Review: 3 by Dove

PNB shows its wild side in this steamy performance of the late choreographer’s work.

March 24, 2010

Holy muscles: PNB principals Ariana Lallone and Olivier Wevers dance Red Angels. Photo courtesy Angela Sterling.

Pacific Northwest Ballet’s decision to showcase three pieces by the late Ulysses Dove—one of last century’s most innovative contemporary choreographers—should be motivation enough to get you to McCaw Hall. If not, here are three more reasons to see 3 by Dove before it closes on March 28:

1. Serious Pleasures. The PNB premiere of Dove’s 1992 work is billed as a steamy romp through the “merciless battle between spirit and flesh.” A predatory game of tag takes place onstage, as four female and five male dancers move wildly through sexually charged solos and pas de deux. Each courtship is riveting, pulsating with passion and tension. Though the piece is discomfiting at times (this show is not for kids), it never fails to provoke a reaction.

2. The score from Red Angels. The evening’s only live music comes courtesy of Mary Rowell, whose rollicking electric violin solo carries four dancers—Ariana Lallone, Olivier Wevers, Lesley Rausch, and Lucien Postlewaite on opening night—through a long-limbed show of athleticism. The frantic score sends them lunging across the stage, twisting, leaping, seeming to hang in midair. It’s as maddening as it is thrilling—and it starts with a tempo set by Rowell, who turns out one of the program’s best performances.

3. Dove signals more good things to come. Since artistic director Peter Boal joined the PNB in 2005, the company has increasingly broken away from its classical mold; and 3 by Dove proves the company is fully capable of performing contemporary repertoire with the same aplomb as the traditional ballets. The program is daring, and at times downright hot. Moreover, it challenges the audience with less-than-fairy-tale topics—sex, AIDS, religion. Given the audience’s enthusiastic ovation, it seems Seattle welcomes the fresh approach.

PNB’s 3 by Dove is in its final weekend. Tickets are $25-$160, Thursday through Sunday, at McCaw Hall.

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