Best Retirement Party

In a field where 10 years is considered a substantial professional career, PATRICIA BARKER's 20-plus years onstage have been an astonishing achievement. The fact that all those years have been spent at Pacific Northwest Ballet has been a special blessing for those of us lucky enough to watch a young woman transform into a ballerina. And the works she chose to dance for her retirement performance June 10 prove that she's leaving at the top of her skills: the gut-busting virtuosity of the Corsaire pas de trois, a pair of Balanchine heroines (Titania in A Midsummer Night's Dream, all wild and powerful, and the cool beauty of the Agon pas de deux), and her Odette, an astonishing combination of woman and bird. Like her performances in Swan Lake earlier this season, she's channeling a dance world beyond the ones we normally see, and we are rapt in our seats. That's what ballerinas do, and we've been fortunate to see one in action all this time.—Sandra Kurtz

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