Ariana’s Pointe of View

Ariana Lallone is famous for her stunning 24-year career as a ballerina with Pacific Northwest Ballet.  More recently she has graced the mirror-topped spiegeltent in both our dinner performances and kid-centric concert series. This spring she has taken flight as an aerialina (ballerina + aerialist =aerialina) in our newest production, Dinner at Wotan’s. Ariana documented her magical transformation and shared it with us to share with you. Without further ado, here is Ariana’s Pointe of View:

Ariana en pointe.  Photo credit: Keith Brofsky

Ariana en pointe.
Photo credit: Keith Brofsky

As I was working towards my final bow at Pacific Northwest Ballet, I was so grateful to know I was only months away from embarking on a new adventure. I loved my life as a ballerina, and deep in my heart I knew it was too soon for me to stop performing. Providing joy to an audience and giving young children their first memory of a ballet were some of the most important parts of my career. It gave me tremendous meaning not only as a performer, but also as a person. My passion never faded.  I knew I would miss that beyond measure.

Two months after my last performance at PNB, I had my first rehearsal at Teatro ZinZanni. I had always been a huge fan of ZinZanni, and now I was in rehearsal with some of my favorite performers. I was awe struck. Not to mention, I was working under the direction of Tommy Tune. I could only think, “How on earth is a ballerina going to fit in this magical tent with all these amazingly talented people?”

Immediately, I was embraced with love, support and most importantly – encouragement. It was only a matter of days before my first name was dropped; I simply became “Ballerina.”  I was handed a bass drum to play in the opening (after a small stint with a triangle that didn’t work out so well) and given lyrics to learn for songs I would sing. Luckily, it all happened so fast, I just did it without thinking about nerves. I was, however, very aware that my world was opening in a new and exciting direction.

After 118 shows of Bonsoir Liliane!, another end seemed near.  I had formed intense friendships with our cast, and the thought of not working with them again was too painful to think about. I set a new goal. I wanted a chance to do another show.

This ballerina is flying! Photo credit: Keith Brofsky

This ballerina is flying!
Photo credit: Keith Brofsky

I wanted to expand my ballet act – I wanted to push the boundaries of my ballet/pointe work, I wanted to see if I could move off center, travel, turn, and possibly jump within the space of the tent. In order to do these things, I knew I needed something to assist me. I chose a lyra. It was not my intent to become an aerialist, but I thought I might be able to use the lyra as my “partner”… as if it and I were dancing a pas de deux.

Over the next 12 months, I discovered endless possibilities and impossibilities… it was not easy! Adjusting to spinning/turning without spotting, being upside down 15 feet above the floor, and most importantly gaining upper body strength. were new challenges. I worked with Lexi Pearl, an aerial coach in Los Angeles and Jonathan Porretta, my friend and former coworker at PNB, who helped with the ballet choreography. I then relied on Anne Gish, a back stage manager at Teatro ZinZanni who operates the winch that raises and lowers the lyra, to wait patiently while I united these two art forms. Certain ideas that I thought would work, became impossible, yet I found perfect symmetry with others. It was at times frustrating and at times exhilarating! With perseverance, an intense desire to make it work, and much encouragement… I slowly carved out my act. The end result has meant another opportunity for me to perform with Teatro ZinZanni. I am beyond excited to premiere my new act and look forward to further creations with my new “partner.”

As rehearsals began for Dinner at Wotan’s, I was/am so grateful for the opportunity to meet a new cast of performers and be a part of the process of building a new show. This ballerina is flying high!

Attention All Mortals – the Nordic Gods are Upon Us!

Dinner at Wotan’s opens tonight!   We have been squee-ing all day  long in between feverish preparation for the grand opening.  This show is co-directed by our fearless founder Norm Langill and Swedish triplePhoto credit: Korum BischoffDinner at Wotan's threat  Tobias Larsson (actor, director, choreographer), who will also choreograph and star in this production. Get ready for an electric mix of fresh performances from the likes of Swedish superstar Anki Albertsson, sprinkled with impeccable returning acts such as  Vertical Tango (back by popular demand).

We’re also delighted to welcome back the incredible Los Excéntricos, a troupe who performed in our opening show waaaay back in 1998.  It has been far too long!

