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Lincoln Center: Reviews & Impressions

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#61 Kathleen O'Connell

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Posted 01 August 2006 - 02:23 PM

I suppose this should really be posted under “August Silliness.” Notable difference between NYCB and SFB ballerinas: WHERE were the false eyelashes? Did they leave them at home? Couldn’t anyone give them directions to the nearest Ricky’s? Is this a left-coast / right-coast thing or a genuine glamour deficit that will keep SFB from achieving the world-class status it might otherwise deserve? Clearly I’ve been living in NYC for far too long – I thought false eyelashes were required just to get up on pointe. (Isn’t that how the Trocks do it?) :)

#62 sf_herminator


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Posted 01 August 2006 - 09:41 PM

I do think the Company's ability to dance Balanchine well is a gauge. In the late 90's, I saw a stunner of a Liebeslieder Walzer with Julia Diana and Evelyn Berman, and over the years, a few wonderful Stravinsky Violin Concertos, as well as superb relatively recent performances of 4T's. I was less enthralled with the recent Apollos than most. I don't think they do a good job with Who Cares?, but, then again, I hadn't seen very many good performances of the ballet by NYCB in the early 90's, and I can't remember any outside the company, including Durante's guest turn in the 1993 Balanchine Celebration.

ETA: There must be something in the water in San Francisco, with choreographers Possokhov, Adam, Christopher Stowell, and Paul Gibson all coming out of the SFB dancers ranks.

Forgive me as this is my first post. I am an SFB subscriber and see all 8 programs - sometimes twice - each season. Thank you everyone for all the posts about the Lincoln Center engagement - I wish I could have gone. But I just had to reply to this post - is Evelyn Berman a dancer I don't recall??? I'm sure you must be referring to either Evelyn Cisneros or Joanna Berman :grinning-smiley-001:

Helene - I'm glad that I'm not the only one who wasn't as thrilled with Apollo. In its premiere season, my ballet friend and I did not like it. When it was revived this year, it was the first performance on the program and we had a drink at the bar instead!!! Although I must admit I would have been curious to see Tiit Helimets perform the role.


#63 Helene



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Posted 01 August 2006 - 09:47 PM

Forgive me as this is my first post. I am an SFB subscriber and see all 8 programs - sometimes twice - each season. Thank you everyone for all the posts about the Lincoln Center engagement - I wish I could have gone. But I just had to reply to this post - is Evelyn Berman a dancer I don't recall??? I'm sure you must be referring to either Evelyn Cisneros or Joanna Berman :grinning-smiley-001:

Welcome to Ballet Talk, sf_herminator!

I did mean Joanna Berman. :) Thank you for pointing this out -- I always seem to combine these two, who were very different dancers.

#64 jps



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Posted 02 August 2006 - 09:35 PM

Of all the reviews I've read of SFB, this comment by Robert Gottlieb struck me as particularly astute:

"San Francisco Ballet strikes me as deeply virtuous, and I can’t wait to see it again. Even so, it lacks, for me, a crucial element of great dancing: large-scale personal expressivity. Like most companies, it reflects the characteristics of its leader. Tomasson was an immaculate classicist—elegant, tasteful, contained, never vulgar, always correct and frequently charming; that’s what his company is like, too (several of the men actually look like him). But he never fully absorbed Balanchine’s insistence on dancing full-out: His movement was always measured, his presence small-scale. Peter Martins was a cool, smooth dancer, Edward Villella was explosive and full of feeling, and their companies reflect their qualities. How could it be otherwise? Splendid as Tomasson’s San Francisco is, I can’t help wanting more—dancers not only superbly trained, hard-working and personable, but dancers who thrill."


PS: Thanks, Kathleen, for the real difference between SFB & NYCB ballerinas :blush:

#65 suzkess


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Posted 03 August 2006 - 04:20 AM

On Wed. night, I thought Yuan Tan very impressive. Lovely feet, beautiful beautiful line, deep positions, and dramatically alive.

Act II of the Ballet is the best. Morris had an original idea there and worked in his own idiom and Yuan Tan and Possokhov were most interesting. The final tableau was quite uplifting.

As for the rest: Morris is not a ballet choreographer of great skill by training or experience. He is a great choreographer in his own material but ballet isn't his metier. His ballet here, the enchainements and staging is rudimentary and thin and at times amateurish. A big mistake was to cut the stage to such shallow depth. The processionals in Act III had no punch. The material for the fauns and satyrs at the opening, likewise. There were few variations so no comment on that. But the pas in Act III was student level with a few pyrotechnical tricks thrown in. What I thought of the Gay Svengali Eros I can't say.

This will and has sold tickets because it's Morris doing Sylvia. It should not have been done. Do Act II as a short piece.


