May 8, 2013

Press Releases


A Tribute to George Balanchine Featuring Agon, Diamonds, and a World Premiere by Christopher Wheeldon


May 31-June 9, 2013

Marion Oliver McCaw Hall

321 Mercer Street, Seattle Center

Seattle, WA 98109


7:30 pm on May 31, June 1, 6, 7 and 8

Matinees on June 1 at 2:00 pm, and June 9 at 1:00 pm


SEATTLE, WA — PNB’s 40th Anniversary Season comes to a close with a tribute to George Balanchine, whose works have been vital to the Company’s history. This triple-bill also features a world premiere from Christopher Wheeldon, frequently cited as today’s best contemporary ballet choreographer and often compared to “Mr. B” for his prolific versatility and capacity to update tradition. Agon returns, expertly staged by Francia Russell (an original New York City Ballet cast member) and as startlingly avant-garde as its 1957 premiere. The program’s dazzling grand finale is Diamonds, the crowning gemstone of Balanchine’s three-part Jewels, first added to PNB’s repertory by Artistic Director Peter Boal in 2006. DIRECTOR’S CHOICE runs for seven performances only, May 31 thru June 9 at Seattle Center’s Marion Oliver McCaw Hall. Tickets start at $28 and may be purchased by calling 206.441.2424, online at, or in person at the PNB Box Office at 301 Mercer Street.


In conjunction with DIRECTOR’S CHOICE, PNB is offering a special preview event on Wednesday, May 29 at 6:30 pm: CHRISTOPHER WHEELDON ON STAGE. This presentation will feature renowned choreographer Christopher Wheeldon, who has returned to Seattle to create his first original work for PNB, with Company dancers. Tickets to CHRISTOPHER WHEELDON ON STAGE are only $20, available through the PNB Box Office.


“Having Chris Wheeldon create a ballet for PNB has been a dream of mine since arriving in Seattle eight years ago,” said Artistic Director Peter Boal. “He has known and admired many of our dancers since his early days choreographing for the students of the School of American Ballet. As a choreographer, his sense of musicality and invention coupled with his knowledge of tradition and design are unparalleled. This is a true highlight of our 40th Anniversary Season.”


DIRECTOR’S CHOICE is made possible by presenting sponsor The Boeing Company, as well as major sponsor The National Endowment for the Arts and season-long sponsor 4Culture. PNB’s 2012-2013 40th Anniversary Season is proudly sponsored by Microsoft Corporation and ArtsFund.




Friday, May 17, 2013, 6:00 pm

The Phelps Center, 301 Mercer Street, Seattle
Join PNB for an hour-long dance preview led by Artistic Director Peter Boal and featuring PNB dancers rehearsing excerpts from DIRECTOR’S CHOICE. 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 through the PNB Box Office. (This event will sell out in advance.) Friday Previews are sponsored by U.S. Bank.


Tuesday, May 28, 2013, 12:00 pm 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 DIRECTOR’S CHOICE, complete with video excerpts. FREE of charge.


Wednesday, May 29, 2013, 6:30 pm

McCaw Hall

Renowned choreographer Christopher Wheeldon returns to Seattle to create his first original work for PNB.  Don’t miss this onstage presentation featuring Mr. Wheeldon with PNB Company dancers. Tickets, $20 each, are available through the PNB Box Office.



Thursday, May 30, 2013

Lecture 6:00 pm, Nesholm Family Lecture Hall at McCaw Hall

Dress Rehearsal 7:00 pm, McCaw Hall

Join PNB Founding Artistic Director Francia Russell in conversation with respected Balanchine scholar Nancy Goldner, author of “Balanchine Variations” and “More Balanchine Variations” during the hour preceding the dress rehearsal. Attend the lecture only or stay for the dress rehearsal. Tickets, $12 for the lecture or $30 for the lecture and dress rehearsal, may be purchased through the PNB Box Office.



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 Nesholm Family Lecture Hall at McCaw Hall. FREE for ticketholders.




World Premiere

Music: Joby Talbot (Tide Harmonic, 2009, arranged 2013)
Choreography: Christopher Wheeldon
Costume Design: Holly Hynes

Lighting Design: Randall G. Chiarelli

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 until 1991, when he became a 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-inresidence. 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.


British composer Joby Talbot studied composition privately with Brian Dennis and Brian Elias before graduating from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. Mr. Talbot has composed widely, creating classical and concert works for major orchestras, soloists, and vocal groups. He has constructed works for the Philharmonia Orchestra and BBC Symphony orchestra, among others, as well as numerous scores for film and television. He has collaborated with Europe’s leading choreographers at the Paris Opera Ballet, Netherlands Dance Theater, and The Royal Ballet. It was at The Royal Ballet where he and Christopher Wheeldon premiered their full-length ballet of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland in 2011.



Music: Igor Stravinsky (1953–1956)
Choreography: George Balanchine © The George Balanchine Trust
Staging: Francia Russell
Lighting Design: Randall G. Chiarelli
Premiere: December 1, 1957; New York City Ballet
Pacific Northwest Ballet Premiere: March 30, 1993


According to Igor Stravinsky, his starting point for Agon was a 17th-century manual of French court dances, a fact that is reflected in the headings to various sections of the score—sarabande, gaillard, bransle—and in a scattering of baroque steps and arm movements that Balanchine worked into his choreography. But, as the great critic Edwin Denby commented aptly after attending the premiere in 1957, the work “recalls court dance as much as a cubist still-life recalls a pipe or guitar.” For Agon is, in Balanchine’s own words, “the quintessential contemporary ballet.” In it, the great collaboration between Balanchine and Stravinsky that had begun in 1928 with Apollo entered a breathtakingly new phase. Stravinsky’s music, especially the neo-classicism of his middle years, had always appealed to Balanchine, whose affinity for its rhythmic ingenuity, inspired orchestral color and flawless architecture was that of a kindred spirit. But in Agon, which Balanchine commissioned for New York City Ballet in the 1950s, Stravinsky, who was then more than seventy years old, made clear the recent and radical influence on his work of Arnold Schoenberg’s twelve-tone, serial method. Declaring that “music like this has not been heard before,” Balanchine took up the challenge of this fiendishly—and to him, delectably—difficult score and choreographed a work that, matching the music in complexity and inventiveness, redefined ballet for our time.  [Notes by Jeanie Thomas; edited by Doug Fullington.]



