NEXT STEP Choreographer: Ezra Thomson

As has been discussed on this blog before, Company dancer Ezra Thomson’s interests are diverse to say the least. In addition to dance and music, Ezra enjoys cooking, working on his family’s Gig Harbor farm, fixing up his 1965 Mustang, and creating goods to sell in the Etsy shop he runs with his girlfriend Sarah Pasch, who is also a member of PNB’s corps de ballet.  “I can’t not do something,” he says.

Ezra Thomson with PNB School Professional Division students at Next Step 2013


INFLUENCES: Ezra’s omnivorous tastes extend to the musical influences he drew on for his Next Step premiere, titled Win Lose or Draw. Blues, Spanish, and jazz guitar melodies composed by Ezra himself accompany and accent his choreography, which he describes as “pedestrian movements turned into dance.” Inspired by his own experiences, Win Lose or Draw presents a loose narrative based on the everyday events in a relationship – “You bump into each other in the kitchen, or throw a pillow, or have a funny hug” – but left ambiguous enough for audiences to create their own interpretation.


Ezra Thomson rehearses in the PNB Studios with Elle Macy.


INSPIRATION: The title Win Lose or Draw resulted from Ezra’s own experience choreographing the piece. Beginning with nine dancers, injuries and other commitments ultimately left him with two dancers and required a rethinking of his concept, which evolved into the piece as it is now. He moved from a straight narrative concept to more of a collaborative process with “two fantastic dancers, open to new ideas.”

Jahna Frantziskonis and Andy Garcia in Passages, Ezra’s 2011 NEXT STEP premiere.

COLLABORATION: Ezra’s openness to change is reflected in his choreographic process, which has evolved over the years. He talks about the need to follow his own style and not necessarily adhere to classically prescribed methods in his own work. To that end, it makes perfect sense that the perfect accompaniment to Ezra’s choreography would be his own compositions. Starting from a practical standpoint – “It removes constraint and makes it easier to fit what I want into the piece,” – composing his own music also allows Ezra the freedom to write for specific dancers, movements, and moods without being bound by a particular musical genre or time frame. When composing and playing, he strives for a simple yet lush sound that keeps the focus on the dancers’ movements.

Kaylee Skelton in Ezra’s 2012 NEXT STEP premiere, ich Liebe dich.


COMING UP: Ezra’s next project is right in line with his style, which is to say something totally different at which he will no doubt excel. Collaborating with Massive Monkees’ Jerome Aparis, Ezra will present a new commission combing ballet and street dance Friday, June 20th at the Seattle International Dance Festival. We can’t wait to see this new work, and what Ezra does next!

See the premiere of Win Lose or Draw on NEXT STEP 
Friday, June 13 at 7:30 pm. 
Only at McCaw Hall! 


VISIT PNB.ORG TO
LEARN MORE ABOUT NEXT STEP


Photos by Rex Tranter. Blog post by Kristen Ramer Liang.

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