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Dinner and Dance

Our ballet date started in Seattle on a blustery November Saturday evening.  The Coterie Room restaurant had just opened for the evening and even though we were a bit early for our reservation, we walked in anyway.  I was thankful no one was in the restaurant yet, for en route to our table, the heel of my boot caught an edge and I fell onto one knee rather loudly.  Never being one to hang around on the floor, I was up in a flash and professed to being okay and unscathed almost before the hostess could ask.  Only slightly mortified, I promptly ordered a cocktail – not that it would help with my exit, but it would help sooth the temporary feeling of being a stumblebum.

Our meal was amazing.  I had the pleasure of first eating at The Coterie Room this past summer when I was in Seattle for 5 days attending Tom Douglas’ Cooking Camp.  I had wanted to take Michael (my husband) there ever since.  The detailed menu is below.  We each had a Foie Gras Torchon and split the marinated beets and endive salad.  We also each had the duck for our entree and split the dessert.

shaved over warm buttered toast with sea salt
and aged sherry vinegar

with roasted pistachios, baby arugula, and
Cowgirl Creamery cottage cheese

dressed in a tarragon mustard vinaigrette
with candied walnuts and aged gouda

crispy pan seared duck leg with buttered farro,
arugula and a mission fig conserve

warm spiced pears in a flaky crust served
with star anise ice cream and caramel

Each dish was crafted with great care and beautifully presented.  It’s such an enjoyable experience to sample food that is not only cooked, but it’s created and conceptualized as well.  Every aspect is taken into consideration.  Fresh and seasonal ingredients are lovingly paired together, considering taste, texture (on the palate and visually), color, smell, compatibility and balance.  At certain restaurants I consider the visit on par with an art exhibit or performance.  The experience is to be savored and brings people together over a common element.

On to the ballet.

This was PNB’s second rep of the season: All Premiere featuring works choreographed by

Mark Morris, Kiyon Gaines (PNB soloist), PNB corps de ballet dancers Margaret Mullin and Andrew Bartee.

I personally am not a huge fan of Mark Morris.  While on tour several years ago he came to teach a Master Class at Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle while I was a student there.  I’m guessing he might have been on some sort of medication or slightly inebriated while teaching class because he was in quite an unsavory mood.  Belittling the entire class, cussing, randomly banging on the accompaniment drums, flinging himself about, off speech, and very odd mannerisms.  While everyone was still in awe because he was a big name in dance, they also figured he was just being an arrogant, self-absorbed artist type, but I thought different.  The following year, his troop was in Seattle again and he returned to give another Master Class.  The head of the dance department stopped me as I was walking towards the elevator before the class.  “Mark Morris is giving a Master Class, aren’t you staying?”  “No!” Was my reply.  Big name, brilliant artist type or not, you don’t treat people that way.  Certainly not college dance students who are the next wave of up and coming artists and who are looking to you for proper inspiration.  That is my Mark Morris story.

I’d like to believe he’s mellowed out a bit with age and I certainly appreciate him as an artist in the dance field.

My favorite piece of the evening was Sum Stravinsky choreographed by Kiyon Gaines with music by Igor Stravinsky.  The staging and costumes were lovely and didn’t distract from the dancing.  The dancing would be classified as ballet with the personal twist of the choreographer.  The women were en pointe and in classical tutus of a contemporary design and with bare legs.

I am certainly more of a traditionalist when it comes to dance.  Having studied and taught classical ballet for most of my life, I’m drawn to the clean lines and beauty of ballet.  I enjoy certain forms of modern dance such as specific techniques like Graham.  I’m not a fan of abstract movement for the sake of being different or rebellious against the disciplined technique of ballet – which a lot of choreographers do.

While driving home from our evening, Michael said that he prefers ballet to modern dance and that he likes the dancers in form fitting clothing and not in flowing robes (or something to that effect).  This brought a big smile to my face, as I feel that same way but I greatly appreciate this comment and opinion – coming from my sports loving, MMA watching, Bull Riding, reality show following, Cool Whip loving, mid-western hailing husband.

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