Carla Körbes Gets Debonair

Körbes and Jerome Tisserand rehearsing Debonair with choreographer Justin Peck. Photo by Lindsay Thomas, Courtesy PNB.


When Pacific Northwest Ballet toured to NYC in October, Big Apple audiences got a first look at Justin Peck's new ballet for the company. Now, they're bringing Debonair home for its Seattle premiere (Nov. 7-16 on the Director's Choice mixed bill). For Pointe's bi-weekly newsletter, we spoke with PNB principal Carla Körbes, who will retire at the end of this season, about Debonair's creation.

This is your first time dancing a Peck work. What was the experience like?

The first step Justin gave the company, I kept looking at him like, "Where does he take his ideas from?" I always find it fascinating when people come in to choreograph and the steps are so different. He has this thing where he will put his hand in front of him and the other hand will come and meet it and then you'll spiral into the other side. It looks very easy on him. We try to do it, and it's like, "Oh. Wait. What?"


You dance Debonair's central pas de deux with Jerome Tisserand. What was the atmosphere like in those rehearsals?

Justin gets quite serious and then all of a sudden all this stuff comes out of him. He definitely concentrates when he's working, but we had a nice back and forth between what he wanted and what we were able to do.


What's most challenging about the piece?

Justin's movement is very continuous, so sometimes we have a hard time finding where we're going to breathe. He always wants you to go to the edge. The hardest part is not really the steps, but doing the movement fully and getting to the end looking debonair. 

Looking back over your years with PNB, are there are performances or roles that stand out?

You know, you're doing these roles over and over again, but I've definitely had some moments where they feel unforgettable. One is the last time I did Swan Lake with Karel Cruz. There was one show where I thought, It's not perfect. It's never going to be. But this is as good as it gets in terms of an emotional experience.


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