Dinner at Ethan Stowell’s Tavolata in Bell Town was an overall nice experience. Inside, the décor was minimalist with exposed concrete walls and a great deal of natural lighting. I noted that comfort didn’t seem to be a huge concern as the chairs and booths were a rigid hard wood. The space felt stiff and cold to me as I found myself sitting in a draft and a tad physically uncomfortable as the meal progressed.
The food however was delightful. We started with the roasted garlic flat bread and smoked pork belly. Roasted garlic indeed, it was a good thing we both had it! Since pasta is the star at Tavolata, Michael had the Rigatoni with spicy Italian sausage and tomato and I had the potato Gnocchi with wild mushrooms and arugula. Both were lovely entrees, worthy of a return visit! Finally we had some heavenly puffed doughnuts with chocolate dipping sauce for dessert. Although they were quite yummy, they seemed to be the tipping point for both Michael and I, as we seemed to waddle out of the restaurant and on to the ballet.
Pacific Northwest Ballet’s New Works was a non-traditional evening of dance with pointe shoes, minus tutus! The first piece Kisses (short for A Million Kisses To My Skin) was a beautifully modern ballet, a true tour de force! Using the line, artistry and strong ballet technique; Kisses showed off the pure athleticism of the dancers. Simple costumes of only a leo for the women and capri tights with a tight top for the men allowed the audience to appreciate the detail and beauty of the human form. Both of us really enjoyed this piece!
The second piece was enjoyable, but it was the third piece that left me a little disappointed in this program. As the title of the show suggests, these were new, contemporary pieces. The final piece was a little too “modern” for my liking. To be honest, I’m not a huge fan of modern dance. I have my reasons and many of them stem from my experience in college, that I shan’t bore you with. I’m not talking about the classic modern choreographers like: Taylor, Robbins, Ailey, Cunningham, or Graham (to name a few). They were some of the dance world forefathers and their unique techniques embody the foundation in which modern dance was built.
Writhing and slithering around absent of technique or line, being avant-garde for the sake of being different is not interesting to me. Flexing a foot as to pointing it or jetting one’s neck forward for, I don’t know, the “look”? I pay money to see artistry, athleticism and a high level of amazingness that pretty much no one in the audience (including me) can do. In my opinion, you could pluck someone out of the audience and give them some types of modern choreography and with minimal coaching they could get through it. You simply can’t do that with ballet and that is my litmus test for great dancing. Case in point, the third piece from last night. It lacked most of the elements I consider essential to a great dance piece. I just wasn’t a fan. But that’s the beauty of art, I can have my opinion and you can have yours.
I am a ballet traditionalist as most all of my training was ballet. Even though I love the tutu and story ballets, I also adore abstract pieces. I find myself absorbing the whole piece: choreography, costuming, lighting, sets, and music. But again, what I find most impressive about professional companies is the level on which they perform; they are artists of the highest caliber, they are also athletes!
Finally, I cannot say enough about how lucky I am. I not only have an amazing husband, but he enjoys the ballet and supports the arts as a PNB season subscriber. All in all, it was a great evening. I’m always happy with dinner and the ballet in Seattle!