Lucien Postlewaite remembers exactly how he felt the first time he danced with Noelani Pantastico.
“I was this young boy,” he recalls. “I’d always admired Noe’s dancing. The first time she talked to me I was like, ‘Oh my god!’”
That was in 2004, the year after Postlewaite joined Pacific Northwest Ballet. Pantastico had been with the Seattle ballet company since 1997 and was a rising star. Postlewaite had admired her dancing from afar, but never assumed he’d get to be her partner.
More than a decade and numerous onstage partnerships have passed since that first performance. They both left PNB for Les Ballets de Monte Carlo, but are reuniting once again in Seattle with Postlewaite's return this fall.
Their paths to the European ballet company date to PNB's presentation of the American premiere of “Romeo et Juliette,” choreographed by Jean Christophe Maillot, in 2008.
Pantastico was cast as Juliette; Postlewaite danced the role of Romeo. They, and the ballet itself, were a Seattle sensation.
It just so happens that Maillot is the artistic director of Les Ballets de Monte Carlo. He was impressed with both his lead dancers; he hired Pantastico that year. Postlewaite joined Maillot’s company in 2012, and immediately reunited with his former PNB colleague.
“It was understood we’d do “Romeo et Juliette” together; it was a natural fit,” Pantastico says.
Although Pantastico and Postlewaite burn up the stage as Shakespeare’s star-crossed lovers, they aren’t offstage partners. Still, their professional relationship shares some of the same qualities as a good romantic partnership: trust, mutual dependence and respect.
“We’re so comfortable with each other,” Pantastico explains. “We can tell each other problems right away, you don’t have to walk on eggshells with each other.”
Postlewaite chimes in. “We witnessed a lot for each other, in life and in our careers. We were in Monaco, away from home, and we understood each other.”
Although they danced for another ballet company, they reunited here for one performance of “Romeo et Juliette” in 2013. And Postlewaite performed opposite Pantastico last winter in the PNB premiere of Maillot’s updated take on Cinderella, “Cendrillon.”
Postlewaite makes his second PNB debut on September 22, in the opening night performance of George Balanchine’s “Jewels.” He’ll dance with, who else, Pantastico.The production runs through October 1 at McCaw Hall.