Jump to content


SFB Jewels Casting and Reviews


  • Please log in to reply
16 replies to this topic

#1 PeggyR

PeggyR

    Silver Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 640 posts

Posted 21 April 2009 - 07:14 AM

Here's the link for upcoming cast information: Jewels

Casts for the first two performances are posted:

Program 7 - Jewels/Balanchine

Program 7 Opening Night
Saturday, April 25, 2009, 8pm


"EMERALDS"
Conductor: Martin West

Lorena Feijoo, Ruben Martin*
Yuan Yuan Tan, Damian Smith
Frances Chung*, Hansuke Yamamoto, Dana Genshaft*

INTERMISSION

"RUBIES"
Conductor: Martin West
Piano: Michael McGraw

Vanessa Zahorian, Pascal Molat*
Elana Altman

INTERMISSION

"DIAMONDS"
Conductor: Martin West

Sofiane Sylve, Pierre-Francois Vilanoba*

Program 7 Matinee
Sunday, April 26, 2009, 2pm


"EMERALDS"
Conductor: Martin West

Maria Kochetkova*, Nicolas Blanc*
Frances Chung*, Isaac Hernandez*
Dores Andre*, Taras Domitro*, Charlene Cohen*

INTERMISSION

"RUBIES"
Conductor: Martin West
Piano: Michael McGraw

Tina LeBlanc, Joan Boada
Sofiane Sylve

INTERMISSION

"DIAMONDS"
Conductor: Martin West

Sarah Van Patten, Ruben Martin

#2 Helene

Helene

    Administrator

  • Administrators
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 11,022 posts

Posted 21 April 2009 - 07:23 AM

Thank you so much for posting this PeggyR -- I'd worn out my bookmark going back to that page all weekend, trying to see who'd be cast.

What great casting: Sofiane Sylve and Sarah Van Patten in "Diamonds", Elana Altman and Sylve as Tall Girl in Rubies and Tina LeBlanc in the lead, Lorena Feijoo in "Emeralds" -- that would have been my ignorant last guess for her -- and Maria Kotchekova, and Frances Chung (I love her) and Isaac Hernandez, who wowwed me in "Swan Lake" in the second couple.

#3 PeggyR

PeggyR

    Silver Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 640 posts

Posted 21 April 2009 - 07:36 AM

Thank you so much for posting this PeggyR -- I'd worn out my bookmark going back to that page all weekend, trying to see who'd be cast.

What great casting: Sofiane Sylve and Sarah Van Patten in "Diamonds", Elana Altman and Sylve as Tall Girl in Rubies and Tina LeBlanc in the lead, Lorena Feijoo in "Emeralds" -- that would have been my ignorant last guess for her -- and Maria Kotchekova, and Frances Chung (I love her) and Isaac Hernandez, who wowwed me in "Swan Lake" in the second couple.


Helene: I had exactly the same reactions, especially about Feijoo: in 4Ts she looked oddly out of place, but of course Emeralds is a very different style, and she certainly won't be less than interesting.

I'm curious about Elana Altman. As much as I admire her, as a dancer she's very...'contained' is the best word I can think of. It will be interesting to see if she can let loose in the 'tall girl' variation and bring out the sassy humor.

I'm going Saturday night, and then again on May 9 and 10, so I'm hoping to catch the second cast too.

#4 Paul Parish

Paul Parish

    Platinum Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,925 posts

Posted 21 April 2009 - 06:19 PM

I agree, it's brilliant casting.

Let me mention that Yuan Yuan Tan is cast also in Mimi Paul's role in Emeralds, which may be one of the greatest things of all. Tan is not often asked to move like this, but she can do dreamy, and it can be FABULOUS -- much more so than when she's asked to be grand. Some of the best she's ever danced has been the girl in Mauve in Dances at a Gathering, the first girl in "In the Night" (I have never seen that part be so riveting)...

#5 Helene

Helene

    Administrator

  • Administrators
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 11,022 posts

Posted 25 April 2009 - 08:27 PM

I agree, it's brilliant casting.

Let me mention that Yuan Yuan Tan is cast also in Mimi Paul's role in Emeralds, which may be one of the greatest things of all. Tan is not often asked to move like this, but she can do dreamy, and it can be FABULOUS -- much more so than when she's asked to be grand. Some of the best she's ever danced has been the girl in Mauve in Dances at a Gathering, the first girl in "In the Night" (I have never seen that part be so riveting)...

