Pacific Northwest Ballet Presents Peter Boal’s <em>Director’s Choice</em>

Pacific Northwest Ballet’s Artistic Director Peter Boal has selected four contemporary works for PNB’s Director’s Choice. A riveting duet, a favorite work, a little controversy, and a world premiere by Company dancer Ezra Thomson. The production runs March 16-25 at Marion Oliver McCaw Hall.

Director’s Choice features works by Ulysses Dove, William Forsythe, and Ezra Thomson. The limbs of a bonded pair sculpt open air in William Forsythe’s Slingerland Duet, and pure athleticism surges like reverb from the electric violin in Ulysses Dove’s Red Angels. Audiences have another chance to debate Forsythe’s One Flat Thing, reproduced, as the dancers take cues from each other on, under, and around 20 tables. Ezra Thomson choreographic debut The Perpetual State reflects the deep emotions of love and loss.

“Together these three innovative choreographers offer a program that challenges, inspires and rewards,” Boal said, in describing the line-up. “As young dancers, each demonstrated an interest and affinity for choreography. Their respective directors saw their potential and offered them the opportunity to choreograph for their company. Recognizing and rewarding potential and conviction will always be a priority of mine. Ezra Thomson’s got it, and just as Marcia Haydee and Alvin Ailey saw the promise in William Forsythe and Ulysses Dove, I see it in Ezra. Together these three innovative choreographers offer a program that challenges, inspires and rewards.”

Pacific Northwest Ballet’s Director’s Choice

The Perpetual State (World Premiere) is Ezra Thomson’s first work for PNB’s mainstage. It is an autobiographical story of love and loss, and the feelings that linger in your life forever. This is the perpetual state we find ourselves in when we lose someone. But there is another perpetual state, the state of love. We carry all these feelings with us throughout our lives and find ourselves in these perpetual states.”

The Perpetual State (World Premiere)
Music: Francis Poulenc (Concerto for Two Pianos and Orchestra in D minor, FP 61, 1932)
Choreography: Ezra Thomson
Costume Design: Larae Theige Hascall and Ezra Thomson
Lighting Design: Reed Nakayama Running Time: 22 minutes

Slingerland Duet
Music: Gavin Bryars (String Quartet No. 1, “Between The National and The Bristol”)
Choreography: William Forsythe
Staging: Stefanie Arndt
Lighting Design: William Forsythe
Running Time: 6 minutes
Premiere: November 25, 1989; Ballet Frankfurt
PNB Premiere: March 13, 2015 (New Suite)

Red Angels is a ballet of intense dramatic impact that is calculated to charge all the senses. Dressed in scarlet leotards and bathed in white and red hot light, four dancers perform with powerful athleticism to a riveting score for electric violin. Dove deals with aspects of the Balanchine aesthetic–the speed, legginess, the formality. As for the title, Dove likens the dancers to angels and for him, the angels of the senses are red.

Red Angels
Music: Richard Einhorn (Maxwell’s Demon, 1988-1990)
Choreography: Ulysses Dove
Staging: Peter Boal
Costume Design: Holly Hynes
Lighting Design: Mark Stanley
Running Time: 14 minutes
Premiere: May 9, 1994; New York City Ballet (Diamond Project)
PNB Premiere: September 17, 2005

William Forsythe’s One Flat Thing, reproduced caused a stir when it premiered at PNB in March 2008. Set to a rumbling sound construction by the choreographer’s frequent collaborator, composer Thom Willems, and performed by fourteen dancers on and around twenty metal tables, Forsythe’s eclectic, intellectual starting point was a consideration of the risk and adventure of Robert Scott’s Antarctic expeditions in the early 20th century. The explorers relied on each other for survival, Forsythe juxtaposes Scott’s expeditions with his own idea of a “baroque machinery,” an ornamental, highly organized construct that runs like clockwork. His thrilling choreography runs dangerously close to reckless abandon.

One Flat Thing, reproduced
Music: Thom Willems (2000)
Choreography: William Forsythe
Staging: Ayman Harper, Jill Johnson, and Richard Siegal
Scenic and Lighting Design: William Forsythe
Costume Design: Stephen Galloway
Running Time: 17 minutes
Premiere: February 2, 2000; Ballett Frankfurt
PNB Premiere: March 13, 2008

During the run of Director’s Choice, PNB presents several special events. For details, go to,

Director’s Choice by runs March 16 and 17 at 7:30 pm; March 17 at 2pm, March 22 – 24 at 7:30 pm, and March 25 at 1:00 pm at McCaw Hall; Tickets ($30-$187) are on sale through the PNB Box Office:  Phone – 206.441.2424, in Person – 301 Mercer Street at Seattle Center; and online at; Subject to availability, tickets are also available 90 minutes prior to show times at McCaw Hall.