I thought Yuan Yuan Tan was best in contempory pieces. Her line is beautiful, but she has no expresssion. Can anyone tell me why Mark Morris made every guy look gay??? I was sooo disappointed in this particular version of Sylvia. I happen to love the original. I know that quite a few people in the audience near me left after the second act. These were both people who had seen the original and those that have never seen the ballet. Mr. Morris' version was a disappointment for me. I love him and adored Plate' . But this seemed a bit tired, perhaps because this was not his idea to. I heard he was commissioned to create a new version. Maybe that is why his vision is stale.

#66 Brioche


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Posted 03 August 2006 - 04:52 PM

I happen to love the original

The original ??

#67 Leigh Witchel

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Posted 03 August 2006 - 06:55 PM

I'm guessing though it isn't "original", suzkess means the Ashton version.

#68 Globetrotter



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Posted 05 August 2006 - 08:05 PM

Thanks jps for the Robert Gottlieb quote.

I've found SFB exactly that way: measured, calculating, precise and polite. I grew up in Saratoga watching NYCB and even as an adolescent found their dancing expansive and demanding to watch. Mr B (as paraphrased by a friend in the company) compared Russians to other dancers in the way they sneeze: "Russians sneeze big and loud, letting it all out. Others sneeze small and polite. We want to dance like Russians sneeze."

I always liked that image of dancing like a healthy, big sneeze: organic, cleansing, unembarassed. SFB, by way of Mr. T's coaching, seems to opt for the more restrained and measured performance: polite a'choos of restrained dancing. If I see Yuan Yuan or Nutnaree on their backs slowly unfolding their legs in one more blue-lighted adagio....

Maybe it's just me, but I really like dancing like skiing: always a little bit out of control. Give me a dancer on two feet taking risks with the music, conductor and audience in tow!

#69 jps



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Posted 06 August 2006 - 09:10 AM

Thanks for your comments, Globetrotter. What I appreciated about Gottlieb's comment is that it is not only a criticism of SFB but an appreciation, and a suggestion for future development. I don't think there is any question that SFB has benefited from Helgi's particular gifts, and has needed precisely those gifts. Your story about Mr B's comment reminded me that the talk around here (San Francisco) is that Yuri Possokhov would make a great associate artistic director for SFB. Then we would have Helgi's elegance combined with full-hearted Russian expressiveness. Meantime, I continue to think of SFB the way I think about a favorite gifted young dancer: full of promise, a pleasure to watch, and nowhere near her full potential. That's the spirit in which I took Gottlieb's comment.

#70 Ray


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Posted 09 August 2006 - 09:21 AM

A belated comment on the SFB rep program. Artefact Suite blew the other works out of the water, whatever one thinks of Forsythe (and among balletomanes, I sense a distinct dislike of his work--why is this?). My thought was that that rep program would be perfectly fine in the context of seeing the company alot--i.e., if you live in SF--but that it was not the best choice for showing the company off in a city that, as John Rockwell pointed out in the NY Times, it visits rarely.

BTW it was very interesting to hear the audience twitter when the fire curtain slammed down in Artefact. I felt like I was at the premiere of Rite of Spring! I know, I know, it's a gimmick....but I was unexpectely moved to find myself suddenly in a dark room, listening to Bach.

#71 Leigh Witchel

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Posted 09 August 2006 - 10:35 AM

Hey Ray - good to see you here again.

The audience did laugh at the fire curtain on Sat. night, but not on Sun. matinee. I think it was a flaw in the idea, not the audience; I like Artifact (see above a few posts - it gave me a lot of nostalgia for when Forsythe was going to be It) but find that after the third time the fire curtain shtick is obvious and doesn't do what it was intended to.

I don't speak for Every Balletomane on Earth, but I felt Forsythe has little allegiance to ballet despite works like Artifact. He hasn't done anything related to ballet as far as I know since '99 - and even before then his interest was waning and at its height only interested in a limited aspect of ballet - slash and burn. There's way more to ballet than there is to Forsythe, and that's why my interest in him is qualified.

#72 jps



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Posted 14 August 2006 - 10:30 PM

I'm sure this information is not news to regulars here, but for the record:

DanceViewTimes has published six diverse and well-written (as usual) reviews of SFB at Lincoln Center; the first five, by Susan Reiter, Leigh Witchel, Mary Cargill, and Lisa Rinehart are here:

The latest is Nancy Dalva's "Letter from New York."
It's a thoughtful, funny love letter to a dance company:

Robert Greskovic's appreciative review of Mark Morris's Sylvia appeared in the Wall Street Journal on August 10. The full review is only available to subscribers to the Wall Street Journal:
Nonsubscribers can download it for $4.95 after 8/18, possibly via this link:

PS: SFB is back in San Francisco and looked good yesterday during its free summer outdoor performance at Stern Grove. The impression I get is that the New York trip made them more determined than ever to be themselves. The home-town crowd gave them a very warm welcome.

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