Premiered November 8-17, 2019
Pacific Northwest Ballet, McCaw Hall
Seattle is a magical place with its fairytale-like old growth forests and the glowing of the brick and glass buildings that shine out across the Sound at twilight. We are enveloped in the warm embrace of history here—from the pervasive smell of creosote mingling with the petrichor to the purple skylights embedded in our sidewalks that illuminate the underground world beneath our feet.
It’s against this backdrop that we began to ask ourselves What truly makes Seattle so special? We ventured out into the streets, asking anyone we met about their opinions and experiences here, making all kinds of new friends along the way. We found some common themes: 1) THE RAIN; 2) The people: their special knack for beautifully strange and informative conversations; 3) The arts and the astounding breadth of creativity, personality, and individuality inherent in the very soul of the city. And, finally, we heard A LOT about the fast paced changes of Seattle today. “Do you remember when —?” “Did you know that —?” and “There used to be—” are all too common refrains overheard on our sidewalks, in busses and bars, and throughout conversations with friends and strangers alike.
As two Seattleites who had been raised here, moved away, and then returned, these seismic changes that Seattle is experiencing are something we talk about often. We concluded that while local businesses might speak to the character and mood of the city at a specific moment in time, they aren’t—and cannot be—the soul of Seattle. We went in search of something more substantial and far more sincere.
Rain hitting the roof of your car, waves lapping the shores, and ferry horns blasting through the fog across the Puget Sound are local sensations free to be experienced by all. We followed the brilliant example set by the esteemed Gordon Hempton, the preeminent wildlife and nature recording artist, as well as his extremely influential natural sound conservation efforts: Quiet Parks International and the One Square Inch of Silence project (Hoh Rainforest). Through him, we were given the inspiration and the means to record our own sonic journeys through the Pacific Northwest. You will hear many of these recordings tonight! This was our starting point.
We then sought out the most creative PNW residents we could find in order to express our views of this city, and we came up with our dream team. The beautiful and moving musical compositions of the incomparable Jherek Bischoff intertwine with our Seattle soundscapes, providing a counterpoint of feelings and emotions throughout our piece. The incredible artists Maxfield Woodring and Eli Lara, under the direction of Sydney M. Pertl, have rendered a real time artistic masterpiece of our surroundings that will be created before your eyes. Patrick Stovall, who has worked at PNB as well as many other local theaters, has designed his first, full costume set at his home company. Finally, Reed Nakayama, our lighting designer and multi-tool problem solver, ties all of these aspects together to cohesively present them to you.
However, this ballet was truly only made possible through the wisdom, insight, and contributions of many, many incredible individuals. From summer indigo dyeing sessions to in-depth history lessons, we would not be here without you. (Yes, you.)
We hope you enjoy watching this ballet as much as we loved making it. Remember, Seattle lives on through all of us: Appreciate your surroundings, love your neighbors, support your local businesses, artists, and creators.
Remember, you keep our city perfect by changing it for the better.
Miles and Sydney M. Pertl,
a brother and sister production team of dance and art
aka the SeaPertls
more on the production and making of wash of gray
videos, slideshows, and process pictures!
In the press