PNB finishes three-week festival

Pacific Northwest Ballet's grand experiment in a dance festival ended Sunday. The buzz in the lobby Saturday night seemed in accord that it was a great idea that everyone would like to see become an annual event - although it might be nice to see dancers costumed in something other than wrinkling white underwear ("Locate" and "Spanish Dance") or flesh-color unitards ("Adin"). Maybe a "Project Runway" project to dress modern dance in something that doesn't look as if it were underwritten by Fruit of the Loom?

The two highlights of Saturday night were Christopher Stowell's "Adin," danced by Oregon Ballet Theatre, and Paul Gibson's "Sense of Doubt," danced by Pacific Northwest Ballet. The former proved that Stowell is rapidly raising the professional quality of OBT, and dance trips to Portland would be a good idea. And maybe a regular guest spot at PNB once a year or so? Just for the Seattle crowd who want to see what the next generation is doing; Stowell is the son of PNB's founding artistic directors Kent Stowell and Francia Russell.

Although symphonic concerts of Philip Glass can be trying to those who don't swoon over his repetitive beats, his strong cinematic music made a great foundation for Gibson's choreography in "Sense of Doubt." Gibson's entire piece had a lovely noir feeling of intrigue and deception - with appropriately titled Glass music like "Secret Agent" and "Blood on the Stairs." Mark Zappone's choice of black for the costumes gave the dancers a slightly sinister elegance (although the men still appeared to be dressed in a variation of bicycle exercise shorts).

Carla K├Ârbes and Casey Herd opened with a terrific pas de deux; both seem stronger and stronger in every pairing this season. Noelani Pantastico was her usual fantastico self, leaping with gravity-defying ease across long stretches of stage.

Gibson obviously loves his dancers, finding ways to highlight the strengths of his entire small cast: Mara Vinson, Benjamin Griffiths, James Moore, Jodie Thomas, Rachel Foster, Lucien Postlewaite and Josh Spell.

Next up for PNB is an all-Stravinsky program opening on May 31.

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