I'm still swooning over Tan.

2nd intermission: Elana Altman just rocked the house as Tall Girl in "Rubies".

#6 Helene

Helene

    Administrator

  • Administrators
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 11,022 posts

Posted 25 April 2009 - 10:54 PM

My immediate context for watching SFB's "Jewels' is the PNB performances earlier this Spring and SFB's "Swan Lake" from just a few weeks ago. The staging is credited to Elyse Borne, with additional coaching by original "Emeralds" leads Violette Verdy and Mimi Paul, who also coached at PNB, and Suzanne Farrell for "Diamonds".

The most noticeable thing at the beginning of "Emeralds" was how dramatic the corps women were, and then, how dramatic Lorena Feijoo was in the Verdy role. There wasn't a narrative, but there was a character, to an extent that I found disconcerting and had never seen in many performances over three decades. I did a double-take when I saw the program for her partner, and thought there was yet another Orza brother, but it was Seth Orza, guesting from PNB. Dramatically, his performance was up several notches, and he made a very handsome partner for Feijoo in the Pas de Deux.

The drama made Feijoo's solo episodic. In the PNB performances, each of the female leads, although quite different, dance them as theme, development, theme, as one long movement, and Yuan Yan Tan did the same in hers, revealing the dance logic, and dancing with warm perfume. Damian Smiths partnering was quietly expressive, and the softness and elegance Tan brought to their Pas de Deux made it the highlight of the ballet for me. Frances Chung, Hansuke Yamamoto, and Dana Genshaft gave a clear and energetic rendition of the Pas de Trois. Genshaft's arms were particularly fine.

"Rubies" opens with Tall Girl front and center, and from the time she started to move, Elana Altman commanded the stage with expansive movement, driving the focus through her, and shaping the role to the final climax. On the one hand, Vanessa Zahorian performed with lightness and charm, but on the other, she danced with a grounding centeredness without a sense of risk, and with dynamic similarity throughout. Her dancing was a bit overwhelmed by Pascal Molat's muscular, dynamic performance. In the first movement, the corps was show-girly, but by the third, they had pulled back just a little, and looked like an organic whole, instead of a group of individuals.

The opening movement of "Diamonds", with its languid pace, was the perfect showcase for a corps that had just finished a run of "Swan Lake": in their arms, shoulders, and heads were the fluidity and polish from the classical work. Lily Rogers and Jennifer Stahl were beautifully matched as the demi-soloists. Joined by Erin McNulty and the superb Elana Altman in the third movement, the quartet danced with grace. The demis and corps in the final movement emphasized the counterpoint and changing patterns.

The leads were Sofiane Sylve and Pierre-Francois Vilanoba. I'd only seen Sylve on the Dutch National Ballet "Sleeping Beauty" DVD, which didn't prepare me for the full force of her dancing live. Although the extensions as choreographed are neoclassical, it was the most classical performance of the ballet I've ever seen, with lovely arms and epaulement and an open upper body. Her legs and phrasing have a creamy quality, and the majesty with which she took her place as a Ballerina was breathtaking. She was stupendous. When she is cast again later in the run, run to see her. (If we can't convince the pilot to drop her off a thousand miles farther north, or if Seth Orza doesn't bring her back in his suitcase.)

#7 PeggyR

PeggyR

    Silver Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 640 posts

Posted 26 April 2009 - 08:48 AM

My only reference points for Jewels are the excerpts on Choreography by Balanchine and POB DVDs; this is the first time I've seen the entire ballet on stage.

...how dramatic Lorena Feijoo was in the Verdy role. There wasn't a narrative, but there was a character, to an extent that I found disconcerting and had never seen in many performances over three decades.

'Dramatic' doesn't begin to describe what Feijoo did. This wasn't a flirty girl, but a mature woman, maybe toying a little with a younger man, enjoying his attention but very much her own woman: he'll be history when she's through with him. I'm not surprised to hear that her interpretation is unusual, but it more than worked for me.

SFB's performance of Rubies left me wondering if POB and SFB were dancing the same ballet: 'chic' vs. 'street', and street is a lot more fun.

...from the time she started to move, Elana Altman commanded the stage with expansive movement...

Altman took charge to the point that I thought Vanessa Zahorian became the secondary female, and that threw the balance off a little. On the other hand, Pascal Molat zipped through with likable verve; at one point he exited the stage turning so fast the audience gasped.

