Pacific Northwest Ballet presents an All-Wheeldon programme

August 15, 2011

Press Releases

PACIFIC NORTHWEST BALLET PRESENTS A Showcase of Works by Choreographer Christopher Wheeldon

September 23-October 2, 2011

Marion Oliver McCaw Hall

321 Mercer Street, Seattle Center

Seattle, WA 98109

September 23-24 at 7:30 pm

September 24 at 2:00 pm

September 29-October 1 at 7:30 pm

October 2 at 1:00 pm

SEATTLE, WA — Pacific Northwest Ballet opens its 2011-2012 season with ALL WHEELDON, four works that confirm the scope of rising ballet star Christopher Wheeldon’s prodigious talent as well as his artistic influences. An all-dance synopsis of the famous musical, Carousel (A Dance) pays homage to composer Richard Rodgers, and to Jerome Robbins’ love of Broadway. A large ensemble cast rotates around the ill-fated lovers, who reach for each other in a tender duet. Another study of intimacy unfolds in After the Rain pas de deux, the couple’s tangible physicality acting as metaphor for deeply nuanced emotion.  Sleek and technical, Polyphonia‘s cool abstraction suggests George Balanchine’s influence, especially the pure lines of its centerpiece, a sinuously sustained duet. In Variations Sérieuses, Ian Falconer’s (author/illustrator of the Olivia series) ingenious set design turns comedic tables on ballet—both literally and figuratively—by offering the audience a view from the wings. The interplay of an hysterical and hilarious cast of characters, on and offstage, evokes Wheeldon’s unerring instinct for entertainment.  

In conjunction with ALL WHEELDON, PNB is pleased to present Christopher Wheeldon On Stage for a special presentation on Wednesday, September 21.  For more information, see “Tickets, Discount Offers and Special Events” below.

ALL WHEELDON runs September 23 through October 2 at Seattle Center’s Marion Oliver McCaw Hall. Tickets start at $28 and may be purchased by calling 206.441.2424, online or in person at the PNB Box Office, 301 Mercer St. Pacific Northwest Ballet thanks ALL WHEELDON supporting sponsor Wells Fargo.

The line-up for ALL WHEELDON will include:

Carousel (A Dance)©

Music: Richard Rodgers (“Carousel Waltz” and “If I Loved You” from Carousel, 1945), arranged and orchestrated by William David Brohn
Choreography: Christopher Wheeldon
Staging: Damian Smith and Jackie Barrett
Costume Design: Holly Hynes
Lighting Design: Mark Stanley
Running time: 15 minutes
Premiere: November 26, 2002; New York City Ballet
Pacific Northwest Ballet Premiere: March 12, 2009 (Broadway Festival)

The musical Carousel, with music by Richard Rodgers and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II, premiered in 1945. The show won acclaim for its many hit musical numbers and for its innovative plot about the ill-fated marriage of young millworker Julie Jordan and carnival barker Billy Bigelow. Christopher Wheeldon’s salute to Rodgers includes the composer’s melodic and evocative “Carousel Waltz” and “If I Loved You” in a reverie that distills Carousel‘s carnival atmosphere as well as its theme of tragic romance. A large corps de ballet creates a stylized carousel on stage, their movements often separating the lovers. With a simple hint at the story, Wheeldon catches the sweep and emotion of the music and the poignant, doomed nature of the lead couple’s relationship with a tender and romantic pas de deux.
After the Rain pas de deux©
Music: Arvo Pärt (Spiegel im Spiegel, 1978)
Choreography: Christopher Wheeldon
Staging: Damian Smith
Costume Design: Holly Hynes
Lighting Design: Mark Stanley
Running time: 8 minutes
Premiere: January 22, 2005; New York City Ballet
Pacific Northwest Ballet Premiere: September 20, 2008

