 12:10 PM

A backward glance at PNB’s four decades

Pacific Northwest Ballet celebrates its 40th-anniversary season this year. The company, launched in 1972 as the fledgling Pacific Northwest Dance Association, had only 18 dancers by 1977, when Francia Russell and Kent Stowell began their long reign as artistic directors; it now has 46 under the leadership of Peter Boal, who took over as head in 2005. Over the years, PNB has seen many milestones — a renovation of the Opera House, a partnership with Maurice Sendak for “Nutcracker,” new studios and offices at the Phelps Center, the growth of the PNB School — but in looking back, it’s the performances that linger. Here are a few unforgettable dancers and vivid memories of PNB’s past from The Seattle Times archive.

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Deborah Hadley and Benjamin Houk: “(They) dance together like few other couples in ballet — or in any other dance endeavor. They have similarly lean, muscular bodies, the same nervy impulse, the same hot energy channeled into lyrical shapes or punchy phrases that could explode at any moment.” (By Carole Beers, Feb. 2, 1990; photo courtesy of PNB.)

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Patricia Barker: “Always in the moment and awake to ways to enhance a viewer’s pleasure, she uses her expressive face, head and arms to expand the artistry of her beautiful legs, and informs every step and pose with wonder, as if she were seeing it — and herself — for the first time.” (By Carole Beers, Feb. 28, 1990; photo by Ben Kerns.)
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Lucien Postlewaite and Noelani Pantastico: “(Postlewaite’s) Roméo was boyish and movingly besotted, gazing at Pantastico as if she truly could ‘teach the torches to burn bright.’ Pantastico, looking on in wonderment as if love had taken possession of her limbs (there’s a lovely bit where her hands flutter like butterflies), danced the balcony scene with a dazzled joy.” (By Moira Macdonald, Feb. 2, 2009; photo by Angela Sterling.)
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Jeffrey Stanton: “Jeffrey Stanton stole the show with jazzy shrugs, a carefree attitude and terrific stepping.” (By Mary Murfin Bayley, April 16, 1999; photo by Angela Sterling.)
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Thordal Christensen: “If the power of an entire ballet can hinge on one man’s expression, it did at the Saturday matinee of Pacific Northwest Ballet’s ‘The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet.’ The show belonged to Thordal Christensen from the start … .” (By Carole Beers, Oct. 10, 1988; photo by Ben Kerns.)
Colleen Neary: “There’s a grandeur about Neary, as is proper for queens and true ballerinas. But there’s an intelligent, honest and sharing person, too. She lets you into her fun.” (By Carole Beers, Dec. 15, 1989.)
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Julie Tobiason: “The audience was in her apron pocket, sharing her concerns and joys, reading her thoughts and feelings every step, every moment.” (By Carole Beers, June 12, 1988; photo by Angela Sterling.)
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Sterling Kekoa: “Kekoa doesn’t just dance notes, he plays them with his entire body, a fearless and increasingly expressive instrument.” (By Carole Beers, Feb. 3, 1989; photo by Ben Kerns.)
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Ariana Lallone: “The memory of Lallone dancing this season will rank with some of the highest pleasures dance can afford. You could attend ballet for many years without seeing a dancer as good, as lit-up and as on as she has been this year.” (By Mary Murfin Bayley, May 24, 1998; photo by Ben Kerns.)
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Louise Nadeau and Olivier Wevers: “(They) danced the beautiful Act 2 divertissement — one of Balanchine’s loveliest pas de deux — as if lit by enchanted moonlight. Nadeau, leaning into a breathlessly extended arabesque, falls gently into Wevers’ arms in a movement as delicate as a sigh.” (By Moira Macdonald, April 5, 2008; photo by Angela Sterling.)

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