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Pacific Northwest Ballet

  • Madison Abeo - An Interview with Rising Star

    Young dancers spend countless hours in the studio developing their skills and artistry. While you will often find their peers hanging out at the mall or movie theater, these hard working young men and women will deny themselves the typical pleasures of teenage life for the promise of a shining dance career.

    Madison Abeo, a level VIII student at Pacific Northwest Ballet School, is one such dancer who recently caught our eye. We were not only impressed with Madison's classic beauty and winning smile, but by her charisma, work ethic and dedication to both her family and her art. This young lady is the living, breathing definition of a "class act" - and we're thrilled to introduce her to all of you!

    Ladies and gentlemen, Miss Madison Abeo...

    Grace:  Madison Abeo

    Grace:


    Hello, Madison. Please share about yourself and how you got your start in ballet.

    I was 3 years old and my family and I were living in Zambia, Africa. We had traveled there while I was young to do work in the villages. My parents put me in a local ballet class because I was clumsy and always tripping over my feet. We lived there for 2 years and when we moved back to the states I took classes at a small ballet studio in Monroe, where the teacher was a Cornish graduate. She encouraged me to audition for Cornish and then I danced there for 4 years before moving to PNBS.

    When did you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that a career in dance was right for you?

    When I did my first Nutcracker performance at Cornish, and played the role of Clara – I knew I wanted to dance professionally. Its hard to explain how it made me feel, its something only a dancer understands. I dance because of the feeling I get when I dance, there really is no word to describe it.

    Many locals are familiar with your father's "artistic" side. Can you share a little bit about your family with our readers?

    My dad is local rapper RA Scion, who was in a group called Common Market. My mom manages his music and the business side of things. He has had music videos on MTV and done 5 or 6 CD’s. I am in a few of the videos. We have had an exciting life. I have been to huge concerts and danced on stage with him at Bumbershoot, Sasquatch Festival, and toured to several cities him on the road when I was younger. I have seen the fun side of music festivals, the VIP and green rooms, the backstage life is something that is the same in music as it is in dance.

    How has their influence affected you? Are they supportive of your career or did they caution you against it?

    I don’t feel like they have influenced me in the way of dance. Neither of them are dancers, but they did influence me with how I perform and work. Both are very hard workers. My dad taught me the value of not only hard work but how important the quality of a good performance and show is. How to be a humble and a grateful performer and how to work to do your best for the sake of the audience.

    You've had the opportunity to meet and work with many local artists - both in music and dance. Can you share a little about that? What were some of your most favorite projects?

    I have worked with a few bands and danced in their music videos. My favorite music video was for a local group called Alabaster. It was a fun atmosphere and they gave me a lot of artistic freedom. I was also asked to work with STG/Paramount for their annual DOORS fundraising event, where I was honored to have Olivier Wevers choreograph a piece for me to perform, and PNB was nice enough to loan me a costume. I was the only classically trained ballet dancer highlighted that night, and I got to meet some amazing people that donate to the arts.

    What programs are you looking at for summer?

    I auditioned for 4 schools, ABT New York, San Fran Ballet, Boston Ballet and Houston Ballet and I was grateful to get into all 4! I have recently made the decision to attend San Fran Ballet summer intensive, after discussing it with my parents, my teachers I decided it was best for my future.

    Even with partial scholarships, summer intensives can be quite expensive! Unlike many students, I've heard you're actually working to help off-set some of the costs associated with your intensive. Tell us a little more about that.

    Yes they are very expensive! I am always shocked at how parents can afford to send their kids every year to these programs that are $4-7,000 and then you have airfare, spending money, etc. My family has never been able to afford such things. I am grateful to my grandparents that have helped with the costs in the past. Now that I am old enough to help work to earn the money, I have been babysitting and saving every penny! I also have created a Facebook fan page, at the suggestion of my Aunt, and people who had no children for me to babysit, that wanted to donate and invest in my future. It means so much to me that so many people not only believe in me, but that they are helping me reach my dream.

    Working, going to school and taking dance class...that's quite a load! Please share what a typical "day in the life" is like for you.