Christopher Wheeldon’s pas de deux from After the Rain is the second half of a two-part work, the first of which features an ensemble of three couples dancing to Arvo Pärt’s Tabula Rasa. The following pas de deux is performed to Pärt’s spare and tender duet for piano and violin, Spiegel im Spiegel. The ballerina is dressed in pink and her partner is bare-chested. In a series of unfolding partnering movements, the dancers explore the shifting emotions of their relationship.
Music: György Ligeti (various works for piano, 1947–1985)
Choreography: Christopher Wheeldon
Staging: Jason Fowler
Costume Design: Holly Hynes
Lighting Design: Mark Stanley
Running time: 31 minutes
Premiere: January 4, 2001; New York City Ballet
Pacific Northwest Ballet Premiere: March 15, 2007

“Romantic with comic twists” is how Christopher Wheeldon describes his ballet, Polyphonia (meaning “many voices”), set to ten eclectic piano pieces by György Ligeti. Overhead horizontal lifts, rolls and pushes off the floor contrast with classical ballet steps. The first of two key duets for the leading principal couple evokes sea creatures swimming, while the second looks like a strange plant growing and closing in on itself. The last horizontal lifts and fade-out arrest the movement, frame it, and let it dissolve like a film.  Polyphonia was the first ballet by Christopher Wheeldon to be taken into Pacific Northwest Ballet’s repertory.
Variations Sérieuses©
Music: Based on the music of Felix Mendelssohn (Op. 54, 1841), adapted and orchestrated by Mack Schlefer
Choreography: Christopher Wheeldon
Staging: Jason Fowler
Scenic and Costume Design: Ian Falconer
Lighting Design: Mark Stanley
Running time: 25 minutes
Premiere: May 10, 2001; New York City Ballet
Pacific Northwest Ballet Premiere: April 17, 2008 (Laugh Out Loud! Festival)

Felix Mendelssohn (1809–1847) was a German composer of the Romantic era. Like Mozart, he was a child prodigy who excelled in every aspect of music. He was one of the finest pianists of his time, as well as an excellent conductor and well-known educator. His Variations Sérieuses is one of the great masterpieces of Romantic piano music.


Christopher Wheeldon is considered one of the leading ballet choreographers in the world today. He was born in Somerset, England, and trained at the Royal Ballet School, eventually becoming a Royal Ballet company member. Mr. Wheeldon danced with New York City Ballet from 1993 to 2000, when he created Polyphonia and Variations Sérieuses and became New York City Ballet’s first artist-in-residence. He served as the company’s resident choreographer from 2001-2008, creating Morphoses, Carousel (A Dance), Carnival of the Animals, After the Rain, An American in Paris, and The Nightingale and the Rose, among others.

In 2007, Mr. Wheeldon founded Morphoses/The Wheeldon Company, a transatlantic company with a base at New York’s City Center and at Sadler’s Wells Theatre, London. The new company set out to introduce a spirit of innovation to classical ballet, performing in Vail, London and New York during its first season. Mr. Wheeldon choreographed several new works for the company, including Fools’ Paradise (2007) and Prokofiev pas de deux (2007), and received commissions by celebrated ballet companies internationally. In 2010, Morphoses announced a new artistic model and Mr. Wheeldon stepped down as its artistic director to concentrate all his energy on choreography. In 2010, he created a new Sleeping Beauty for Royal Danish Ballet, and in February 2011, the Royal Ballet staged its world premiere of Mr. Wheeldon’s new full-length Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

Outside of the ballet world, Mr. Wheeldon choreographed Tears of St Lawrence (2009), a joint creation with singer-songwriter Martha Wainwright for New York City Parks Foundation, Dance of the Hours for The Metropolitan Opera’s production of Ponchielli’s La Gioconda (2006), ballet sequences for the film Center Stage (2000), and Broadway’s Sweet Smell of Success.

Jackie Barrett (Stager, Carousel) trained at the Royal Ballet Lower and Upper Schools, joined London Festival Ballet (now English National Ballet) and over a period of eight years danced soloist and principal roles in the company’s repertory. Ms. Barrett then joined Central School of Ballet as ballet mistress and also worked in this capacity for Northern Ballet Theatre and English National Ballet. From 1997 to 2008, Ms. Barrett taught at the Royal Ballet School, working mainly with the graduate female class. A highly experienced instructor at all levels, she now enjoys a busy freelance career teaching with companies such as the Royal Ballet, Birmingham Royal Ballet, and Rambert Dance Company, as well as schools in Europe, Australia, and Japan.