Music: Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky (Symphony No. 3 in D major, Op. 29, 1875, first movement omitted)
Choreography: George Balanchine © The George Balanchine Trust
Staging: Elyse Borne
Costume Design: Karinska
Lighting Design: Mark Stanley
Premiere: April 13, 1967; New York City Ballet
Pacific Northwest Ballet Premiere: June 1, 2006


Diamonds is Balanchine’s homage to his native St. Petersburg, Russia. The ballet pays homage to Balanchine’s youth: the grandeur of St. Petersburg, the Mariinsky Theater, and the Imperial Ballet, where Balanchine trained. Echoes of Petipa’s Swan Lake and Raymonda abound, and the centerpiece of the ballet is an intimate pas de deux, potent in its chivalrous reserve, for the ballerina and her cavalier. At its end, the entire cast joins the principal couple for a gloriously spirited polonaise. Diamonds is the third and final ballet of Balanchine’s Jewels. At its New York City Ballet premiere in 1967, Jewels was touted as the first “plotless full-length ballet.” The story goes that Balanchine was inspired to create the ballet after a visit to the New York jeweler Claude Arpels of Van Cleef and Arpels. While each of its three ballets—Emeralds, Rubies, and Diamonds—may not follow any definitive narrative, like real gems themselves, each can be viewed in multiple ways and from a variety of angles. The great American dance critic, Arlene Croce, described Jewels as “unsurpassed as a Balanchine primer, incorporating in a single evening every important article of faith to which this choreographer subscribed and a burst of heresy, too.” Balanchine himself, in his typical noncommittal way, stated, “Of course, I have always liked jewels; after all, I am an Oriental, from Georgia in the Caucasus. I like the color of gems, the beauty of stones, and it was wonderful to see how our costume workshop, under Karinska’s direction, came so close to the quality of real stones (which were of course too heavy for the dancers to wear!).”  [Notes by Doug Fullington.]


Born in St. Petersburg, Russia, George Balanchine (1904-1983) is regarded as the foremost contemporary choreographer in the world of ballet. He came to the United States in late 1933, at the age of 29, accepting the invitation of the young American arts patron Lincoln Kirstein (1907-1996), whose great passions included the dream of creating a ballet company in America. At Balanchine’s behest, the School of American Ballet was founded in 1934, the first product of the Balanchine-Kirstein collaboration. Several ballet companies directed by the two were created and dissolved in the years that followed, while Balanchine found other outlets for his choreography. Eventually, with a performance on October 11, 1948, New York City Ballet was born. Balanchine served as its ballet master and principal choreographer from 1948 until his death in 1983. Balanchine’s more than 400 dance works include Serenade (1934), Concerto Barocco (1941), Le Palais de Cristal, later renamed Symphony in C (1947), Orpheus (1948), The Nutcracker (1954), Agon (1957), Symphony in Three Movements (1972), Stravinsky Violin Concerto (1972), Vienna Waltzes (1977), Ballo della Regina (1978), and Mozartiana (1981). His final ballet, a new version of Stravinsky’s Variations for Orchestra, was created in 1982. He also choreographed for films, operas, revues, and musicals. Among his best-known dances for the stage is Slaughter on Tenth Avenue, originally created for Broadway’s On Your Toes (1936). The musical was later made into a movie. A major artistic figure of the twentieth century, Balanchine revolutionized the look of classical ballet. Taking classicism as his base, he heightened, quickened, expanded, streamlined, and even inverted the fundamentals of the 400-year-old language of academic dance. This had an inestimable influence on the growth of dance in America. Although at first his style seemed particularly suited to the energy and speed of American dancers, especially those he trained, his ballets are now performed by all the major classical ballet companies throughout the world.  [Reprinted by permission of The George Balanchine Foundation.]




Tickets to DIRECTOR’S CHOICE ($28-$173) and special events are available 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) See below for info on our special Detour Discount Deal.
  • Online (24 hours a day, seven days a week)

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



While Seattle Center renovates the access ramp to the Exhibition Hall below the PNB Box Office, all in-person walk-up ticket sales to DIRECTOR’S CHOICE will be 20% off.  This offer only applies to in-person sales at the PNB Box Office, 301 Mercer Street.  This is a limited-time offer while construction and supplies last!



All Thursday and Friday performances: May 31, June 6 and 7 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 May 31, June 6 and 7 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. Teen Tix members 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 



Discounts are available for groups of 10 or more. For group tickets, please call 206.441.2416, email or visit



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.


DIRECTOR’S CHOICE is made possible by presenting sponsor The Boeing Company, as well as major sponsor The National Endowment for the Arts and season-long sponsor 4Culture. PNB’s 2012-2013 40th Anniversary Season is proudly sponsored by Microsoft Corporation and ArtsFund.

Schedule and programming subject to change.

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