    A typical day for me is – waking up around 6:45am to get ready for school. Packing a lunch and all of my school and dance gear. School until 1:30pm, and I attend the Center School, which is at the Seattle Center, so I just walk to PNB from there. I take about an hour to change, tape my feet and stretch. Then class, which is always on pointe at this level (Level VIII) is from Mon-Sat from 3:00 until 5:30. I stretch briefly after class, get home around 6pm, eat a quick dinner. Then if it’s a Friday, I babysit from 7 until Midnight or spend the rest of my night doing homework. Saturdays are usually the longest dance day, my level dances from 11:30am until 4pm and I arrive early at 9am to take the Pilates class that is provided to help with my core strength.

    Strength:  Madison Abeo

    Strength:

    Many young dancers have strong mentors in their lives who encourage and inspire them. Who are your mentors and how important has their influence been to your success?

    Some of the people I consider to be mentors are Olivier Wevers (Former PNB Principle dancer and director of Whim W’him dance Co.), Andrew Bartee, Sarah Pasch (PNB dancers), Rena Robinson-Steiner (Former PNB Teacher and dancer with Dance Theater of Harlem), and Colleen Dishy (former RAD and Cornish college teacher). In one way or another, all of these people have spent one on one time with me, giving me advice, encouragement and have been amazing examples for how to be the best dancer I can be.

    You've also done some modeling for Vala Dancewear. Can you share how that partnership came about?

    My mom likes to take photos for fun and some of the pictures caught the eye of an amazing dance mom (You! Lol) who gifted me a leotard and my mother took photos of me in it. Rebecca, the owner loved the photos and was so nice - gave me even more leos for my mom to take photos of me in! I love the leos because they are a great twist of classic styles, they are comfortable and SO much more reasonable than some of the other brands. The most recent photoshoot we did was with professionals, La Vie Photography / Bamberg Fine Art Photography – in which I wore Vala leos AND Class Act tutus. It was kind of a fashion ballet photo shoot, with some partnering photos that included my class dance partner Levi Teachout. We spent all day taking photos in different tutus and outfits, and we have already seen a couple of the shots and they are so beautiful! I am so excited to see how the rest turned out!

    Beauty:  Madison Abeo

    Beauty:


    Okay...loaded question time! Who are your favorite dancers?

    My favorite dancers are: Carla Korbes (PNB Principle dancer) – She is the perfect dancer. Not only does she have amazing feet, lines and expression – she is one of the nicest and most down to earth ballerina’s at the ballet. She is kind, humble and smiles at you when you say hi. When I watch her dance, she takes my breath away. Lucien Postelwaite (Ballet Monte Carlo) was the main reason I wanted to dance with PNB. He is a star. The perfect blend of grace and strength. As a younger dancer and before he left PNB, I often said I wanted to someday dance a piece with him! Andrew Bartee (PNB dancer) can do things with his body that I have never seen other people do. He is a true artist and isn’t afraid to be himself.

    Is there anything from your past (dance or otherwise) that if you could - you'd change?

    My parents have taught me that all of the challenges we face help make you who are now, so I don’t think I would change anything!

    Developing as a dancer and artist takes dedicated, consistent effort and tons of "sweat". How do you stay so motivated?

    Family, friends and my passion for dance is what keeps me going.

    Do you have friends outside of dance? If so, do they support you in your efforts?

    Yes I have friends outside of dance. My true friends understand my passion for dance, they often ask me about my progress and shows and they know how much it means to me to have them at performances, so they come to as many as they can.

    What is your "dream" role?

    My dream role is of Odette/Odile in Swan Lake. I have always been mesmerized by the beautiful upper body movement of that role. The back and arms are amazing in that part. Also it is a huge test as a dancer to be able to play the pure and dark side of a character, really pushes you to the limits! I hope I get the chance to someday dance that role.

    A dancer's career is often very short. What can you see yourself doing after the final curtain goes down?

    I want to stay in the dance world, I would love to teach classes. I love kids and I think I would do well as a teacher.

    What final piece of advice would you give to other young dancers out there?

