Pacific Northwest Ballet (PNB) company dancers (with The Tudor Choir and Pacific Lutheran University Choral Union) in Kent Stowell’s “Carmina Burana.” PNB presents “Carmina Burana” (featuring Ming Cho Lee’s scenic design) on a double-bill with Alexei Ratmansky’s “Concerto DSCH,” through Sunday, June 7. Photo by Angela Sterling
Pacific Northwest Ballet (PNB) company dancers (with The Tudor Choir and Pacific Lutheran University Choral Union) in Kent Stowell’s “Carmina Burana.” PNB presents “Carmina Burana” (featuring Ming Cho Lee’s scenic design) on a double-bill with Alexei Ratmansky’s “Concerto DSCH,” through Sunday, June 7. Photo by Angela Sterling

Get a high-voltage jolt of primal passion and unexpected whimsy from “Carmina Burana,” Pacific Northwest Ballet’s current program of two repertory works and an orchestral prelude.

The performance opened with an orchestral prelude of Copeland’s “Hoe-Down” from “Rodeo.” Played with elan by the Pacific Northwest Ballet Orchestra under the baton of Emil de Cou, the piece set the mood for the exuberant works to follow.

Alexei Ratmansky’s high-spirited “Concerto DSCH” is packed with whimsicality and unexpected dance moves set in sparkling motion by the score of Shostakovich’s “Concerto No. 2 in F Major,” this time conducted by Allan Dameron, with a piano solo by Christina Siemens.

Although there is no real storyline, the piece playfully suggests the passion, jealousy, competitiveness and more among friends, lovers and even co-workers. The rapid changeability of allegiances as a dancer suddenly chooses a new partner, ignoring her or his previous partner, was reminiscent of what it was like to be a 20-something, continually trying on relationships for size.

Ratmansky has choreographed some delightful moves that can’t help but make you smile, like dancers levitating in joyful hops or the persistent wild swing of an arm by an angry Carla Körbes attempting to deck Karel Cruz after a misunderstanding. Plus, as the program notes mention, there are a few Broadway musical-influenced steps redolent of Jerome Robbins.

I don’t think Körbes has ever been as feather-light as she was on opening night in her pairing with Cruz as the main couple who meet, flirt and playfully test one another. There were some lovely languorous moments and effortless gracefulness between the two that were a sheer pleasure to watch.

Carrie Imler, Seth Orza and Jerome Tisserand danced with uninhibited joy in a trinity that upends traditional dance roles, with the woman supporting the men in lifts and the men heftily showcased in leaps and spins. The accomplished dancing and emotional expressiveness of the work extended to the company’s talented corps de ballet.

“Carmina Burana” is a big, bold, dramatic work utilizing 32 dancers, 73 singers in monks’ robes and a full pit orchestra beneath Ming Cho Lee’s massive golden Wheel of Fortune. Choreographed by the company’s founding artistic director, Kent Stowell, to Carl Orff’s renowned musical cantata, the text of which is drawn from irreverent medieval poems and songs, “Carmina Burana” delves into the profanity and sacredness of lust and love.

This is a work that allows the men to show off skills beyond being lift support for the women, especially in the opening movement, “Fortuna Imperatrix Mundi.” Two standouts to watch from the male corps are Kyle Davis and Matthew Renko.

In “Primo Vere,” Leta Biasuaci replaced Rachel Foster as the peasant girl, pairing with Benjamin Griffiths to enchanting effect. The duo was radiant as a sunlit day.

Lindsi Dec was one hot tamale, stunning as always, heading up the group provoking a monk to succumb to temptation in “In Taberna.”

In “Cour d’Amour,” Maria Chapman and Karel Cruz were the picture of romantic love, dancing with nuanced power and solicitous lyricism.

Last, but definitely not least, was the imposing primal vocal surroundings created by The Tudor Choir and Pacific Lutheran University Choral Union, together with soloists Marcus Shelton, Christina Siemens and Weston Hurt. Emil de Cou and his orchestra deftly helped establish this elemental musical world without overpowering the singers.

Pacific Northwest Ballet’s “Carmina Burana” performs at Marion Oliver McCaw Hall (321 Mercer St.), through Sunday, June 7. For tickets or information, call (206) 441-2424 or visit www.pnb.org.

 

 

MAGGIE LARRICK is former editor of the Queen Anne & Magnolia News. To comment on this review, write to QAMagNews@nwlink.com.