Damian Smith (Stager, Carousel, After the Rain) trained in Sydney, Australia and at the School of American Ballet. After dancing with Ballet du Nord, he joined San Francisco Ballet in 1996 and was promoted to principal dancer in 2001. He has danced leading roles in Lubovitch’s Othello; Tomasson’s Romeo and Juliet, Giselle, and Swan Lake; and Morris’ Sylvia, and created roles in Tomasson’s The Fifth Season, Chi-Lin, and Silver Ladders; Christopher Stowell’s Opus 50; and Wheeldon’s Sea Pictures, Rush, Continuum, and Quaternary, among others. In 2000, Mr. Smith received the Isadora Duncan Dance Award for group performance.

Jason Fowler (Stager, Polyphonia, Variations Sérieuses) began his ballet training in Dallas, Texas, at the Dallas Ballet Academy under the direction of Vivi Flindt and the School of American Ballet where he studied under Stanley Williams and Adam Lüders. He became an apprentice with New York City Ballet in 1995, joined the corps de ballet in 1996, and was promoted to soloist in 2005. In addition to his numerous corps de ballet roles, Mr. Fowler performed soloist, featured, and principal roles in works by George Balanchine, Mauro Bigonzetti, Boris Eifman, Peter Martins, Jerome Robbins, Susan Stroman, and Christopher Wheeldon. Mr. Fowler has taught master classes and workshops in Dallas and Saratoga Springs and choreographed several ballets for Dallas Ballet Company. He appeared in the movie Center Stage, dancing in the ballet sequences choreographed by Mr. Wheeldon. He was ballet master for Morphoses/The Wheeldon Ballet and is currently staging ballets as répétiteur for Christopher Wheeldon. These ballets have been set in Spain, Germany, and for several ballet companies in the United States. He is also a répétiteur for Benjamin Millepied.

Ian Falconer (Designer, Variations Sérieuses) is best known as the author and illustrator of the bestselling Olivia series: Olivia, Olivia Saves the Circus, Olivia…and the Missing Toy, Olivia Forms a Band, and Olivia Helps with Christmas. His awards include the Caldecott Honor and Parent’s Choice (2000), Gold Award Winner, Los Angeles Times Best Books (2000 and 2001), Publishers Weekly Best Books (2000 and 2001), among others, and was voted Favorite Illustrator by more than 50,000 children at the Children’s Choice Book Awards in 2008. Mr. Falconer teamed with artist David Hockney to create the costume designs for the Los Angeles Opera production of Tristan and Isolde (1987); he served as co-designer (sets and costumes) with Mr. Hockney on the Lyric Opera’s production of Turandot (1992); and designed the costumes for The Royal Opera’s production of Die Frau Ohne Schatten at Covent Garden. In 1996, Mr. Falconer designed the sets for The Atlantic Theater’s production of The Santaland Diaries, written by David Sedaris. For New York City Ballet, Mr. Falconer has designed sets and costumes for Christopher Wheeldon’s Scènes de Ballet (1999) and Variations Sérieuses (2001), and for Stravinsky’s Jeu de Cartes, choreographed by Peter Martins. In 1999, he designed set and costumes for Boston Ballet’s production of Firebird, also choreographed by Mr. Wheeldon.


Tickets to ALL WHEELDON ($28-$168) may be purchased through the PNB Box Office:

  • Phone: 206.441.2424 (Mon.-Fri. 9am–6pm; Sat. 10am–5pm)
  • In Person: 301 Mercer Street, Seattle (Mon.-Fri. 10am–6pm; Sat. 10am–5pm)
  • Online at the Pacific Northwest Ballet website (24 hours a day, seven days a week)

Tickets are also available 90 minutes prior to each performance at McCaw Hall, located at 321 Mercer Street, subject to availability.

(Money-saving season subscriptions starting at $168 are also currently available.)