    Don’t make yourself try to fit into the “box” that some people and teachers think you need to be in order to be a good dancer. Its unrealistic. Instead, be the best dancer you can be by working on your strength and being healthy. Most of all, respect your teachers, they may not dance anymore, but they all were amazing when they did. They have learned tools that will only make things easier if you just listen. Lastly, dance is hard – on your body and on your spirit. Make sure you love it and that the love shows when you dance, or else its not worth all the pain and effort.

    To see the rest of the photos from the shoot Madison did with La Vie Photography – and to visit Madison’s dance support page, please visit https://www.facebook.com/MadisonRaynAbeo .  You can see Madison dance next in an excerpt from Balanchine’s Serenade – performed by the Level 8 dancers as part of the PNB School’s, End of Year performance on June 15th , 7pm at McCaw Hall.  Tickets can be purchased by visiting http://www.pnb.org.

    Madison is wearing Vala Dancewear's "Enchant" leotard.  Tutus courtesy of Class Act Tutu.

  • In a relationship!

    Prinicipal Dancers James Moore & Kaori Nakamua in Roméo et Juliette

    Pacific

    Huffington Post has an in-depth interview with Pacific Northwest Ballet's Artistic Director, Peter Boal and Principal Dancers, James Moore & Kaori Nakamura about Jean-Christophe Maillot's version of Roméo et Juliette.


  • Valentine’s Day with Seth Orza & Sarah Ricard Orza

    Seth Orza, Soloist and Sarah Ricard Orza, Corps de Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet.  Shown here in "Petit Mort".

    Seth

    Ah, Valentine’s Day! It’s the time of year when we shower our true love with tokens of affection, whether they be in the form of a box of chocolates, a gushy card, or a dozen roses (or all of the above!).

    In the dance world, Valentine’s Day can be especially wonderful as couples not only live, but oftentimes work, together. We decided to get an inside look at the blessings of Valentine’s Day through the eyes of the dancers themselves. First up is Seth Orza and Sarah Ricard Orza of Pacific Northwest Ballet!

    Vala: “How did you two meet?”
    Seth: “We met in New York at the School of American Ballet’s when we were both 13.”
    Sarah: “We met at the summer course. Then we got together and started dating seriously when we were both at the School of American Ballet for their year round program when we were 17. And we’ve been pretty much together ever since then. We’ve been together now for 12 years and married for 2 ½ years.”

    Seth Orza and Sarah Ricard Orza shown here at SAB Summer Course, 1995 (Age 14). Seth & Sarah met at age 13.

    Seth

    Vala: “Congratulations, that’s wonderful! So what’s the best thing about being married to a fellow dancer?”
    Sarah: “Well, I think that the dance world is just so small and intimate; sometimes it’s hard to explain or even relate to people who aren’t in the world on a daily basis—what’s going on, or what the daily ups and downs are like. So, if I’m having a bad day, Seth already knows why and that’s good.”
    Seth: “We try to help each other out along the way through the pressures of ballet, performing, and all that.”
    Sarah: “Oh, and travelling. If we tour, it’s great. It’s really nice to have your loved one with you when you’re going to all those places.”

    Vala: “How do you two plan to make this Valentine’s Day special?”
    Seth: “Well…” he says with a sly tone, “it’s kind of a surprise.”
    Vala: (Laughing) “Oops! I don’t want to ruin anything!”
    Seth: “We try to do something special every Valentines day, but it’s hard after twelve years to do something different every time.”
    Sarah: “There was one year when I had the genius idea of getting chocolate covered strawberries from Godiva. So I got a dozen chocolate strawberries only to find that in the fridge at home, Seth had also gotten a dozen Godiva strawberries!” she laughs.
    Seth: “We had a lot of chocolate strawberries!” he chuckles.
    Vala: “Great minds think alike! So, do you have any last words of advice for fellow dancers out there?”
    Seth: “It’s nice being in a relationship with a co-worker—or a dancer—and it does work out.”
    Sarah: “It’s definitely a balance, though. I mean, we’re together at work all the time and then at home all the time. So sometimes there’s days when one of us has to step back and take some space—be it at work or at home. You just find that balance with spending all of your time together.”

