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SFB Program 2


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#1 PeggyR

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Posted 03 February 2008 - 10:27 AM

Since no one has posted yet about SFBs current season, I'll start things out, but I'm neither a writer nor a critic, so I hope someone else will expand on this. Also, I'd suggest checking the Links forum for proper reviews.

February 2, Matinee

Divertimento No. 15
Music: Mozart
Choreography: George Balanchine
Costumes: after Karinska
Conductor: Martin West
Principal cast: Elana Altman, Kristin Long, Sarah Van Patten, Katita Waldo, Rachel Viselli, Nicolas Blanc, Mateo Klemmayer, Hansuke Yamamoto

For some reason, I've never thought of Mozart's music as being danceable; luckily, Balanchine disagreed (presumably that's why he was an artistic genius and I work for a bank). This charmer from 1956 provides ample opportunity for soloists and ensemble to shine, and generally I thought it a good fit for SFBs talented dancers, the women in particular. Only Katita Waldo in the First Variation looked uncomfortable and constricted. (I should say here that I'm a fan of hers; in December, she danced an exquisite Nutcracker GPPD. She seems like a very welcoming dancer, as if she couldn't be more delighted to have spent 10 years training and countless hours in class and rehearsal just so she could present this lovely gift to her audience. Not all performers can project that.) While she has speed, she lacks fleetness, if that makes any sense, but she was back on form in the beautiful Andante.

Among the other very well danced variations, Sarah Van Patten stood out with a spontaneity that bordered on recklessness. And Nicolas Blanc in the male variation was notable for his soundless landings and some beautifully controlled pirouettes.

My only serious complaint with the performance was the general sloppiness of the entrechats; even the women's supported entrechats looked ill-defined. That kind of thing is annoying in any performance, but Balanchine's choreography here doesn't easily forgive fudged details. I hope I just caught 16 dancers having a collective off day, batterie-wise.

Drink To Me Only With Thine Eyes
Music: Virgil Thomson
Choreography: Mark Morris
Costumes: Santo Loquasto
Pianist: Nataly'a Feygina
Cast: Nicolas Blanc, Jaime Garcia Castilla, Frances Chung, Dana Genshaft, Margaret Karl, Gennadi Nedvigin, Patricia Perez, Damian Smith, Benjamin Stewart, Matthew Stewart, Katita Waldo, Vanessa Zahorian (note that there was a substitution, but a late-arriving patron in my row stomped on my foot just as the announcement was made and I didn't hear the names)

This was just terrific, full of little signature moments (men carrying women draped over their shoulder, odd-ball entrances and exits). The earlier parts seemed like they would have been better served with the women dancers off-pointe, though later Morris uses more conventional ballet steps just slightly askew (e.g., releve passe - sorry, I don't have the little accent thingys - on the beat, then hold the passe an extra half beat and continue with the releves on the off beat). The last section, performed to the title song, was unexpectedly exquisite, almost reverent. Well danced by all and something I really want to see again.

Firebird
Music: Igor Stravinsky
Choreography: Yuri Possokhov
Costumes: Sandra Woodall
Scenic design: Yuri Zhukov
Principal cast: Firebird: Lily Rogers; Prince and Princess: Ruben Martin and Sarah Van Patten; Kaschei: Garret Anderson

A very stylized, somewhat abbreviated telling of the Firebird story (according to Rachel Howard's review in the Chronicle, the Firebird suite is used instead of the full score). I gather this production has come in for something of a critical drubbing, but the audience certainly loved it and the dancers seemed to be having a high old time.

The Prince and Princess are not the expected noble lovers; instead, she's a bit of a Valley Girl by way of Old Russia, and he's just a garden variety jerk. They're shallow and unlikable, and they deserve each other (I give it five years, then divorce court, lawyers involved, who gets the castle...), and while I don't like either of them, that dislike makes it all the more believable that he would dump the Firebird after she helps them escape Kaschei.

Ruben Martin was appropriately caddish and Van Patten gave another superb performance.

Garret Anderson, gotten up like Sid Vicious on a bad nails day, slimed around with plenty of gusto.

In the title role, Lily Rogers beautifully caught the bird-like qualities of the character (without excessive arm flapping, thank heavens). She's a lovely dancer, and I was not a little astonished to discover she's still in the corps de ballet.