...the majesty with which [Sofiane Sylve] took her place as a Ballerina [in Diamonds] was breathtaking.

No argument there. Despite a fine Myrtha last year, her subsequent performances have left me wondering why she is so highly regarded: capable but not special. Last night Sylve put those doubts to rest; not just flawless but, I suspect, the embodiment of everything Balanchine was trying to say about classical ballet.

If we can't convince the pilot to drop [Sylve] off a thousand miles farther north...

Hands off please; she's ours and we're keeping her :wink: .

#8 Helene

Helene

    Administrator

  • Administrators
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 11,022 posts

Posted 26 April 2009 - 01:00 PM

Zaharian and Karapetyan are in "Diamonds" for Van Patten and Martin. After her original take on Odette/Odile, I was looking forward to Van Patten, but I suspect this is more Zahorian's fach than "Rubies".

#9 Helene

Helene

    Administrator

  • Administrators
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 11,022 posts

Posted 26 April 2009 - 01:55 PM

Pascal Molat replaces Joan Boada in "Rubies" (about to start).

Cliff notes: See this "Emeralds" cast.

#10 Helene

Helene

    Administrator

  • Administrators
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 11,022 posts

Posted 26 April 2009 - 02:34 PM

The powers that be at SFB want to convince us that the rhythmic masterpiece just danced by someone at the height of her power was danced by a 40-something ballerina who's retiring in two weeks.

Yeah, right.

#11 Helene

Helene

    Administrator

  • Administrators
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 11,022 posts

Posted 26 April 2009 - 11:05 PM

Maria Kochetkova danced the Verdy role in "Emeralds" this afternoon, partnered by Nicolas Blanc. She danced the role with extraordinary delicacy and grace. She had her moments of drama, almost all expressed with her neck and shoulders; she would continue to stretch her neck up and back, while the rest of her body moved forward, as if she were pushed in opposite directions. In the ronde de jambes on the diagonal in her solo, she didn't just move from the knee: there was a little frisson in her working foot that sent shivers down my spine. For the most part, though, until the brooding ending, she looked content, fulfilled in her role, which was very lovely to see.

In the graceful, full way she used her upper body she was matched by Blanc. When a figure skater has the skill with a blade, I could watch them do laps of cross-overs. With Blanc, I could watch him walk all afternoon. With every step, his foot kissed the stage. His pirouettes were textbook: not pendantic, but the embodiment of how technique transforms movement: pulled up from the waist with an easy upper body, turned out with generous position, and no sacrifice of style for quantity. That combination of elegance and strength, and the perfect balance of upper and lower body is rare in male dancers.

The Pas de Trois is the breeding ground for women moving into the Mimi Paul role, and Frances Chung was no exception. She can light up the stage in roles that require quick movement and impossible weight changes. This role was a stretch, until the quick light movement of the original final movement, but she rose to the challenge, particularly in the way she shaded her arms and shoulders in the solo. In the Pas de Deux, she was partnered by Isaac Hernandez, who looked like he was concentrating very hard in the beginning, but seemed more at ease as it progressed. Chung's last walking sequence was very Chaconne-like, as if she were walk-swimming through water. I wish I could see their next performance.

The Pas de Trois was my first opportunity to see Taras Domitro. It's not a virtuoso role for the male dancer, but I saw glimpses of what I saw described when SFB performed in NYC, particularly in the original final movement, where during his effortless jetes, he seemed to hang in the air. I can't tell from the program who was Dores Andre and who was Charlene Cohen -- in Swan Lake, there were wigs galore -- but the dancer who did the second solo (Susan Pilarre's in the Dance in America DVD), took a role that often looks thankless to me, and made me look at it with fresh eyes. She had something to say with it, something I think would translate beautifully in the Paul role.

Tina LeBlanc's "Rubies" was extraordinary: her musicality expressed itself into a rhythmically dynamic performance: there was no question who the lead in this ballet was, even with Sofiane Sylve as a lush Tall Girl, and Pascal Molat's strong performance was her foil. She embodied the music. When the casting comes up, if you have to, commit a felony to get a ticket to her next peformance. Sylve dances from stillness; when she flipped her leg behind her with seemingly no preparation, you could feel it, like a whip cracking. Kudos to the male quartet, Martyn Garside, Garen Scribner, James Sofranko, and Hansuke Yamamoto, who were her brilliant foils.