    Seth Orza and Sarah Ricard Orza on their Wedding Day

    Seth

    Vala: “Do you ever have a day when you really don’t want to be with the other person but you still have to work with them?”
    Seth/Sarah: “Oh no, never!” they laugh in unison.
    Seth: “Of course, but I think that happens in any relationship.”
    Sarah: “We have partnered together a lot, and that has challenges…”
    Seth: “Yeah, working together professionally…I mean, if she’s just around it’s one thing, but if we’re working together, it’s kind of hard sometimes.”
    Vala: “Well thank you both so very much! I really appreciate you taking the time to do this and I hope you have a wonderful Valentine’s Day!”
    Sarah: “Thank you! You have a happy Valentines Day, too!”

    by Denise Opper, Media Relations Class Act Tutu & Vala Dancewear

    This post first appeared Valentine's Day, 2010.

  • PNB's "All Premiere" - Diverse, Entertaining, Superb

    (l-r) Pacific Northwest Ballet principal dancer Kaori Nakamura and corps de ballet dancers Sarah Pasch and Leah O’Connor in Andrew Bartee’s arms that work, presented as part of ALL PREMIERE, November 2 – 11, 2012. Photo © Angela Sterling.

    (l-r)

    Pacific Northwest Ballet continues its milestone 40th anniversary season with the current quadruple rep, “All Premiere”. This power-packed display showcases the choreographic genius of PNB dancers Andrew Bartee, Margaret Mullin and Kiyon Gaines, as well as a world premiere by “Seattle native makes good”, Mark Morris.

    Andrew Bartee’s “arms that work” opened the show and featured a massive wavy fence constructed of long vertical elastic bands. These bands allowed the dancers to move through, behind, and sometimes artfully twisted and tangled within the structure itself. Local composer, Barret Anspach created the musical narration behind this piece. (Does that name ring a bell? It should! His sister, Jessika is one of PNB’s lovely corps members. ;) ) Anspach’s music suited Bartee’s modern mix of bouncy, halting and sometimes jerky choreography perfectly. The tone behind Bartee’s piece felt a bit reminiscent of the endless internal struggle between what we want versus what we can’t have. While I can’t say for sure that’s what Bartee was going for (I refuse to read anything about a new piece ahead of time so I don’t watch with pre-conceived ideas), but that’s the direction my thoughts traveled.

    Margaret Mullin’s “Lost in Light” followed Bartee’s piece, which exuded far more joy and loveliness. The piece featured four couples sweeping gracefully across the stage filled with minimal light streaming down as if from heaven itself. While Mullin’s neoclassical style distinctly showcased each of these couple’s stunning technical attributes to a “T”, the real standout this time was corps member, Brittany Reid. For the first time ever, I was able to catch a glimpse of this young woman’s passionate, lyrical quality and was left in near jaw-dropping awe. Seriously, folks - she was amazing and she’s definitely secured her place as one of this year’s dancers to watch.

    Mark Morris’ “Kammermusik No. 3” had no clear “story” or human element behind it, but instead focused largely on witty, angular movements sewn together with a silver thread of fun. The set featured gorgeous magenta backdrop made even more striking with a black curtain that was lowered – then raised – during the various interludes. At one point the music was silent and all you could hear was the sound of the dancer’s feet whisking across the stage. The piece ends on a particularly playful note with one male dancer tossing another off stage. Whoosh!

    The final piece of the night (and the one that literally brought everyone to their feet in standing ovation), was Kiyon Gaines’ “Sum Stravinsky”. Let me begin by saying, “Ho…leeee….COWWWW!” With one fell swoop (and maybe a few pirouettes), Gaines masterfully secured his place in the choreographic annals of fame!

    Pacific Northwest Ballet principal dancer Carrie Imler in Kiyon Gaines’s Sum Stravinsky, presented as part of ALL PREMIERE, November 2 – 11, 2012. Photo © Angela Sterling.

