Last year’s School of American Ballet Workshop performances marked two milestones: Suki Schorer’s 50th anniversary as a teacher, and Kay Mazzo’s retirement from the Chair of Faculty position after 40 years. The program was audacious (especially coming out of Covid), with a commissioned world premiere and the staging of the epic finale from Balanchine’s “Symphony in C.” Electricity was in the air. This year, prudently, was about rebuilding. The atmosphere was all gentle breezes. The bill included four excerpts that harked back to the early history of the school, two of which—“Coppélia” and “Napoli”—commemorated the 25th anniversary of the passing of two celebrated teachers appointed by Balanchine, Alexandra Danilova and Stanley Williams. There were reams of tulle, pretty passés, and turns ending in tight fifth positions on display. There was no sight of Balanchine’s abstract, angular side. Though the evening was less zingy than usual, it was smart of Darla Hoover and Aesha Ash, in their freshman year as Chair and Co-Chair of Faculty, respectively, to stress roots and continuity.
One way to get to know the history of a company is through the “liner notes” of its “Swan Lake” production, and for those of us continuing to build an admiring familiarity with Pacific Northwest Ballet via its digital season offerings, Kent Stowell and Francia Russell’s “Swan Lake” provides an interesting glimpse into PNB prior to Peter Boal’s leadership.FREE ARTICLE