I didn't see Vanessa Zahorian's Odette when SFB performed "Swan Lake", but I did see her Odette this afternoon in "Diamonds". No allusion to Ivanov was missed. It was a very lovely performance, even if I'm not sure it was Balanchine, although it was more so in the third movement solos than in the centerpiece Pas de Deux; there she showed much more of a dynamic range than in "Rubies". In just about every critique I've read, "Diamonds" is considered a relatively weak ballet, and I went along with the bandwagon on this. The Paris Opera Ballet video, with the opening movement, made me re-think this a bit, but watching the SFB corps performance the underrated opening movement, and then seeing the antecedents built into the ballet in Zahorian's performance, building to the last movement, I don't think this anymore.

Davit Karpetyan was a strong partner, and he had lushness in his solos. From last night's third movement quartet, Elana Altman and Erin McNulty gave fine performances as the two demi-soloists in the opening movement, switching with Lily Rogers and Jennifer Stahl from last night. The corps was superb again. I could watch the opening movement several times in a row when it's danced like this.

Luckily, Perry Silvey's decision to light the opening of "Emeralds" and "Rubies" in semi-darkness -- even from the Orchestra -- didn't extend deep into the performance. The set by Tony Walton was odd: a series of Milky Ways of lights on black, the color matching the movement, which then resolved into some shapes that I guess were supposed to be related thematically. It looked a bit like paintings on velvet with a glitter kit. The costumes were Karinska's designs.

I tried to meet up with Paul Parish, but what we ended up doing was conversing over voice mail and email. I realized that there were a few things where we had diametrically different views, and I watching from the Orchestra this afternoon, I realized that where the seats are makes a huge difference in War Memorial, which is not a particularly good ballet house. Even in the Grand Tier, which isn't very high up, the feet don't register nearly as well as they do from the front of the Second Tier, the highest tier, of McCaw Hall in Seattle. From the Orchestra, feet are visible, and the strength and weaknesses, particularly in point work, are front and center. I wish I could have seen the performance simultaneously from both sections, to see if the energy projected (or not) to the Orchestra played to the higher reaches. Paradoxically, the facial expressions in "Rubies" looked less show-bizzy and in "Emeralds" seemed less beaming from the Orchestra today than from the Grand Tier yesterday.

Does Miriam Mahdaviani have a dancing daughter at SFB? In the opening of the first movement of "Diamonds" in the downstage left line, closest to the center, was a short, dark-haired dancer who very much reminded me of her.

My non-ballet notes from SF are that I was thrilled to stay in a hotel with a ceiling fan and windows on two sides that opened for cross-ventilation, and which was a 20-minute walk from the Opera House. Both days were gorgeous, sunny days, and I went to the Ferry Terminal for lunch before heading to check-in. For anyone who is planning to visit, bring minimal cash to the Ferry Terminal, with its rows and rows of vendors. (Because you'll leave with minimal cash.) I got off cheap: a bag of dried nectarines and two apples from the "cosmetically challenged" box. On the way to the hotel, I passed an "End the Fed" rally.

San Francisco is always so hard to leave!

#12 Quiggin

Quiggin

    Gold Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 829 posts

Posted 26 April 2009 - 11:41 PM

I wrote these notes before I read Helene's, so I guess we independently agree that Sunday's was a pretty fine performance.

Jewels notes:

For me Sunday afternoon’s Emeralds was nearly perfect. The corps was more together and more able to sustain their part of the narrative--without smudging figures-- than on Saturday night, and Maria Kochetkova and Nicolas Blanc struck just the right measure and understated tone. Maria would offer these magical changes of tempo or extension that seemed to surprise even her. At least within the context of this production she seemed even more Viola Verdy than Viola Verdy.

The pas de trois was elegantly handled by Dores Andre, Taras Domitro, and Charlene Cohen, though the little wickety-wack, close-to-the-feet jig--a wonderful contrast to all the liquid movement before and after--could have been a little sharpened. Taras miraculously kept all the complicated trains of movement and tunneling on schedule and on the right tracks.

The whole thing seemed expansive and the succession of all the choreograhical ideas had a chance to grow and breathe, all the emptying and filling up, all the balances and checks that are established, dissolved and reestablished. Where Saturday the production seemed “slow”--even a violin solo stalled and fell apart into a sour and old fashioned sliding sound--Sunday it was just right.

A good Emeralds always moves me as much as Apollo does. In Emeralds, in the added ending, there are three Apollos (Isaac Hernadez was the third), and after the corps (the forest) and the ballerinas have gone home, the three men kneel and wait to receive some mysterious and fateful benediction.