    Pacific

    Gaines’ artistic eye was masterfully brought to life through the use of gorgeous partnering and impressive costumes. The supremely talented partnerships featuring Carrie Imler and Jonathan Poretta, and Maria Chapman and Karel Cruz brought a mile-wide grin to everyone’s faces. These dancers literally stole the show and left me (and I believe I speak for everyone else at McCaw Hall that night) with a desire for more. Typical ballet costumes (read: tutus and pointe shoes) in shades of powder blue and teal sparkled with new life, thanks to the talented Pauline Smith. (Chapman’s one shoulder tank style bodice was nothing short of gorgeous!) In short, Sum Stravinsky made my heart sing. It was completely, and unequivocally, awesome.

    From modern to classical, Pacific Northwest Ballet’s All Premiere offers something for every Seattle dance fan. Pacific Northwest Ballet’s “All Premiere” runs through November 10th. Tickets available at PNB.org.

  • Vala Dancewear & PNB soloist, Lindsi Dec - Pointe Magazine Exclusive

    Photo by Nathan Sayers

    Photo

    "Lindsi Dec steps out from the “Rubies” corps, lowering her arms slowly, a flash in her eyes. And then she bursts into action, her 5' 9" worth of angular beauty unfurling into head-high extensions. Darting and slinking through Balanchine’s hip-jutting steps, the Pacific Northwest Ballet soloist is having the time of her life. And so is the audience." - Pointe Magazine

    Congratulations to Pacific Northwest Ballet soloist (and Vala Dancewear model), Lindsi Dec - on her awesome feature in the October/November issue of Pointe Magazine! Read all about Lindsi, her rise to fame and her incredible work ethic here.

    {PS: On page 10, Lindsi is modeling Vala Dancewear's "Siren" in one of our new colors.   Don't miss it!}

  • Pacific Northwest Ballet's Contemporary 4 Dazzles

    The stars were shining brightly during Pacific Northwest Ballet’s opening of Contemporary 4. The evening’s mixed program featured four outstanding displays of diversity, ingenuity and beautiful creativity.

    4Cont_0145

    Pacific

    Pacific featured both men and women dressed in swooshy, flowing skirts which looked just a wee bit prettier on the men than the women. Josh Spell and Benjamin Griffiths especially worked those skirts like it was nobody’s business, and I enjoyed the overall effect the costumes had on the performance. Another duo worth mentioning is Carla Korbes and Olivier Wevers. Their pas de deux was absolutely yummy! Lucien Postlewaite was as beautiful as always. (You know something, I often find it difficult to wrap my head around this man’s softness, his vulnerability. It’s just exquisite!) Then of course, there was the perfection known as Ariana Lallone. This lady continually brings a rich, new layer of magic to every performance, and I for one will miss her presence in the seasons to come.

    The world premiere of Marco Goecke’s Place a Chill made me think, “Voguing on steroids”. That may not be the best way to describe it, but that’s immediately what came to mind. Lightening fast upper body moves were mixed with equally fast finger-flicking shivers made you wonder whether the dancers were trying to embrace—or fight off—the impending chill. It was absolutely incredible to watch! In this act, the stand-out performer award must go to both Jonathan Poretta and James Moore. Guys—you’re my heroes! Enough said.

    4Cont_0849

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    The Piano Dance, choreographed by ballet master, Paul Gibson was just…(insert Italian kiss of the finger tips here) “Bellissima!” The stunning blood red costumes were to die for; the dancing was soulful, flirty and infectiously fun. Lesley Rausch and Seth Orza made for a most mesmerizing pair (but seriously, what do you expect from these two?), while Chalnessa Eames and Josh Spell were enthusiastically coquettish and spry. (The playful booty smack was most appreciated by all in attendance.) Rounding out the splendid cast was Margaret Mullin and Jerome Tisserand, who looked like “two happy young lovers”, and the spunky Rachel Foster and Benjamin Griffiths whose performance I felt was the icing on the cake. Quite honestly, I could watch The Piano Dance over and over again, and never get bored.

    The fourth and final piece was Alexei Ratmansky’s Concerto DSCH. This highly anticipated piece did not fail to impress and delight the masses. The lighthearted romance was the perfect blend of strength and versatility due to the likes of Batkhurel Bold, Seth Orza, Karel Cruz, Carla Korbes and Carrie Imler. The male “power triangle” was counter-balanced by the softness and charm of the ladies, who could never be mistaken for shrinking violets! To the contrary, Imler's own breed of strength silently dared the boys to keep up with her, while Korbes' quiet air of authority demands utmost respect. Performance highlights include Bold’s freaking awesome lift and twirl of Mr. Orza (go ahead and read that twice, I’ll wait), and the fantastic chemistry between Cruz and Korbes.

