…as well as the stunning Lesley Rausch and Laura Tisserand (who debuts in the role this season), April 18-19, McCaw Hall, Seattle Center
…and Michael Jinsoo Lim’s almost unbearably-sweet violin
Carla Korbes has been ever-present throughout the repertory this season, beginning with Balanchine’s Jewels in the fall, in which she danced major roles in both Emeralds and Diamonds, to Ratmansky’s Don Quixote in winter and Swan Lake this spring. The 33-year old ballerina retires from PNB this year. This is not the only retirement – Brittany Reid retires with this season’s Swan Lake run, and there may be more – but Korbes is one of the more unexpected (see “The Great Ballerina Exit of 2015,” Dance Magazine, 2015).
To be sure, this season so far (Stowell’s Carmina Burana remains to be presented), has had many, many memorable performances.
Angelica Generosa (ebullient in the jazzy Rubies, dramatic in Annabelle Lopez Ochoa’s haunting Before After) and Jahna Frantziskonis (stunning in two pas de deux in Forsythe’s New Suite) have been featured this season, as well as newly-promoted soloists Leta Biasucci, Margaret Mullin, and Elizabeth Murphy. In recent years, I’ve written about Chelsea Adomaitis (rightfully featured, too), Jahna Frantziskonis, Leta Biasucci. Others have written about Angelica Generosa and Elizabeth Murphy. All of this coverage is well deserved, as affirmed by critical reviews. These dancers are utterly reliable. They each have performance qualities that invite in the audience.
Lindsi Dec was glorious this season. She was delightful in Jewels and elegant in Justin Peck’s Debonair and David Dawson’s A Million Kisses to my Skin. In Don Q, she was a feisty Mercedes. In all that she danced, she brought a strong theatricality.
Lesley Rausch, was perfectly placed in all her moves this season – from Forsythe’s In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated to Swan Lake. This graceful dancer exuded vulnerability, purpose. Carrie Imler, was indomitable in The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude, but needed to be seen more (a partner injury prevented her from dancing Swan Lake). Laura Tisserand was indeed a shining star, from her wondrous rhythmic sense in Rubies to her delicate-but-technical Odette/Odille in Swan Lake. She is the one to beat in balances, easily commanding her center of mass. For all, Whether in Forsythe or Ratmansky, these ballerinas danced with their hearts and minds.
The men also danced with aplomb, Jonathan Porretta (although the great Leta Biasucci even matched his energy in daring displays in Rubies). As Gamache in Don Q, he is an unparalleled comic; in Forsythe’s Vertiginous Thrill, he is a thrilling dancer, with extreme yet classical moves). Batkhurel Bold was a flawless partner for Korbes in Diamonds and in Don Q — attentive, steadfast, and able to show bravura moves with little fanfare. Laura Tisserand, in Swan Lake, also enjoyed his partnering.
Other men performed just as bravely. Karel Cruz, was a striking Espada in Don Q. Jerome Tisserand was a strong partner for Dec in Forsythe’s New Suite, and utterly flexible in his own right. Seth Orza, delivered beautifully-nuanced performances in all he did, especially obvious in In the Middle. For Benjamin Griffiths, there are just three words – technical, techincal, technical. He bursts with energy, yet moderates it with control – whether it be in Forsythe, or as the jester in Swan Lake.
Still, every now and then, a dancer comes along who turns heads. Korbes blurs lines between ballet character and her own persona. Is Korbes convincing? Yes. Technical? Yes. But she also is intense. And passionate. With each performance this season coming closer to her planned retirement, she duly earned all the accolades she received in the press. Hailed as “one of the country’s finest Balanchine stylists” (Alastair Macaulay, New York Times, 2009), she also is the audience’s darling, in part, because she has a strikingly intimate manner with said audience. I’m not quite sure how it is going to let her go. With the Encore program in June in Seattle, we will see.
(c) Angela Sterling/Carla Korbes in Diamonds