Review: Christopher Wheeldon Creates a Memorable Realm

Christopher Wheeldon’s new work for Pacific Northwest Ballet is known as “Curious Kingdom.” Since the music is all French, the title would possibly consult with France, although it’s been a very long time since that nation had a king. Or maybe the alliterative phrase and its “Alice in Wonderland” adjective allude to modern ballet.

Whatever the title means, what issues is that Wheeldon has created a distinct and memorable realm. That can’t be stated for the opposite premiere on Pacific Northwest’s newest digital program (accessible till Monday on the corporate web site): Edwaard Liang’s “The Veil Between Worlds.”

“Curious Kingdom” is appropriately stylish. The tops of unitards by Harriet Jung and Reid Bartelme are cleverly shaded to look just like the bodices of strapless attire. As the music progresses from piano items by Satie and Ravel to songs of Edith Piaf, the dancers decorate with mesh overlays, quick or elbow-length gloves, tulle skirts, large bows in rose. In Reed Nakayama’s lighting design, the stage ground gleams like a reflective pool, backed by a succession of single hues: gold, inexperienced, blue, purple.

Elegantly dressed, Wheeldon’s choreography, largely solos and duets, maintains a glamorous languor and achieves moments of beautiful magnificence. Satie’s “Gnossiennes” join the work to the poetic purity of Frederick Ashton’s “Monotones,” a hyperlink it earns with lengthy traces that abruptly break. One duet is a marvel of interlocking flamingo shapes. Others are extra mirrorlike, taking a cue from the music, a few of which is drawn from Ravel’s suite “Miroirs.” To all this, the Piaf sections add a little shade and cabaret. The wonderful Lucien Postlewaite, a type of faun in his opening solo, ends with a fashionable suggestion of drag.

Leta Biasucci and Lucien Postlewaite in Edwaard Liang’s “The Veil Between Worlds.”Credit…Lindsay Thomas

Liang’s “Veil,” against this, is characterless. The music, a new composition by Oliver Davis, seems like a paint-by-numbers modern ballet rating, and Liang’s neoclassical choreography seems like one thing that any expert dancemaker might need created in the previous few many years. There is a literal veil — a large piece of silk tossed like a parachute or the handkerchief of a big magician. But nothing within the gentle and innocent choreography works any magic.

Still, the dancers — particularly Dylan Wald, who additionally shines within the Wheeldon, and Jerome and Laura Tisserand, who’re about to depart the corporate — look good and joyful in it. And that additionally issues.

Among American troupes, Pacific Northwest has been one of the vital profitable in changing to digital programming, maintaining its dancers lively and its viewers engaged. Its newest providing is attribute: handsomely filmed and full of additional options, together with music-only alternatives by the corporate’s first-class musicians. Apart from “Curious Kingdom,” the season’s new works have struck me as unexceptional, however as somebody who lives removed from Seattle, I’ve been grateful for the prospect to see these dancers and get to know them a little.

In a program be aware, Peter Boal, the creative director, boasts that the digital season has attracted subscribers in 50 states and 36 nations. “We will not turn our back on you,” he writes, promising not solely that the corporate will return to stay efficiency within the fall but additionally that its digital programming will proceed. Both elements are excellent news.

Pacific Northwest Ballet, Program 6

Through Monday, pnb.org