There were some marvelous highs about the PNB’s latest production, Love Stories.
Swan Lake and Romeo and Juliette are two of the safer bets in the industry but that does not mean anybody should take things for granted.
With new conductor Emil de Cou at the helm of the orchestra, Lucien Postlewaite dashed, dashingly, around the stage with Carrie Imler gracefully at his side.
Imler dressed as the Black Swan was just the right combination between enticement and innocence. Postlewaite bore as grandiose a costume as has been seen for a while.
It was a strong rescuer after the opening Divertimento from “Le Baiser de la Fée” failed to warm the audience up.
However the general trend that each piece to entertain more than the previous continued with the astonishingly sensual Afternoon of a Faun.
That the stunningly sexy Kylee Kitchens and (I am assured) equally sexy Jerome Tisserand told a story through dance was unequivocally accepted.
But we argued over what story. The morning after two young people had ‘hooked up’ when they were trying to get to know each other beyond the passion? An artist painting his model in studio and getting to know her in every possible way? Two pen pals enjoying their first moments of physical companionship?
Debussy’s music was based on an original poem by French poet and critic Étienne Mallarmé which describes a faun’s encounter with nymphs. In choreographer Jerome Robbins’ hands, it became much more.
He caught the piece with the accuracy of wayward arrow intercepting a shooting star at 45 degrees.
Lastly a huge applaud should go to Irene Sharaff. Ms Kitchen’s design gave her enough room for self expression and added to, without constraining, her own interpretation of the role.
One thing is sure, Ms Kitchens has set down a marker for her future performances at the PNB. A native of Laguna Hills, CA, she has been with the Corps since 2000. She trained at Westside School of Ballet, where she studied with Yvonne Mounsey and Rosemary Valaire, and on scholarship at Pacific Northwest Ballet School.
Although I have seen her before, for me this will stand as her coming out performance, where she rose from the pack to the uppermost tier of PN ballerinas.
After Faun, came Romeo and Juliette, guaranteed to produce tears from both emotional ladies and the dons of large mafia organisations alike.
Postlewaite was back on the stage on what was rapidly becoming ‘his show’. Performing the Balcony pas de deux, they kept the audience where they had been previously placed, in the palm of the dancer’s hands.
His partner, Kaori Nakamura, has grown into a role as audience favourite and eminently reliable to excel in whatever role they ask of her.
“Faun” and “Romeo” fell between two intermissions and may well have provided the best individual segment seen for a while.
The night ended with Sleeping Beauty’s Aurora’s Wedding.
SFAE favourite Lesley Rausch danced the role of Princess Aurora alongside Batkhurel Bold as Prince Florimund.
Some new faces also starred, Mayim Stiller as King Florestan and Emma Tilson as his Queen. Both are PNB School Professional Division students, as is Madeline DeVries who took the role of the Lilac Fairy of Wisdom.
With the sheer volume of activity on a full stage, this was a fitting and enjoyable finish to a very well put together show.
The costume department had a fine night, new faces shone, tears ran in the audience, and “Love Stories” provided us with fond memories of the PNB’s artisitc abilities before they deviate into the seasonal chaos of the Nutcracker.