Running till April 21 at McCaw Hall is Pacific Northwest Ballet’s (PNB) iconic ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’. Tailored specifically for the region of Pacific Northwest and the first full-length ballet choreographed by George Balanchine, this ballet is a perfect way for families in the Washington state to enter into Pacific Northwest’s springtime.
This ballet of only an hour and forty minutes gives a precise but concise rendition of Shakespeare’s famous comedy, ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’. Romance, mischief and fairies abound, and we follow the journey of King Oberon and Queen Titania into the deep forest of the Pacific Northwest. In the forest, the King and Queen are quarrelling over who gets to have the changeling; mischief-maker Puck now enters, and creates more mayhem, when he mistakenly matches two couples. However, all is well when the mistakes are corrected by a little more magic, and they all join the wedding celebration of Hippolyta and Theseus.
Opening night had principal dancer Laura Tisserand step into the elegant role of Titania and soloist Kyle Davis into the role of Oberon. Dressed in the new Titania costume made by PNB’s very own costume shop, Tisserand twirls around the stage as if a blooming flower. Her elegance blooms and shines on stage, and her partner Davis once again dominates the stage with his quick and precise footworks. Martin Pakledinaz, the costume and scenic designer of this ballet, studied and researched the nature of Pacific Northwest, when he first designed for this ballet, so the set and costumes all reflect on the flowers or small animals that we are all so used to seeing right here at home.
But other than the brilliance of the costume, the set, and the King and Queen, we go see this ballet for a chance to see the soon retiring principal dancer Jonathan Porretta become Puck, to see one of the most beautiful pas de deux of all time in Act II, to see the ultra-fierce Amazon Queen Hippolyta leaping and jumping across the stage, and to hear Mendelssohn’s famous Wedding March. Known for his characterization, Porretta graced the stage as the mischief-maker on opening night, and once again invited all audience members to taste the ultimate joy of dance that only a few could offer. Throughout the night, our eyes were glued to his every step, whether it be a mischievous one or an obedient one, and no one could escape laughing out loud. He carried the spirit of the character everywhere he appeared on stage, and we could only hope that Puck dances even more than he already is.
Act I has most of the storytelling done, so it is full of plot points and drama, and this version of ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ is indeed a ballet with the lavish style of a drama or play. For frequent ballet-goers or first-timers alike, this ballet is one that charms one immediately but does not require too deep an understanding of ballet or modern dance. A ballet for all ages, ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ ticks all the boxes of story, drama and classical ballet.
In Act II, the Divertissement pas de deux is perhaps one of the most delicate and beautiful pas de deux audiences will ever see. Principal dancers and frequent partners Jerome Tisserand and Lesley Rausch danced around the stage like real fairies, and they literally stole our breaths away on opening night. We sighed, when it ended, not because it was not great, but because we wished it could have gone on forever.
PNB’s ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ is truly a ballet for everyone; it feels like the gentle breeze in the springtime, it looks like the many blooming flowers we see on the sidewalks, and it sounds like many fairies celebrating joy and happiness. A perfect show for a family outing, this ballet is sure to have you leave McCaw Hall smiling and looking out for those fairies that dance around us.
PNB has five more shows of ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ this week, for tickets or more information, please visit https://www.pnb.org/season/midsummer/