The Pacific Northwest Ballet performed a program titled Petipa Exotique as part of the Guggenheim’s Works & Process series this Sunday and Monday. Doug Fullington, a dance historian who is on staff at the ballet, guided us through selections from Le Corsaire, Le Rois Candaule and La Bayadere.
The works chosen for the program are 19th century ballets as choreographed by Marius Petipa. Orientalism was de rigeur of this period, but these ballets seemed more classical than exotic. Fullington explained that many of Petipa’s notations for the ballets were incomplete and they needed to look to other sources for guidance. Photographs, drawings and paintings were used in conjunction with discussions between the dancers, choreographers and historians to fill in the blanks. He shared a few of the images many of which got a good laugh.
Fullington also explained that although these ballets are still performed today the more modern versions use different choreography and that the ballets as written by Petipa haven’t been performed in more than half a century.
There are no sets on the Guggenheim’s small stage and the dancers wore simple ballet dress. The music was played by two violinists. This, as we learned, was the way it was done during ballet practices in the 19th century. The music alone was worth the price of admission.
Works & Process at the Guggenheim is a performing art series that explores music and dance through performance and discussion. Afterwards there is a reception in the rotunda with the artists. More events are scheduled and it’s not too late to get tickets to upcoming events. (Ticket prices are approximately $30). And the performance Sunday night was streamed live for free. LAR