    Contemporary 4 is one rep that is not to be missed. If you haven’t already done so, please visit pnb.org to purchase tickets. You will not be disappointed!

    ~Reviewed by Denise Opper, Vala Dancewear Media Liaison

  • A Whimsical Dye Job

    cjdldesignHave you ever wondered how much work goes into creating the perfect costume? Then check out this fun article on the eWhim blog, home of the Whim W'him Dance Company.  It chronicles Christine Joly de Lotbiniere - one of Seattle's favorite costume designers - and the dyeing process she used on the men's costumes for 'Cylindrical Shadows'. “Choosing colors can be a difficult task, it relies as much on visual processing skills as it does on personal artistic license. So much is based on appearance . . . think of color in food, how it is often used to determine the ripeness of fruit and is one of the most visible characteristics of raw and/or cured meats. I find that in costume design work, color choice and particularly chromatic contrasts is the fundamental thing that drives attention." Read this fabulous post in its entirety here.

  • PNB Dancer Profile: Lindsi Dec

    As you (may) already know, Lindsi Dec - soloist with Pacific Northwest Ballet - is one of our stunning Vala models. We're pleased to announce she's PNB's latest featured dancer on YouTube. Check out her 'Dancer Profile' video here. (PS: Check out her awesome developpes! Oh...my...goodness!)

  • Catching Up With a Star: An Interview with Laura Gilbreath

    Getting into position

    Behind

    Pacific Northwest Ballet soloist and Vala model, Laura Gilbreath is--in a word--breathtaking. Her fabulous extensions, incredible technique and striking beauty make for a rather bewitching combination! We adored her in "3 By Dove", wept over her haunting interpretation in "Afternoon Ball", and were mesmerized by her peacock variation in "Nutcracker". But what we find most intriguing however, is her stunning work ethic! This young woman's been busting her chops since she was a teenager--an attribute which led to her success with Pacific Northwest Ballet!

    Behind the scenes photos courtesy of Rachel Anne Fitzthum, Designer, Vala Dancewear

    We recently caught up with the talented dancer and asked her some of our--and your--burning questions. Here are her answers...

    Please share with our readers about how you got started in ballet.

    I guess you could say I started dancing because my mother always had such a love and appreciation for it. She danced (ballet) up until she was in high school, and so when she had two little girls, it was only natural that she expose us to this beautiful art form.  My sister is two years older than I am, and she began lessons when she was about 4. When Mama and I would go pick her up (I was 2 1/2 at the time), I would constantly be dancing around in the waiting room wanting to join the class. The teacher and my mother must have gotten sick of seeing me jump around because they let me join the creative movement class early.

    In a recent interview, you mentioned that you'd attended School of American Ballet when you were younger. Can you tell us how old you were when you accepted into their program? Was this your "dream" school at the time?

    I started going to SAB for the summer course when I was 11, and then I began attending as a year-around student when I was 15. I would definitely say this was my dream school when I was younger. Aubrey Morgan (used to dance with NYCB) and Janie Taylor (currently dances with NYCB) are from my studio and they both attended SAB. I wanted to do exactly what they did. It all sounded so amazingly wonderful and exciting. I prepared my mother early on that I would be leaving home at an early age.

    How did your family feel about such a big move?

    As I said, my mother was somewhat prepared that I would leave home early, but that did not make it any easier. Not to mention the fact that she had already let one daughter go at the age of fifteen to train in ballet as well. My sister, Elizabeth, trained at the Harid Conservatory for 2 years and then ended up attending Indiana University. Before that, she did some trainee work with Ballet Austin. She still does some dancing occasionally around New Orleans. She is a beautiful dancer. So I guess all in all everyone was very supportive of the move and happy that I was fulfilling my dreams. Daddy just wanted his little girl to be safe and to be able to visit me when he could!

