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Tutus galore tonight but not the rest of the season

Pacific Northwest Ballet reserved the program cover for a classic tutu shot, principal dancer Carrie Imler exquisitely posed with a glittering tiara on top. For those who think ballet is all about the tutu, then they will want to catch “Symphony in C” (1947/48) in the last half of tonight's program at McCaw Hall. The third color in “Tricolore,” a collection of ballets first performed at the Paris Opera Ballet,  it emphasizes technique, toe shoes, and tutus. It’s also the only George Balachine piece of the evening. That too draws those who believe modern choreography begins with Balanchine.

"Symphony in C" at Pacific Northwest Ballet. Photo: copyright Angela Sterling 2016

Imler, who joined PNB as an apprentice in 1995, moved steadily through the ranks, achieving her position as principal in 2002. Watching her with Steven Loch, who entered the corps in 2012, is an interesting contrast of veteran and relative newbie. As always with Balanchine, the emphasis was on the lady, with her taking the most time front and center. The only drawback with the piece is that it doesn’t really let Imler cut loose the way that she can, and has, in a character role.

Angelica Generosa, promoted last weekend to soloist, also uses her high wattage stage charm to great effect in “Symphony in C.”

Other promotions announced last week were Ben Griffiths to principal dancer and Matthew Renko to soloist. Both gentlemen were slightly sweaty from the hardcore workout of Benjamin Millepied’s “3 Movements” (2008), which sends the dancers hurtling through every inch of the stage. They are barely given time to breathe, much less catch their breath, in a work set to the hard-driving sound of Steve Riech’s “Three Movements for Orchestra.” The live music was nicely performed, as always, by PNB Orchestra under the direction of Emil de Cou.

Equally charming musically was the second Millepied piece “Appassionata” (2016). Set to Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 23 in F minor, it was performed by Allan Dameron on piano. On stage, three couples moved through the dreamlike movements in costumes reminiscent of silky sleepwear. When the work first premiered at the Paris Opera Ballet, it was known as “The night ends.” The mood does give off that feel of a good party winding down and maybe even intruding upon the lovers’ final pairing off.

With two-thirds of the pieces created in the 21st century and one-third in the 20th, it heralds a season at PNB that is devoted more to where ballet is going than where it came from. The tutus are largely retired after this weekend (save for the iconic “Nutcracker”). Instead, the rest of the season emphasizes new works, iconic Broadway ballets, and fresh takes on old tales such as Cinderella.

"Tricolore" continues through October 3. To learn more, check