An ode to the Northwest’s Nordic community, Dinner At Wotan’s will musically rock the tent, presenting a hybrid of the classical sounds of Wagner’s The Ring and big, epic rock sounds, like Queen’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’.  “A lot of rock tunes live very close to classical pieces, so we’re trying to mix that classical world with the rock, and course, with our own Durkee-ZinZanni style,” co-director Tobias Larsson commented. The music from Dinner at Wotan’s will be composed by harmonious superman Norman Durkee with lyrics by Martha Davis, long-time front-woman for the new wave band The Motels, best known for such hits as “Only the Lonely” and “Suddenly Last Summer”.

And we are oh-so ecstatic to announce that Christopher Phi will be returning to the tent as one of Wotan’s progeny.  In fact the whole cast just gives us jitters!

Let’s list them out again:

Geoff Hoyle/Jarion Monroe (Wotan, Ruler of Asgard)
Anki Albertsson (Frigg, Madame of Valhalla, wife of Wotan)
Tobias Larsson (Thor, Son of Wotan and Frigg, Heir apparent to Asgard)
Terry Crane
(Loki, Son of Wotan & Frigg)
Sam Payne of Vertical Tango
(Balder, Son of Wotan & Frigg)
Sandra Feusiof Vertical Tango
(Helga, Valkyrie, Guardian of the Underworld)
Kristin Clayton
(Brunhilde, Warrior)
Ariana Lallone
(Freya, Valkyrie, Goddess of Love)
Marceline, Sylvestre and Zaza of Los Excéntricos
(Kimir, Hardon, and Snotra, The Troubadour Dwarves)
Christopher Phi (Jorgemon, Son of Wotan)

Chef Erik Carlson has pulled out all the stops.  But what will we dine upon?

Appetizer: Hard Cider Slow Braised Duroc Pork Belly (there’s a herbivore-friendly variation of this dish upon request)
Soup: Smoked Gouda and White Cheddar
Salad: Shaved Fennel, Watercress, Dried Cherries 
Your Choice of Entree:
Hales Red Menace Ale Braised Beef Short Rib
Crab-Stuffed Wild Salmon Roulade
Puff Pastry Cornucopia
Dessert: Golden Apple Tart

See the full menu here.

Get Your Tickets!

The Gods are Coming to Dinner

Attention all mortals: The Gods are almost upon us!  Our new show, Dinner at Wotan’s opens January 31st and we’ve cast gods.  Well, we’ve cast performers to be gods.  No pressure.  Live up to mythological deity status.   Try to avoid the usual pitfalls that follow divinity, like wrath and pestilence.  Good?  Good.

We kid (except about not causing plagues and wrath, those things are the worst). The cast is perfect. Perfect!

Now, without further ado, here is the supreme cast of Dinner at Wotan’s!

Wotan, Ruler of Asgard: Geoff Hoyle / Jarion Monroe

Frigg, Madame of Valhalla, wife of Wotan: Anki Albertsson

Thor, Son of Wotan & Frigg, Heir apparent to Asgard: Tobias Larsson

Loki, Son of Wotan & Frigg: Terry Crane

Balder, Son of Wotan & Frigg: Sam Payne (Vertical Tango)

Helga, Valkyrie, Guardian of the Underworld: Sandra Feusi (Vertical Tango)

Brunhilde, Warrior: Kristin Clayton

Freya, Valkyrie, Goddess of Love: Ariana Lallone

Kimir, Hardon, & Snotra,  The Troubadour Dwarves: Los Excéntricos (Marceline, Sylvestre and Zaza)

The cast is an exciting mix of returning veterans like Los Excéntricos who performed in the first ZinZanni show EVER, and freshmen like Anki Albertsson who is Swedish celeb royalty (minus the crown).  The role of Wotan will be split, beginning with Geoff Hoyle reigning the opening and passing the scepter to Jarion Monroe on March 24th to the close.  It will be fascinating to see what each actor brings to the role.

There is much more to come, so please stay tuned!

“In Tents is Irresistible!”

We’ve been humming (and craving) “Popcorn” since Saturday and according to the reviews, we aren’t the only ones (looking at you Emerald City Kids).  Last weekend, we kicked off the first (and second) show in our rip-roaring good fun series, In Tents with Recess Monkey.  The show was not only a smashing success, it was sold out!

