Pacific Northwest Ballet’s “Boundless” program featured choreographers Alejandro Cerrudo, Jessica Lang, and Penny Saunders. This review is of a film made opening night, March 17, 2023.
In Penny Saunders’ Wonderland, Michael Wall supplies original music and adapts others. Divided into five sections, we hear strains of Jean-Philippe Goude, Hugues Le Bars, Erik Satie, Camille Saint-Saëns, and Stephen Foster—uplifting, driving, light, melancholic. Couples Elle Macy and Dylan Wald and Christopher D’Ariano and Genevieve Waldorf dance to a dynamic score set to the wildly creative lighting of designer Trad A Burns. The dim lighting, spotlights, tracking of dancers to beyond the proscenium stage‚ much in black and white motif—make for a fascinating production.
The world premiere of Black on Black on Black by Alejandro Cerrudo also played with light, in the design by Michael Korsch. Supporting the percussive, high energy dance: A music medly of “Opening” by Oliver Coates (from The Stranger film); “East London Street” (Hidden Orchestra from the album East London Street); “Mariupol” by Natalia Tsupryk (from the album Mariupol); “Mood in A” by Parra (for Cuva from the album Mood in C); and, “Demon Host” by Timber Timbre (from its Timber Timbre album). Cerrudo’s ballet plays with images against its own music and light—sometimes in total darkness, as with an eerie line of limbs moving, upstage, downstage. The ensemble provides the atmosphere, but the dancing shines bright with couples such as Angelica Generosa and James Kirby Roger. Sinewy and gorgeous, they seem to feel the music, speaking in one breathless conversation.
Jessica Lang’s Let Me Mingle Tears with Thee, also a world premiere, featured the emotional music of Giovanni Battista Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater and the vocals of soprano Christina Siemens and alto singer Sarra Sharif Doyle. Lang’s piece is a story ballet, with striking scenic and colorful costume design by Jillian Lewis. Characterized by an easy flow of movement, almost swinging into steps, and beautiful partnering in duets, trios, and more, the dancers display a singular weight in their lightness, and lightness in the most solemn of poses. The spry Christopher D’Ariano and elegant Elizabeth Murphy come to mind. D’Ariano, dancing also with Leah Terada, spits out the clearest quick movement, as well as embraces it—in the ballet’s tender moments.
Standouts for me: Elizabeth Murphy creates a modern contemporary soliloquy to the sensitive Satie solo of Christina Siemens; Elle Macy dances with both cool and passion, as does Dylan Wald. A women’s trio, Madison Ryan Abeo, Cecilia Ilieisu, and Yuki Takahashi, move as one together, expanding, contracting, in one poetic story. Others dance in shadow. The black and white play highlights the exquisite dancing of Lucien Postlewaite and so many of the ensemble. James Moore and Angelica Generosa, too, show absolute control, especially in their drops of weight. This is movement perfectly suited to Moore’s expressive abilities. True, too for the duet with Miles Pertl—both stylish technicians. Kudos to the entire ensemble in delivering Lang’s poignant lamentation.