Seattle’s dance community let out a collective groan last week when PNB principal Lucien Postlewaite announced that this his final season with the ballet. In August he’ll leave Seattle to join Les Ballets de Monte Carlo, home of director-choreographer Jean-Christophe Maillot, who worked with Postlewaite on a life-changing production of Roméo et Juliette in 2008. We’ve come to rely on Postlewaite to turn in emotionally charged, technically dazzling performances like clockwork, whether as a Balanchine prince or in a daring new modern commission. After nine years on stage at McCaw Hall—and two years dancing in husband Olivier Wevers’s company, Whim W’Him—his absence will be felt.
For now, Postlewaite is prepping for PNB’s double bill of Apollo and Carmina Burana, which opens on Friday (April 13), and his grande finale, June 10’s Season Encore. For our latest Fiendish Conversation, Seth Sommerfeld chatted with the dancer, who insists that this isn’t goodbye.
What roles are you dancing in Apollo and Carmina Burana?
I’m dancing Apollo, so that’s a highlight for me. In Carmina Burana, I’m dancing the Cour d’Amours, the sort of lead finale section. That’s a role I used to watch when I first joined the company and the dancers would give me chills every time. Now I’m kind of coming full circle and getting to dance this role that, when I got into the company nine years ago, I always dreamed of dancing.
How did you end up deciding to take a job with Les Ballets de Monte Carlo?
It just felt like the timing was right. Everything in my life was kind of pointing in this direction. I need a chance to reinvent myself artistically and to push myself. I have a relationship with the company over there and they were looking for dancers like me, so, of course, being wanted by another place and being asked to join is always a bit of an incentive. I’m ready for the next adventure.
What are the stylistic differences between Les Ballets de Monte Carlo and PNB that get you excited?
The director there, we mostly do his work. He’s a choreographer-director. I’m looking forward to that, because having a choreographer-director gives a really strong, clear vision for everyone and the look of a company. I’ve been really fortunate at PNB to dance all different kinds of roles—that’s one of the benefits of having a non-choreographer-director. [PNB] director Peter Boal brings in all different types of things. But I’m looking forward to having just a single, unified voice and learning how to work and dance in his style.
What is your most memorable performance during your time at PNB?
Because it’s kind of what has led me to this decision, I would say Roméo et Juliette. When we performed that, it really changed the way I danced. It changed the way I look at dance. It gave me a way to completely express every range of my emotion on stage.
You’ve also danced extensively with Whim W’Him. Do you plan to come back to dance with the company in the future?
Yeah, I’m working on that. It’s going to be a challenge to coordinate, but the director [at Monte Carlo] is trying to be flexible with letting me potentially come do some stuff with PNB as well.
Are there any up-and-coming Seattle dancers we should keep an eye on?
Andrew Bartee. He is a dancer at PNB, but also dances for Whim W’Him. He’s young—I think he’s been in the company a few years—and has an amazing maturity as an artist for his age.
What will you miss most about Seattle?
Well, everything. I’m not planning really on missing it too much though because I still feel like I will be connected to the city and I’m going to be coming back quite often. …[I’ll miss] the summers—not the winters.
Apollo and Carmina Burana
Apr 13–22, McCaw Hall, $28–$168