Inside the Ballet: A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Pacific Northwest Ballet

Principal dancer Lesley Raush as Titania (center) lounges in a conch shell under a bower of roses with her fairy court of PNB Company dancers.  

Dear Friends,
As the hints of mid-summer weather start to be felt, along comes George Balanchine’s enchanting production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. This production is unique to PNB, not in choreography, but in the wondrous set and costume designs created for us by Martin Pakledinaz. Marty chose designs elements that were particular to the Northwest, like giant spiders, hanging fog, conch shells, and moss.

Corps de ballet dancer Chelsea Adomaitis with PNB Company dancers. 
A Midsummer Night’s Dream was originally staged for PNB by Susan Hendl and Sara Leland with Francia Russell. Francia still oversees the production each time PNB performs it. On April 19th, PNB marked its 101st performance of the ballet.

PNB soloist Benjamin Griffiths as Oberon. 
There are 25 children in every show. Balanchine often elected to use children as his corps de ballet, as evidenced in Coppélia, HarlequinadeA Midsummer Night’s Dream and The Nutcracker. His choreography for children is appropriately challenging and charming.

PNBS Professional Division students Grace Haskins, Angeli Mamon and Amy Young who all perform corps de ballet roles in the production today, started out as bugs.

Principal dancer Lesley Raush as Titania with PNB Company dancers.
Our Hippolytas actually have two bows. They use a slightly smaller one for their fouette turns. They are also looking through a scrim, dancing in dry ice and wearing a cornucopia on their heads. Please don’t try this at home.

Corps de ballet dancer Brittany Reid as Hiippolyta. 
There are 28 role debuts in this run. (Find this weekend’s casting here!)

Principal dancer Lindsi Dec as Helena with soloist Jerome Tisserand as Lysander.
Pucks get an additional $60 in hazard pay each time they fly. There are five Pucks and 13 flights, including rehearsals. Cha-ching.

Corps de ballet dancers Leta Biasucci and Price Suddarth with Company dancers. 
It’s estimated that our female Company dancers and Professional Division students will wear 350 pairs of pointe shoe during this run of Midsummer. At $80 a pair, that’s a whole lot of cha-ching! Coincidentally, I’ll be making a request of our audiences to consider supporting our pointe shoe bill through gifts to PNB’s annual fund. When you grab your tickets, you might want to bring your checkbook, too!

Principal dancers Kaori Nakamura and Seth Orza in the Divertissement pas de deux. 
Seriously, you will love these performances. Balanchine, Shakespeare, Mendelssohn, Russell, Pakledinaz, Chiarelli, the PNB Orchestra, Dancers and School make for the most magical experience of the season.

See you at the ballet! – Peter


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