Next Saturday, Program 1.

#2 tikititatata

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Posted 03 February 2008 - 09:55 PM

Thanks for starting us off Peggy R! And please, don't undermine your opinions -- we're all allowed to write and express ourselves (we saw it, and felt something), regardless of our day time profession :clapping:

Funny enough, I saw the same show. I went based on the casting that was posted online, but there were several changes... (*ahem*) The webmaster is slacking a bit this season...? By the way, did Vadim Solomakha really partner Yuan Yuan at the end of Nutcracker '07? I was a little confused by that "guest appearance" but didn't attend to verify. Sorry for the aside.

Divertimento #15
I generally despise most things Balanchine, and I say most b/c I'm still waiting to come across that wow-ing piece. Divertimento 15 is a tolerable one for me, and it's a good one for SFB. I thought Kristin Long was rock solid and impeccable in her technique and that's it. I agree w/ Peggy on Katita; other roles suit her better. For this group in particular, their arms can be neater/cleaner.

Drink To Me Only With Thine Eyes
Interesting piece... Haven't read the program notes yet, but was told Morris choreographed this a while back. He sure knows how to pick his cast though -- I went just by the dancers! Oh, the substitution was Ruben Martin for Jaime Garcia Castilla (*sniffle*).

I wasn't completely sold, esp in the beginning. The flip-flop across the floor movement was like an exercise, and I wasn't inspired. I started enjoying it towards the end, and by the time the four couples entered (in the original entrance pose) with the entire cast on stage, it was done... SFB dancers look good doing Morris' choreography, so this is a nice program to have in the mix. One major suggestion would be to change the material of the clingy costumes; not a flattering look, unfortunately, and the crinkles are too obvious since it's white. Also, the arms are inconsistent in the fourth position lunge -- I realize all the dancers have their heads and one arm on the floor, but someone should've mentioned whether the uplifted arm should be 12 o'clock or limp. *PICKY* I know!

Firebird
Didn't see it.

#3 carbro

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Posted 03 February 2008 - 11:45 PM

Drink To Me Only With Thine Eyes
Interesting piece... Haven't read the program notes yet, but was told Morris choreographed this a while back. He sure knows how to pick his cast though . . . .

Morris choreographed Drink in 1988 for ABT. Is it new to SFB?

ABT's website (which does not enable direct links to the blurbs for specific ballets) also notes:

An excerpt from this ballet was given its first performance at the Dancing for Life Benefit at the New York State Theater, NewYork on 10/5/87.



#4 carbro

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Posted 03 February 2008 - 11:46 PM

Drink To Me Only With Thine Eyes
Interesting piece... Haven't read the program notes yet, but was told Morris choreographed this a while back. He sure knows how to pick his cast though . . . .

Morris choreographed Drink in 1988 for ABT. Is it new to SFB?

ABT's website (which does not enable direct links to the blurbs for specific ballets :clapping: ) also notes:

An excerpt from this ballet was given its first performance at the Dancing for Life Benefit at the New York State Theater, NewYork on 10/5/87.



#5 kfw

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Posted 04 February 2008 - 08:19 AM

Divertimento #15
I generally despise most things Balanchine, and I say most b/c I'm still waiting to come across that wow-ing piece. Divertimento 15 is a tolerable one for me, and it's a good one for SFB.

Thanks for writing, tikititatata. :) That's not a wower of a ballet, of course, but it is one that many people find breathtakingly beautiful. You might be interested in what Tom Phillips has to say in Three to Treasure about the ballet and the performance you saw.

#6 printscess

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Posted 04 February 2008 - 09:17 AM

Peggy R,
I enjoyed reading your responses to the ballet. You made it upclose and personal, and you had be laughing, which is always good. I have never seen SFB perform (being on the east coast) but was able to visualize things from the ballet. I must admit it helped knowing the ballets. What I am trying to say is keep writing. I like your style.

#7 ViolinConcerto

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Posted 07 February 2008 - 04:55 AM

Just wanted to include a link to Paul Parish's interesting review in the Bay Area Reporter, which includes some juicy historical information:


in case that doesn't work:
http://www.ebar.com/...amp;article=105


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