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Dinner & Ballet: Cuoco, Apollo & Carmina

I personally believe that an evening out including a great dinner and quality entertainment is a fantastic remedy for what ails us.  Culture forces us to think outside the playing field as it were, we forgo our primal and competitive drive to enter a heightened sense and experience on a deeper, creative level.  Much like experiencing a wonderful meal, artistic and cultural events bring us together.  A shared adventure tightens our bond, gives us common ground and opens the floodgates of discussion.  You are free to like or dislike, agree or disagree, it’s hard not to participate on some level.

Our evening started at Cuoco.  Located on Terry Avenue in South Lake Union Seattle, it’s Tom Douglas Italian restaurant with a specialty of freshly made in house pasta.  In fact, as you walk inside you can watch them make batch after mouth-watering batch of beautifully golden pasta.  Talk about food porn (minus cheesy music)!

This was our second time to Cuoco.  We highly recommend the bread service that includes slices from a Dahlia workshop house loaf with olive oil, oilves and wonderful rosemary lardo (a type of Italian charcuterie made of cured strips of pig fatback with herbs).  We both had the exceptionally light salad of lolla rossa, baby spinach, pickled onion and roasted balsamic vinaigrette.  For the entrees Michael had the Bucatini with marinara and braised beef meatballs and I had the Tagliatelle with asparagus, pancetta and pecorino.  Both were amazing, as only a Tom Douglas joint can deliver.

We finished off the meal with their triple scoop sampler of gelato.  Chocolate / caramel, vanilla and almond, served with mini biscotti.  The serving was perfect, the vanilla and chocolate were on the ends and the almond was in the middle.  Michael had his vanilla, I had my chocolate and we had joint custody of the almond.

On to the ballet.  I have seen both PNB’s Apollo and Carmina Burana before.  It was nice to see them again, because each time I see a piece for the second or even third time, I’m able to notice difference nuances in the choreography, or spatial patterns or even lighting detailing that I have not have noticed before.  It’s much like watching a movie over again; you pick up difference things from the time before.

The ballet Apollo was choreographed by George Balanchine with music by Igor Stravinsky.  One thing I really appreciate about Balachine’s choreography is that he repeats his phrases, often up to three times.  When I was choreographing, I never wanted to repeat the dance phrase for fear the audience would get tired of it.  But you know, the un-dance trained audience member rarely notices repetitive movement, so I found great comfort that one of the greatest classic choreographers of all time repeated his phrases.

Apollo is danced between one man and three women (the muses).  What I loved most about this piece was the subtle sculpted “poses” they would pause in, much like Greek statues.  Beautifully chiseled in their white tunics as if out of marble.  One such pose was the program cover (blog photo).

Carmina Burana was choreographed by Kent Stowell and the unforgettable score by Carl Orff.  With a live choral ensemble above the back of the stage hooded in black cloaks, on stage vocal soloists, a full symphony and the massive 2000 pound Wheel of Fortune set piece hovering above center stage – this is a full scale production.

I appreciated the choreography for Carmina more after reading the program notes.  The over exaggerated primal movement and costume choices made more sense to me upon understanding Mr. Stowell’s complete vision.  The medieval and primitive themes in the music, much like Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring take us back to the dark ages and reflect the feeling of those hard ancient times.

When I was young I remember the year before I could join the local ballet company, they performed Carmina Burana.  Quite different from PNB’s version, but the haunting music was what gripped me.  My mother was on the board of directors for the company at the time, so I was able to watch every performance and I did so transfixed.  That year, in sixth grade, my school had a talent show.  How many sixth graders do you know that would choose the powerful opening song O Fortuna for their elementary school talent show dance music?  I’ve always known I was ahead of my time.

I invite you to share one of your recent artistic or cultural experiences with me.  How did you feel after?  What did you love best?  What really moved you?  Tell me how this outing was different and unique.  I’d love to hear about your adventure!

* As a new blogger, one thing I need to get better at is taking photos, especially of the food I cook or order in restaurants.  It always seems to be an after thought.  I shall try to get better; I greatly appreciate your patience.  If you are a blogger and have any tricks or suggestions specifically for photos, I’d love to hear them!

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