Learn about Pacific Northwest Ballet’s next season here.


Ulysses Dove (1947-1996) was an independent choreographer who worked in both the modern dance and ballet idioms. After attending a Martha Graham performance in 1967, Dove gave up his pre-med studies at Howard University to dance professionally with Merce Cunningham, Alvin Ailey, and Anna Sokolow. His first choreography, I See the Moon…and the Moon Sees Me (1979), was commissioned by Ailey. Although he never maintained a company of his own, Dove worked closely with Jeraldyne Blunden’s Dayton Contemporary Dance Company and created works for American Ballet Theatre, Ballet France de Nancy, the Basel Ballet, Cullberg Ballet of Sweden, Les Ballets Jazz de Montreal, New York City Ballet, and the Swedish National Ballet, for which he created the transcendent Dancing on the Front Porch of Heaven (1993). In 1980, he became the assistant director of the experimental Choreographic Research Group of the Paris Opera. Dove’s choreography is famous for its speed, force and eroticism. Dove died on June 11, 1996 at the age of 49, from an AIDS-related illness.

William Forsythe has been active in the field of choreography for more than 45 years. His work is acknowledged for reorienting the practice of ballet from its identification with classical repertoire to a dynamic 21st-century art form. Mr. Forsythe’s deep interest in the fundamental principles of organization has led him to produce a wide range of projects including installations, films, and web-based knowledge creation. Raised in New York, Mr. Forsythe danced with Joffrey Ballet and Stuttgart Ballet, where he was appointed resident choreographer in 1976. He also created works for Stuttgart and ballet companies in The Hague, London, Berlin, Paris, New York, and San Francisco. In 1984, he began a 20-year tenure as director of Ballet Frankfurt, where he created works such as Artifact (1984), Impressing the Czar (1988),Limb’s Theorem (1990), The Loss of Small Detail (1991, in collaboration with composer Thom Willems and designer Issey Miyake), Kammer/Kammer (2000), and Decreation (2003). In 2004, Mr. Forsythe established The Forsythe Company and produced Three Atmospheric Studies (2005), Human Writes (2005), Heterotopia (2006), Yes we can’t (2008/2010), and Sider (2011), among others. Mr. Forsythe has been commissioned to produce architectural and performance installations worldwide. In 2002, he was chosen as the founding Dance Mentor for The Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative. He was A.D. White Professor-at-Large at Cornell University (2009-2015) and as of fall 2015, Professor of Dance and Artistic Advisor for the Choreographic Institute at the University of Southern California Glorya Kaufman School of Dance.

Ezra Thomson is from San Bernardino, California, and studied on scholarship at Riverside Ballet Arts, Orlando Ballet School, and Pacific Northwest Ballet School. He attended summer courses at PNB School, the School of American Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, National Ballet School (Toronto), the Rock School, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, and Burklyn Ballet Theatre. Mr. Thomson was a 2009 recipient of the Flemming Halby Exchange with the Royal Danish Ballet School. He danced with Orlando Ballet before joining PNB as an apprentice in 2009. He was promoted to corps de ballet in 2010 and soloist in 2017. As a freelance choreographer, Mr. Thomson has created works for Spectrum Dance Theatre, Seattle International Dance Festival, and PNB School, as well as other companies and schools around the U.S.His works for NEXT STEP, PNB’s annual choreographic showcase, include Passages (2011), The Sole in my Shoe is the One I Love (2012), Ich Liebe Dich (2013), Win, Lose or Draw (2014), There are no rules(2015), and Measure Twice, Cut Once (2016). In 2016, he choreographed Stinger for Sculptured Dance, a collaboration between PNB and Seattle Art Museum presented at Seattle’s Olympic Sculpture Park. This is his first work for PNB’s mainstage.

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Starla Smith

Starla Smith

Starla Smith is a career journalist, writing features for such publications as The New Yorker, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Daily News, The Des Moines Register, Vibe and a prize-winning Gannett Newspaper. She helped launch Theater Week Magazine and eventually became its publisher. As a regular contributor to Playbill, her interviews and photos were featured in Playbill and Playbill-on-line. Smith was featured in the New York Times "Style" section for her "Word Portraits," specialized tributes, speeches, and presentation profiles. And she covered theater and features for City Search, Digital City, and the Tena Duberry WOW! Radio show. She previously served as astrology guru for Out Magazine, and she hastens to assure her readers that "Starla" is indeed her real name.

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