Here is just a taste of some of the juicy reviews:

In Tents, the new show for kids at Teatro ZinZanni, is irresistibly good fun, thanks to the trio Recess Monkey and acrobat Saffi Watson, among others.”

-The Seattle Times

“It was a fantastic combination of elements that transported adults and had the children staring open-mouthed in wonder.”

-ParentMap

“If there is one show to see in Seattle with kids this summer, I think it’s the Recess Monkey’s In Tents at Teatro ZinZanni.”

 -EmeraldCityKids.com

“The music was accompanied by fun performances from some of the Teatro ZinZanni performers and included some seriously impressive contortions, a performing “bear”, some great juggling (my son’s favorite part!), dancing and more!”

-GrowingBabyReviews.com

You can catch a glimpse of some of this monkey business tomorrow morning on Q13 Fox Morning News. Don’t miss your chance to rock out with Recess Monkey and some of their friends.  The concert series continues throughout the summer: Saturday 5/12, Saturday 5/19, Saturday 6/2, Saturday 6/23, Sunday 6/24, Saturday 7/14,  and ends Sunday 7/15.

Get your tickets before they sell out (and they will at this rate)!!

And now a dancing bear for your enjoyment:

The Weekly Herald Swoons Over Bonsoir Liliane!

Less than three weeks left to see the ever-amazing Liliane Montevecchi in Bonsoir Liliane!Michael Doucett

This fact makes us sad and we will remain in denial for long after it is appropriate.  The shows simply fabulous.  With possibly the best introduction EVER, Dale Burrows  from  The Weekly Herald is now a believer in the power of Teatro ZinZanni (as well he should be, we are delightful).  A visit here is “to step into a realm where dreams and reality converge, time stands still, everything is not as it seems”.

A few of many accolades for his delightful review:

“Well, I stepped in a skeptic, came out a believer and time is still standing still. “Bonsoir, Liliane!” knocks your socks off.”

“The acrobatics of Parisians Domitil Aillot, Gregory Marquet and Mickael Bajazet, dazzle.”

“Graceful sensuality shows itself in the amazing contortions of Ukrainian Vita Radionova.”

“Former Pacific Northwest Ballet’s Ariana Lallone’s solo is sheer elegance.”

Read the full review here!

Get your tickets to see this dazzling performance!

Ariana Lallone at the Gage Drawing Jam

Teatro ZinZanni proudly participated in the 12th Annual Gage Drawing Jam!  If you have not been, you must go next year.  It is truly a delightful and creative event for artists of varying talents.

Each year we select one cast member to attend/model for the budding artists to sketch.  This year, we brought Bonsoir Liliane! cast member and pirouetting sensation  Ariana Lallone to act as costumed portrait model.   Ariana kindly loaned us a spectacular drawing, gifted to her by participating artist Kelly Patterson, to add to our photo montage.

Check out Kelly’s drawing and some photos we snapped below!

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Seattle Magazine Raves About Bonsoir Liliane!

The muscles in my face literally ached from smiling“, says Bond Huberman from Seattle Magazine.  It appears Mr. Hubberman has fallen under the spell of the velvet-topped tent (he is not the first, we assure you) and its fantastically talented cast.  Of the show, he says it “tilts between musical numbers, acrobat stunts, comedy routines and even one opportunity for audience members to stand up and enjoy a romantic slow dance with their loved ones.”

Photo by Micheal DoucettOther highlights from the review:
“(Liliane) Montevecchi’s Auntie Mame persona keeps up with Kent in sheer audacity. She’s a petite older woman, but she has shockingly flexible legs (which she is unafraid to show off) and a voice that sometimes talks through and sometimes blasts out standard numbers like La Vie En Rose and Diamonds Are Forever.”
 “Every move (Kevin) Kent makes is backed by expert improv skills – or his uncanny ability to predict exactly who his audience members are, and where their boundaries are flexible.”

“So, when we’re not marveling at what Ukrainian contortionist Vita Radionova can do in spite of the typical rules of a human rib cage – or the terrifying free falls of Les Petits Freres (an adorable trio of French acrobats), we take deep dives into a darker story…”.

Read the full review in all its glory!