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June 10, 2014 at 6:45 AM

Stars in the Pacific Northwest Ballet firmament

As the tearful story of unrequited love drew to a close at the Saturday matinee of Pacific Northwest Ballet’s Giselle, there was barely a dry eye in McCaw Hall.

Pacific Northwest Ballet principal dancer Kaori Nakamura as Giselle. (Photo by Angela Sterling)

Pacific Northwest Ballet principal dancer Kaori Nakamura as Giselle.
(Photo by Angela Sterling)

Broken hearts indeed. PNB principal dancer Kaori Nakamura gave her final performance. She was Giselle. Five curtain calls offered Nakamura a warm embrace and bid her a fond farewell into retirement.

Giselle is a treasured role in ballet, and it was a fitting celebration of Nakamura’s skills. A departure and a triumph combined into one dazzling performance. Her work has been celebrated across continents. She joined PNB as a soloist in 1997 and became a principal dancer in 1998. She will now join the faculty of PNB ballet school.

The collective performances, staging and storytelling were magical. One scene in particular was supernatural. Myrtha, Queen of the Wilis, opens Act II by floating across a foreboding glade. Principal dancer Carrie Imler was Myrtha, and she simply defied gravity. Extraordinary.

Another valued company member who has stayed en pointe for years – though behind the scenes – is D. David Brown. He is retiring as PNB’s executive director, a role he assumed in May 2000. In the storm-tossed sea of life as a non-profit enterprise, Brown has worked to keep PNB stable and viable. The ballet company is a beneficiary of the ArtsFund, which is a vote of confidence in itself. Brown has earned a grand plié into a loge seat.

Nakamura and Brown were both honored Sunday at PNB’s celebratory Season Encore, which brought down the curtain on the 41st season.

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