A Pacific Northwest Ballet Dancer Is Premiering an Ambitious, Out-Of-This-World Show

Kyle Davis has been creating dances regularly at PNB, but he's never done anything quite like what's in the works for a new show this fall
PNB soloist Kyle Davis photographed at the company's studio at Seattle Center; his yet-to-be-named large scale work debuts this fall

This article appears in print in the September 2018 issue. Read more from the Fall Arts Preview feature story hereClick here to subscribe.

So far known only as “New Davis,” one work on Pacific Northwest Ballet’s All Premiere program in November will be by company soloist Kyle Davis. It’s not unprecedented for a PNB dancer to choreograph for his or her colleagues, and Davis has been creating dances regularly for PNB’s “Next Step” series, its annual choreographers’ showcase, since 2012.

But PNB is entrusting Davis (a Wisconsin native who joined the company as an apprentice in 2008 and rose to soloist in 2016) to create an unusually large-scale work for its main subscription series: 40 minutes, 24 dancers.

“I want to use the full force of PNB,” he says. “By having two performing casts [who will alternate performances during the run], I’m able to work with every dancer in the company.” Except for himself, that is. Davis admits, “I have very little interest in choreographing on myself.”

His piece won’t be simply another romantic story ballet: “The simplest way to describe the concept of the work is the anthropomorphization of the birth of a planetary system,” Davis says. “By ascribing human attributes to astronomical objects, I can learn more about the human condition—delving into developmental behavior, psychological resilience and personality.”

The music Davis chose, a vital element for the project, is by film composer Michael Giacchino (The Incredibles, Up and Coco, among many others), whom Davis calls a genius: “Every time I listen to his scores, I immediately see movement. His compositions, musical structure and use of different instruments are truly inspiring.”

Trusted collaborators Elizabeth Murphy, PNB principal dancer and leotard designer, and Reed Nakayama, stage electrician, are also involved; they’ll make Davis’ outpouring of ideas for costumes, sets and lighting practical: “Liz and Reed have always returned with an idea based on my initial thought, but far more interesting,” he says. “Once I finally shut up, it’s in their hands.”

11/2–11/11. Times and prices vary. Pacific Northwest Ballet, McCaw Hall, Seattle Center, 321 Mercer St.; 206.733.9725; pnb.org g.b.

Boal on Robbins

PNB’S artistic director remembers choreographer Jerome Robbins with a new festival

In a moving reminiscence in the March issue of Dance magazine, Pacific Northwest Ballet artistic director Peter Boal writes of the first time he worked with American choreographer Jerome Robbins (at age 10, as Cupid, in Robbins’ Mother Goose): “The stories of Jerry’s anger are legendary…but his compliments were real and carried great weight. He nurtured many and helped those he worked with find their best selves.” 

In a tribute to the choreographer’s centennial, Boal—who later worked with Robbins for 22 years—opens PNB’s season with the first Jerome Robbins Festival, staging seven of the choreographer’s works. Although famously challenging to work under, Robbins made masterworks for both the ballet and musical stages; with his contribution to 1957’s West Side Story, he joined the elite rank of choreographers identified as strongly with a show as its lyricist or composer. (Along with Dances at a Gathering, Afternoon of a Faun and other pieces, the West Side Story Suite will be performed during the festival.)

9/21–9/29. Times and prices vary. McCaw Hall, Seattle Center, 321 Mercer St.; 206.733.9725; pnb.org

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