Swarm Welcome: Crystal Pite's Emergence at PNB

Crystal Pite has Pacific Northwest Ballet all abuzz
Brangien Davis  |   November 2013   |  FROM THE PRINT EDITION
Pite’s piece Emergence (here, performed by the National Ballet of Canada) makes its PNB premiere

It’s probably not a ballet dancer’s lifelong dream to be described as buggy, but in the case of Crystal Pite’s piece Emergence, it proves the highest compliment. The Vancouver B.C.–based choreographer—whose own contemporary dance company, Kidd Pivot, performs brilliant, edgy work—had swarm intelligence on the brain when she crafted the piece, originally for the National Ballet of Canada in 2009. The riveting, provocative work explores the bug-eat-bug world of the hive mind via fluttery, flicky movement—recognizable but slightly disturbing in the way of insects, which move so differently than humans yet still remind us of ourselves. Owen Belton’s industrial score, made with clicks, buzzes and scratchings from actual creepy crawlers, adds to the sense that we’re peering into a world beneath. In Kidd Pivot pieces, it’s sometimes hard to tell what gender the dancers are, thanks to androgynous costuming. But here, with the male dancers’ exposed torsos and females sporting strapless leotards, it’s vividly clear who’s who. Consequently, Pite says, “It’s the sexiest piece I’ve made.” 11/8–11/17. Times and prices vary. Pacific Northwest Ballet, 301 Mercer St.; 206.441.2424; pnb.org