Memo

San Francisco Ballet in Costa Mesa, California

22 posts in this topic

I had such a good time tonight! My feelings about tonight's performance pretty much echo the review given by the LATimes today. Much as I hate to agree with the Times, I do. Possokhov's "Fusion" began the night. Not all of the ballet struck my fancy, but the SFBallet dancers are sooo good that it was a joy just watching them. The central pas de deux was beautiful; I was never sure whom I was seeing but I'm going to guess the woman was Vanessa Zahorian. I thought that nothing could dim the memory of this pas de deux until I got into Wheeldon's "Within the Golden Hour"; now all I remember about it is my reaction. "Within the Golden Hour" started badly for me; lots of writhing on the floor, almost as deadly as ballets with chairs. There was then a series of pas de deuxs. The 2nd pas de deux was beyond words; truly a thing of beauty: shapes (almost like a Grecian urn) and poses and classic ballet shown at its best ... all of this flowing one movement to the other. I'm guessing it was Dana Genshaft and Mateo Klkemmayer The 3rd pas de deux was almost as good. The final moment of the ballet had everyone seated on the floor performing the most surprisingly beautiful undulations. "The Four Temperaments" was the final ballet. It was not a good idea to have this ballet follow the other 2; the differences in style are too great and it was hard to shift gears and give 4T's it's due.

A wonderful night! Adding to it was sharing the evening with my seat mates of many years. We've had mixed schedules and haven't seen each other for quite a while; it was a reunion! It also dulled the memory of a horrid day of termite inspectors, dead car, and tow truck.

I'm going again Sat. night, and though I thought I'd be seeing the alternative program I'll see this one again. The cast will be slightly different; I'm looking forward to comparisons.

Did I mention that I had a good time tonight?

Giannina

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I was there Thursday night and loved it. (the fact that my kid made is professional debut did enhance the evening) I have not seen SFB for 5 years and was not so impressed when I saw it then. I had heard great things and quite honestly I was thrilled with the quality of the dancing and the energy of the company. First of all I really enjoyed Possokov's piece "Fusion" and being someone who made a cultural change as a young dancer I really related to the theme and the direction it took the audience. I agree with Giannina that I did not love all of it but there were many moments that were truly beautiful and the quality of the performances was so so strong. There seemed to be no ego's on the stage. Everyone working as a group, not trying to outdo each other but to bring truth to the material.

I have NEVER seen the 4 temperaments but after seeing so many photographs of it I was having flashing images in my mind as they reached several positions during the piece that were so familiar. I wonder if it might have been more meaningful to have seen the 4 T's at the beginning of the program and then seeing the more current material and understand what contemporary ballet and contemporary choreographers have drawn from the Balanchine innovations in choreography.

Very good crowd for a Thursday night and very appreciative. I was also with a group surrounded by friends, and it was a lot of fun. Am going again Sunday at 2pm.

I was really hoping to see Sofiane Sylvie she was originally on the program for Thursday but then it got changed. Maybe Giannina you will see her Sat night. Please give an update. I am sorry i am going to miss her. She is a favorite of mine.

I had a good time too.

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Memo, how exciting about your son! I snooped around and found out who he is. I actually remember him ... first couple in 4T's "Theme" section, right? I always watch the woman more than the man but I did watch his lifts which he did very well. Hope he dances tonight; I'll keep an eye on him if I can find him!

Giannina

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Yes Giannina that was him, extremely nerve wracking to go on for the first time with that kind of responsibility but he seemed up for it. Plus never doing it with the orchestra or with lighting. He dances again on Sunday matinee, hence me driving once more to the OC to see it. I would love to see the other program sadly time does not permit.

:)

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Dang! No ballet tonight! I live in Brea and parts of the city are burning. Our cars are packed in case we have to evacuate and I can't bear to leave the house under these circumstances. I'm sure we'll be fine but I want to make sure. Thank heavens I got to go Thurs.; SFBallet is a treat not to be missed.

Giannina

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Our thoughts are with you, Giannina, and your neighbors. Take care of yourselves.

