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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, April 19, 2013 - Volume 41 Issue 16
Sensational Swan Lake shimmers at McCaw Hall
Arts & Entertainment
ALL STORIES
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Sensational Swan Lake shimmers at McCaw Hall

Must-see event holds final performances this weekend

by Milton W. Hamlin - SGN A&E Writer

SWAN LAKE
PACIFIC NORTHWEST BALLET
Through April 21


Pacific Northwest Ballet continues its incredible 40th season with a polished, impeccable revival of its beloved Swan Lake, perhaps the finest story ballet PNB co-founder Kent Stowell has ever staged.

Stowell's glorious production is based, in great part, on the iconographic choreography by Russia's Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov (as is virtually every major story ballet still performed in the Western world - you name it, the Russians did it first).

A TRAGIC LIFE
Swan Lake's haunting music was obviously torn from the soul of a depressed, closeted, and emotionally unstable musical genius named Tchaikovsky, who clearly saw the story of a dual personality trapped in one body as his fate. He would, tragically, take his own life after an attempt at an ill-fated traditional marriage, but his genius, and his anguish, live on with his immortal music.

None of this mattered as the SGN regulars arrived, but Tchaikovsky's fate as a tormented, closeted Gay man needs to be acknowledged, respected, and honored by all. Enough said.

This SGN scribe had literally come directly from SeaTac, returning to Seattle after a four-month stay in New York City - a trip prompted by Pacific Northwest Ballet's triumphant return to City Center with two glorious programs over Valentine's Day week: an all-Balanchine mixed-rep opening and the sensational revival of the French Romeo et Juliette.

THE 'PRELUDE' AT PRELUDE
Making his entrance at Prelude, the wonderful restaurant inside McCaw Hall, this writer arrived just minutes before the legendary Ruby Bishop joined the SGN table. Often the 'rose' with this 'thorn' at SGN music and arts events, the living legend was glowing in ... well, ruby-colored everything. At 93, she still packs 'em in every Sunday night from 6 p.m. on at Vito's on First Hill - thaz the Mad Men retro bar that is so so so hot hot hot.

Rob, our waiter, did a terrific job. We ordered in the restaurant, gulped our delicious hot soup, and started our main dishes. Then, the Terrific Trio (or the Terrifying Trio, as loyal readers will recall) arrived. They include Miss V, this writer's talented and charming granddaughter, along with Miss V II, her best friend, and Miss A, her other best friend.

Armed with our Teen Tix, we swept off to the box office where the greatest staff in the entire world re-seated the five of us in the most desirable seats imaginable - way in the back for easy bathroom runs. Great sightlines, no slanted aisles to thwart the physically challenged, etc.

Rob moved our dinners to the press room where The Trio politely greeted the PR staff and walked cautiously (in their tiaras and heels) to get soft drinks, juices, and the evening's constant highlight, Dilettante chocolates.

CURTAIN TIME
'On a dark and stormy night ...' And the Trio were enchanted at their very first Harry Potter-like Swan Lake opening. Three real-looking swans glided on stage and were magically transformed into three dancers who really seemed to be swans en pointe. Perfection.

Then, tragedy! The Prince is tricked by the Evil Magician. Odette is not there - it's the Black Swan, Odile! 'Oh, no,' exclaims the Trio, 'the Prince is tricked. But he loves the White Swan and she is - gasp - the evil Black Swan.'

A tragic ending that illustrates a good moral: Be true to your own feelings, stay with purity (the White Swan), and avoid evil (the Black Swan). Great messages for teen girls today, bethinks this grandfather.

The production features new sets by the world's greatest designer of 20th-century stages, Ming Cho Lee. Be sure to take an extra five minutes and bask in the special exhibit recapping the designer's special relationship with PNB.

Carla K├Ârbes and the super-handsome Karel Cruz simply are Odette (the Swan Queen) and the Prince. Their glorious dancing was matched in its brilliance by the PNB Orchestra, conducted by Emil de Cou, which brought the sweeping, tragic themes to life. All get a 10 out of 10.

Swan Lake's final performances, both evenings and matinees, are this Saturday and Sunday. Information and reservations: (206) 441-2424 or www pnb.org. Teen Tix are $5 and last-minute Rush tickets are half-price, both subject to availability, of course. Value: beyond belief. Incomparable. Tell 'em SGN sent ya - they like to know that.

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