    What was it like for you to live so far from home for the first time? How did you handle homesickness? (I think I'd personally have a panic attack..LOL)

    It was hard being away that young. I think I talked to Mama on the phone probably 5 times a day! At the time I felt so grown up and sophisticated, but 15 is a baby looking back on it. Mama would try to visit at least every few months and Daddy would come as often as his work schedule would allow. The good thing about being at a place like SAB is that everything is in that one building: cafeteria, dorms, studios, and there were plenty of things to do in a 10 block radius, so my mom never had to worry about me galavanting around the city. My friends and I had plenty of good, clean fun in the dorms!

    So what prompted your move to Pacific Northwest Ballet?

    I moved to Seattle after attending 2 summer courses at PNB. When you are at SAB for the winter, they encourage you to go somewhere else for the summer to experience different places. I chose PNB. My last year at SAB, I started to see that NYCB was not looking like it was going to work out for me, and, where I didn't know a lot about PNB, what I had heard and knew about the company I liked. So I became a Professional Division student in August, 2002, then I got my apprenticeship in the spring of 2003. And I've been here ever since!

    And we're so happy about that, too! So what's a typical "day in the life" like for you?

    A typical day in the life of me? Well, since we usually work until 7 pm, we don't have to start our morning warm-up ballet class until 10:15. Seems crazy to people with "normal" jobs but that extra sleep can really help when the days are long and exhausting. I get up at 8 am when we have class at 10:15. I immediately go to my dog Bonnie and let her outside to play, eat, etc. My boyfriend, Jerome (Tisserand), and I like to eat outside in the mornings if it's nice. We will usually throw the ball to Bonnie before we leave too. Then it's off to work. Class goes until 11:45 and rehearsals start at 12:05. Our lunch break is 3-4 and then rehearsals start back from 4-7. Now everyday is not this full. Some days you might have 12-1 then 4-5 and be done. It just depends on what we're  working on. Right now on Tuesday and Wednesday nights I have Spanish class through Seattle University. It's spanish 1 and they will also be offering spanish 2 and 3 consecutively. These Seattle U classes are great, and I try to take all that I can in order to slowly chip away at getting my degree one day. If I don't have some SU class (they last until 9:30), I love to come home and make dinner. Then usually a bath is in order and then it's bedtime for me by 11:00. Not too exciting, huh?!

    I think it sounds very exciting, actually! {Grins} Okay, next question. With it being the holiday season, would you mind sharing your favorite "Nutcracker" experience with us?

    I guess my favorite Nutcracker experience/memory would have to be getting to do Clara as a young girl in New Orleans. That was such a special time for me. It was my first real dancing part in point shoes, and I remember feeling so beautiful. Now, that has carried over into adulthood as I get to take on the role of Clara with PNB. Last year was my first year doing the part, and I have fallen in love with it! I love that it is not only beautiful dancing, but a wonderful chance to act as well. Clara is by far my favorite role.

    I think the same can be said for a number of "baby ballerinas"! Speaking of which, what advice would you like to share with young dancers?

    My advice would be work hard each and everyday if you have the dream and desire to dance professionally as I did, but don't miss out on your childhood. I remember afternoons when I would go over to my friend's house to jump on her trampoline after school. Somedays I would be having so much fun that I didn't want to go to ballet class. My mom would always say that was just fine and let me keep playing (until I had to come inside to do homework, of course!). But the point is, if you're serious about it definitely pursue it, but always do it because you want to and because it makes you happy. I never missed a sleepover, I just arrived really late and left really early for my Saturday morning ballet class!

    Thank you so much, Laura for taking time away from your busy schedule for us. We really appreciate it and cannot wait to see you on stage again very soon!

    To check out Laura in action, please purchase your tickets to Pacific Northwest Ballet's "Nutcracker". Visit PNB.org for more information.

  • PNB's All Tharp Is a Hit

    Pacific Northwest Ballet soloist Rachel Foster and corps de ballet dancer Kiyon Gaines in Twyla Tharp’s Opus 111, presented as part of ALL THARP, Nov. 5-14, 2010.  Photo © Angela Sterling

    Pacific

    Pacific Northwest Ballet’s All Tharp features a power-packed triple bill that not only perpetuated my fascination with the choreographic genius, Twyla Tharp but proved to be the best two hours of my day, hands-down.