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O Giannina,

Readiness is best. I hope all goes well, but -- well, i remember the Oakland fire. Indeed, WE have had huge winds most of hte day here in Berkeley and last night coming out of Merce Cunningham I saw a student throw away a burning cigarette and make a feeble attempt to stub it out and finished hte job for her after she'd walked on -- . It was like mkaing hte sign of hte cross before crossing he bridge, just saying my little prayer, but we're not out of danger here yet either (though hte winds have died down). You need to be ready to boogey if y'all have to -- And God knows, I hope you don't have to. Love, Paul

Dang! No ballet tonight! I live in Brea and parts of the city are burning. Our cars are packed in case we have to evacuate and I can't bear to leave the house under these circumstances. I'm sure we'll be fine but I want to make sure. Thank heavens I got to go Thurs.; SFBallet is a treat not to be missed.

Giannina

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almost as deadly as ballets with chairs.

I had to giggle at this -- I've certainly seen many dances, ballet and otherwise, using chairs, and admit that I get a bit edgy when I see another chair on stage. I've been pleasantly surprised by some, but not as many as I could wish.

And good thoughts to everyone in So. Cal. right now. We've been having big rains up here in the Northwest (very usual for this time of year) with flooding and mudslides. We're in between systems right now, but I wish I could send some of the moisture your way.

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As a former So.Cal. gal ('SC alum too) I remember a few fires, and Santa Anas, and smoke so thick the freeways were closed or very slow going (once had to open my door so I could see the lines on a road). My thoughts are with all residents and hope all goes well.

PET PEEVE: I have NO sympathy for smokers, the epitome of self-centered, inconsiderate behavior. And thanks to all the kind, thoughtful, people who prevent their damage from spreading beyond them.

Random observation: I used to think it was good to be poor in S. California...If you lived in the more ritzy hills/canyons you had to worry about fires, then when the rainy season came, you had to worry about mudslides because the fires burned away all the trees/undergrowth that held the soil. And if you lived on the coast, the winter storms (El Nino, or El Nina) washed your house into the sea. If you lived in Malibu you had to worry about all three, usually simultaneously.

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I saw both Saturday programs yesterday, and felt fortunate that the fires didn't affect my plans. It was odd to go out at intermission and see smoke turn the sky gray-orange.

Anyway, for the program itself, I was disappointed. The dancers are beautiful (OMG Nutnaree's feet!), but the choreography didn't live up to them. Short, probably unfair impressions:

Helgi's 5th season: cheesy, insipid music (by Karl Jenkins of diamond music fame ie. Palladio) with mechanically soulless movement. Totally forgettable, except for a nice pas in the middle for Katita and Davit.

Morris's Joyride: loved the Adams score, and Pascal Molat had a scorching solo as the guy in the short gold unitard, and clever and occasionally musical choreography, but it didn't hang together, and seemed entirely pointless.

Elo's Double Evil: goofy piece with the guys doing commercial jazz dance in jazz outfits, and the girls in classical tutus occasionally doing jazz isolations along with ballet. It reminds me of expensive restaurants trying to spiff up comfort foods, like high-end mac-n-cheese. Elo's piece looked like expensive competition dance.

Possokhov's Fusion: it's like a modern version of those jingoistic czarist ballets about the far east with stereotypes that appeal to the contemporaneous views (eg. La Bayadere). There was a really nice pas, and the lighting and set design were beautiful and worked well together, but his fusion of the dervish dancers with contemporary ballet didn't work, and felt forced at times. For example, at the end, the ballet dancers adopt the dervish vocab (basically jazz torso isolations), and that felt trite since there was no buildup to it.

Wheeldon's Within the Golden Hour: clever, beautiful, soulless. He has this trick of showing us his cleverest move right at the end as the curtains come down or the lights go dark, making me wish he'd started with that trick, and expanded on it. The loden green couple's pas that ended in the woman being manipulated as a kite was breathtaking, but isolated as a trick. He has a lot of talent, but doesn't seem to have anything to say.

Balanchine's 4Ts: it was remarkable watching this last, as none of the preceding pieces had advanced the art beyond (or even approached) this 62-year old piece. However, I didn't like SFB's dancing of it: too legato, smooth, and lacking in personality or a point-of-view. Everything was weighted the same. In many ways I preferred LA Ballet's performance of it, even if it was done with more modest technical means, which had more dirt, more roughness, and more physicality.

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Possokhov's Fusion: it's like a modern version of those jingoistic czarist ballets about the far east with stereotypes that appeal to the contemporaneous views (eg. La Bayadere). There was a really nice pas, and the lighting and set design were beautiful and worked well together, but his fusion of the dervish dancers with contemporary ballet didn't work, and felt forced at times. For example, at the end, the ballet dancers adopt the dervish vocab (basically jazz torso isolations), and that felt trite since there was no buildup to it.

