Director's Choice at Pacific Northwest Ballet
This collection of three ballets expanded my understanding of the possibilities of the art. Little Mortal Jump incorporated music you don't ever hear at the ballet (Andrew Bird, Beirut, Philip Glass, Tom Waits) in order to tell a love story informed by recent advancements in theoretical physics. It reminded me of a play that ran at the Seattle Rep in February, Constellations, and also of Joanna's Newsom's new album, Divers. Those three pieces of art share a similar aesthetic and a similar concern: nonlinear space-time + love. The artists all seemed to be working on them roughly around the same time (2012), too, but in different corners of the western world: Spain, England, and the United States, respectively. It's as if they all heard the same episode of Radiolab and simultaneously decided to reluctantly pursue long-term relationships. Justin Peck's Year of the Rabbit (scored by Sufjan Stevens) combined cheerleading and classical movement. The show was athletic and spectacular.
The Guy Who Stormed Out of Disgraced at Seattle Repertory Theatre
Hoo-boy, this guy. So there we all were, watching this intense play about race, religion, and identity, where exactly zero of the characters fit into any stereotypes. The main character is Amir, a former Muslim pursuing the American dream by trying to climb the ladder at his law firm. Amir is married to Emily, a white woman whose Islamic-influenced painting has attracted the attention of their Jewish friend and art gallery owner Isaac, who has definitely slept with Emily in the past and who would not mind doing so again. Isaac is married to Jory, a black power-attorney and staunch conservative. They're all having a very TENSE and smart dinner conversation about race and international politics. Meanwhile, this white guy sitting a couple rows in front of me, house left, must be boiling about all this, because when Amir punches Emily at the play's climax, the guy shouts something like "THIS IS RIDICULOUS! STOP THIS!" and storms out of the theater, tripping over some carpet along the way. He returned for the postshow talk back. When the mic finally got around to him, he half-yelled some unintelligible string of ejaculations that included HOW DARE THIS PLAY and I CAN'T EVEN and HOW AWFUL. Before anyone got a chance to ask a follow-up question about what he specifically found so objectionable about the play, he'd already dropped the mic on the ground like a baby throws a Cheerio off a high chair and re-skedaddled in disgust. The whole point of the show was to spark an earnest discussion about the complexities of racial and religious identities. I guess that guy couldn't handle the complexity. I wonder if he's from Seattle.
Hillary Goes to High School
When Secretary Hillary Clinton stopped by Rainier Beach High School (go, Vikings!) for a rally, I wrote a Slog post about the strength of Clinton's selfie game. But I didn't really write about her choice of venue. At the beginning of her speech, Clinton congratulated RBHS for their recent academic success. More students are taking AP classes and their graduation rates have gone way up, all of which is making their enrollment numbers go up. She rightly attributed this success to the school's implementation of the International Baccalaureate program. Clearly, someone on her team did the research. She wasn't just exploiting the school to make it look as if she cared about students of color. But that program was funded by grant money that will run out next year, and she made no mention of how the flexible testing requirements in the Every Student Succeeds Act, the only specific policy on her K–12 platform, will help the kids of RBHS stay on track. Nor did she say anything of substance about the city itself, with the exception of a few nods to the booming tech industry and Boeing. And yet her bit of political theater got me down there with my little pen and paper. I ate at a taco bus that I'd never eaten at before. I talked to some people in the neighborhood I'd never talked to before. I looked up a bunch of reports about a school I hadn't thought of before. And, seeing as how there were cars parked all along the street, I'd venture I wasn't the only person who had to travel a considerable distance to get to the neighborhood I'd never spent much time in.