    The production opened with Opus 111, a light-hearted blend of symmetry, buoyancy, and carefree charm. Carla Korbes and Batkhurel Bold made a rather striking pair, as did Lindsi Dec and Seth Orza. Korbes, with her soft feminine charm and Dec, with her precision and strength, held their own against Bold’s and Orza’s powerful “larger than life” stage presence.

    One thing that really stood out to me though was… their feet. The women wore soft ballet slippers instead of pointe shoes. This delightful twist drove home the fact that PNB is a company of “golden arches” that don’t require the likes of burlap, glue and satin to make a statement. Speaking of which, I overheard one lady comment that she had no idea a dancer could dance like that without pointe shoes. (Oh contraire, my good woman. They can!)

    Afternoon Ball was both poignant and borderline disturbing. (Think “Rocky Horror” Meets “Intervention”.) Benjamin Griffiths and Andrew Bartee delivered two of the most beautifully painful performances I’ve ever seen. Their characters left me feeling confused, rebuked and deeply saddened. Part of me wanted to jump into the fray and help them battle against their inner demons, while another part of me hoped they would be triumphant on their own. (You know, so I wouldn’t have to get my hands dirty.)

    Pacific Northwest Ballet soloist Chalnessa Eames and principal dancer Jonathan Porretta in Twyla Tharp’s Afternoon Ball, presented as part of ALL THARP, Nov. 5-14, 2010.  Photo © Angela Sterling

    Pacific

    Maria Chapman provided the raw, edgy third character in this troubled triangle. I wondered if her role was that of the “good girl gone bad” or perhaps the proverbial “monkey on the back”. In either case, her character seemed to have given herself over to this life, and was now encouraging the men to “suck it up and go with it” too. In stark contrast, Laura Gilbreath and Jerome Tisserand were the elegantly dressed ballroom couple, swirling in and out of this chaotic scene, their presence a tragic reminder of what could have been. As Griffiths’ character succumbs to his heartbreaking end, Gilbreath re-emerges as a beautiful angel of mercy, gently leading Griffiths toward heaven’s light and redemption. It was in that moment that I had to stifle the overwhelming urge to cry. What prompted such strong emotions, I can’t say for certain. However, any performance that can provoke that level of emotion is a definite winner in my book!

    The third and final act was Waterbaby Bagatelles. This funky, deliciously orchestrated piece provided the much needed emotional relief following Afternoon Ball. The cool blue lighting and the lovely “waterbabies”, dressed in pale blue bathing caps and skirted tank suits, made you feel as though you were peering into the depths of a large aquarium. Carrie Imler and Chalnessa Eames were nothing short of fabulous while their partners, Lucien Postlewaite and Kiyon Gaines served as mesmerizing pieces of eye candy. In fact, this was the first time I’d seen Gaines perform a significant role (Yes, I apparently live under a rock) and I was totally blown away. His power, his control—my goodness, where did that man come from?
    Pacific Northwest Ballet corps de ballet dancer Kylee Kitchens in Twyla Tharp’s Waterbaby Bagatelles, presented as part of ALL THARP, Nov. 5-14, 2010.  Photo © Angela Sterling

    Pacific

    The pas de deux featuring the talents of Leslie Rausch and Olivier Wevers was to die for. Their chemistry was as electric as the blue lighting hovering overhead and they were completely and utterly gorgeous. Once again, Batkhurel Bold blazed across the stage the way only he can. His entire performance was the fuel of dreams, bringing the audience to its feet when he gave his final bow. His partner, the incomparable Carrie Imler was nothing short of spectacular. Every time I see her, she brings new meaning to the word “artist”. (Love. That. Lady!)

    (One last thing… how on earth did Olivier Wevers do those incredible backwards hopping push-ups? I mean, seriously?!)

    All Tharp brings out the best in Pacific Northwest Ballet. They’re a scary-talented bunch - they know it- and if you happen to catch All Tharp this week, you’ll know it, too.

    All Tharp runs from November 5-14th. For ticket information and performance times visit PNB.org.

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