I agree that the pdd was lovely. I found the "dervish dancers" intrusive but then realized they probably were supposed to be!

Wheeldon's Within the Golden Hour: clever, beautiful, soulless. He has this trick of showing us his cleverest move right at the end as the curtains come down or the lights go dark, making me wish he'd started with that trick, and expanded on it.

I couldn't agree more; I found that bit surprisingly impressive.

The loden green couple's pas that ended in the woman being manipulated as a kite was breathtaking, but isolated as a trick. He has a lot of talent, but doesn't seem to have anything to say.

I don't know if we're referring to the same pdd. It was the 2nd pdd of the 3 and, manipulation or not I found it gorgeous.

Could you tell me who danced the passages to which we've referred? I really hated to miss it.

Giannina

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My memory is fuzzy, but for Fusion, the pas was Sarah van Patten and probably Damian Smith, or maybe Gennadi Nedvigin.

Within the Golden Hour was Sarah and Pierre-Francois Vilanoba. In the pas, at the end, he sat down with his legs straight in front of him, and held one of her legs while she leaned forward and down, almost touching the ground as she curled back up. The foot of her other leg, which acted like a pivot, was held in the crook of his two feet which were in a V, like first position in ballet.

--Andre

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Yes, Andre; that's the pas de deux I liked so much. van Patten had a busy night!

Thanks.

Giannina

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It's wonderful to read about these performances (though NOT about the fires). Giannina, I agree with you that it's unfortunate to put 4 Temperaments third and last on this bill -- or any bill indeed. Miami put it between the Balanchine Swan Lake and Tharp's upper Room, and it was perfect placement.

Andre and others: More on the Morris piece would be wonderful. Somehow, as a big Morris fan, I find it hard to imagine one of his works as being "pointless," and I wonder how this impression was created. Could you elaborate?

The thoughts and prayers of many of us here in Hurricane Country are with you in southern California.

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Bart,

Thanks for your kind wishes for the victims of the fires here in California. It's kind of unbelievable how quickly those houses were all destroyed. Thank goodness there haven't been very many injuries or deaths.

About SFB, I admit that I am not Mark Morris's biggest fan, and have yet to see a piece of his that I actually like. My problem is the apparent musical slavishness of his choreography where the movement apes the gross surface details of the music, and doesn't seem to say anything deeper than that. Compare his abstract dances to Balanchine's abstract pieces, and Balanchine either brings something new to the music, or has such density of inventiveness in his movement that the music ends up illustrating the dance. Either way, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

Joyride was more of the same. There were intermittently clever bits, especially how he moved groups around and how they changed formations in surprising ways, but in the end, he didn't really tell me anything about the music or anything else.

--Andre

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Thanks, Andre, for your reply.

I delight in most Morris but have to agree that he tends to sail across the "surface" of the music and moe often than note reflects the rhythms a little too directly. Balanchine, as you says, does force the attentive viewer/listener to respond to the music on a deeper level. After multiple back-to-back performances of his Swan Lake and 4T's this weekend, I feel I've "seen" aspects of familiar scores I've never seen/heard before.

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Now that things have calmed down I want to join Andre in thanking all of you for your concern during the So. CA fires. My family and I are fine. If nothing else it's been a learning experience, i.e. you can't load 50 albums into a stripped van and expect them to stay put while the van's in motion.

Giannina

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Glad you are OK Giannina.
Yes indeed. Since going through 3 hurricanes (directly over the house) a couple of seasons ago, i've come to respect deeply the spirit and bounce-back qualities of human beings (pets, too) -- even the civilians who are NOT obsessed with ballet. :wink:

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Joyride may seem delightful some day. The mathematics of it is mostly what I've gotten so far, and the brilliantly sculptural things they do.

But Morris CAN make ballets that are deeply mysterious -- I wish the rest of the world could see his "Maelstrom," and have more than one chance to see it, for it's really wonderful, casts a powerful spell, and continues to reveal secrets every time you see it. It would be a MAJOR addition to the rep of ABT Kirov, Bolshoi. Tomasson brings it back periodically, not often enough for me. I could see it again and again and not get tired.

I also wish some ballet companies would take on soft-shoe pieces of his like "The Office," the "folk-dance" piece he made to Dvorak with a Tontine format -- it's really great, deceptively simple but made to last for all time.

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