SPECIAL PRESENTATION: Christopher Wheeldon On Stage

Wednesday, September 21, 6:30 pm

McCaw Hall, Seattle Center

Enjoy an onstage preview of ALL WHEELDON hosted by the choreographer himself! Christopher Wheeldon, newly appointed to the artistic team of London’s Royal Ballet, returns to Seattle to rehearse the Company for its first program dedicated to his work.  Tickets ($20 for the general public, $10 for PNB subscribers) may be purchased by calling the PNB Box Office at 206.441.2424, online at, or in person at the PNB Box Office at 301 Mercer Street.

Half-price rush tickets for students and senior citizens (65+) may be purchased in-person with ID, beginning 90 minutes prior to show time at the McCaw Hall box office. Subject to availability.

All Thursday and Friday performances: September 23, 29 and 30 at 7:30 pm.
One ticket for $15 and two for $25 for patrons 25 years and younger! To purchase tickets, contact the PNB Box Office at 206.441.2424 or visit 301 Mercer Street. This offer is good for September 23, 29 and 30 performances only. Offer is subject to availability and not valid on previously purchased tickets. Each attendee must present valid I.D. upon ticket retrieval.

PNB is a proud participant of Seattle Center’s Teen Tix program. Young people 13 to 19 years old can purchase tickets to PNB performances and other music, dance, theater and arts events for only $5. To join Teen Tix or view a list of participating organizations, visit Seattle Center’s Teen Tix webpage at

Discounts to ALL WHEELDON are available for groups of 10 or more. For group tickets, please call 206.441.2416, email or use PNB’s Online Group Builder (at which assists audience members to gather friends, family and co-workers to see any performance and save.

Friday, September 16, 6:00 pm
The Phelps Center, 301 Mercer Street, Seattle
Join us for an hour-long dance preview led by Artistic Director Peter Boal and featuring PNB dancers performing excerpts from ALL WHEELDON. PNB Friday Previews offer an upbeat and up-close view of the Company preparing to put dance on stage. Tickets, $10 each, may be purchased by calling the PNB Box Office at 206.441.2424, online at, or in person at the PNB Box Office at 301 Mercer Street. Note: This event will sell out in advance! Friday Previews are sponsored by U.S. Bank.

Tuesday, September 22, 12:00 noon
Central Seattle Public Library, 1000 Fourth Avenue, Seattle
Join PNB for a free lunch-hour preview lecture at the Central Seattle Public Library. Education Programs Manager Doug Fullington will offer insights about ALL WHEELDON, complete with film excerpts that illuminate the ballets being discussed. FREE of charge.

Thursday, September 22, 2011
Lecture 6:00 pm, Nesholm Family Lecture Hall at McCaw Hall
Dress Rehearsal 7:00 pm, McCaw Hall
Join PNB artistic staff for an engaging discussion during the hour preceding the dress rehearsal. Attend the lecture only or stay for the rehearsal. Tickets are $12 for the lecture, or $25 for the lecture and dress rehearsal. Tickets may be purchased by calling 206.441.2424, online at or in person at the PNB Box Office at 301 Mercer Street.

Nesholm Family Lecture Hall at McCaw Hall
Join Education Programs Manager Doug Fullington for a 30-minute introduction to each performance, including discussions of choreography, music, history, design and the process of bringing ballet to the stage. One hour before performances. FREE for ticketholders.

Skip the post-show traffic and enjoy a Q&A with Artistic Director Peter Boal and PNB dancers. Immediately following each performance in the Norcliffe Room at McCaw Hall. FREE for ticketholders. (At the Saturday, September 24 7:30 performance, the post-show Q&A will be moderated by KUOW’s Marcie Sillman, as part of KUOW’s Front Row Center. For more details, including information on discounted tickets to this performance, visit

 Schedule and programming subject to change.

Watch Pacific Northwest Ballet’s trailer for After the Rain

Watch the company rehearse After the Rain in Vail last year

Watch a performance of After the Rain with Damian Smith and Yuan Yuan Tan at the Fire Island Dance Festival in 2010. It’s a beautiful outdoor performance. 

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