*

Rubies was sort of a mess. The last good one I saw was with Gonzalo Garcia who was able to create these great alleyways he could shuttle down and make everything else stand out in relief. In this production I tended to watch Sofiane Sylvie most of all. She is like a rag doll, soft but quick, Petrouska combined with the Siren from Prodigal Son. She did this wonderful sort of nutty stage business I only caught for a moment as she exited stage right while the boys exited stage left huffing and swinging their arms robotlike.

*

Diamonds is too long for one ballerina perhaps, the dancer tires and so does the audience. Vanessa Zahorian and Davit Karapetyan were very good, though I wanted his background leaps to have some passion and be a strong counterpoint to the ballerina’s meditation, less like a softer Peter Martins and more like the brio of the Miami Ballet men... There is a sort of great, out-of-the-corner-of-your-eye corps dancer and for me in Diamonds she and he were Dores Andre, Miriam Rowan, and Quinn Wharton.

#13 Paul Parish

Paul Parish

    Platinum Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,925 posts

Posted 29 April 2009 - 03:37 PM

It just struck me, re Emeralds, that Violette Verdy's last name means "green."

#14 Quiggin

Quiggin

    Gold Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 829 posts

Posted 29 April 2009 - 11:34 PM

I guess I've entered the "green" world pretty completely this week. Emeralds has always been my favorite, for its depth and tragedy. Even its happy movement, the part leading up to the false ending, exudes a sort of underwater, fishy happiness.

Anyway they keep shuffling the deck of roles and tonight, Wednesday, Sofiane Sylve, who was in Diamonds and then Rubies last week, appeared in the second part of Emeralds, while Maria Kochetkova and Taras Domitro were loaned out from Emeralds to Rubies.

What I like about Sofiane Sylve is that her feet, when she is en pointe, have a beautiful knobby outline, like the felty white hammers inside a piano, and in Emeralds they articulate clearly but softly. Also her upper body is balanced with her feet and her limbs represent the all four quadrants equally, like a Leonardo person. She doesn't change tempos as magically as Maria Kochetkova. but there's a sense of just measure to her movements. All the little lacing steps she does in the second solo make you want to intently follow each one intently, "every last word."

What I like about Taras Domitro is the way once he goes into the air he holds his place with a solidity that his slim size wouldn't seem to allow, and when he stretches his arms they make a straight line across his body and you follow them out to the wrists where the line ends in a graceful but firmly articulated splash of fingers. In Rubies he gives his full attention to his partner in a sort of goofy and charming way, and the part where he and Maria Kochetkova. wound and rewound their arms together--like wreaths of stephana--was especially effective and moving.

When you see performances like Sofiane Sylve's and Taras Domitro's and Maria Kochetkova's, they seem like brilliant little Advent calendar window views into soul of the Balanchine productions you're watching.

I took Helene's advice and viewed Diamonds from the upper balcony. (I used to watch it in New York from the fifth ring, straight overhead, just above the orchestra--it was like reading blueprints.) The latter part made more sense this way but the first part was still tedious. Part of the reason perhaps is that the tempos of the Jewels at San Francisco are too languid and overly reverential. They're sappy in Emeralds and Stravinsky would be scandalized about the non-astringency of Rubies.

After Diamonds the usher next to me said, "oh what wonderful schmaltz"...or wonderful (and far too much) marzipan or lemon meringue.

#15 PeggyR

PeggyR

    Silver Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 640 posts

Posted 09 May 2009 - 04:28 PM

I’d thought SFB’s ‘Jewels’ was pretty much a closed issue by now at the end of the season, but I have one more word to say about today’s (May 9) performance of Rubies: electrifying. Lorena Feijoo and Davit Karapetyan caught the rhythms of the music and each other to perfection. Feijoo sizzled; she was funny, sexy, glamorous, teasing, you name it. Karapetyan followed her around like a puppy, lapping it up. They were terrific.

And then there’s Jennifer Stahl. Last Saturday, when Rubies was substituted for Russian Seasons in Program 8, Stahl made her Tall Girl debut. Over on the Program 8 thread, I had commented that Stahl danced nicely enough but without much pizzazz, and frankly, I wasn't much looking forward to seeing her this week. Well, I don’t know what happened since last Saturday, but this Saturday she was sensational. Between Feijoo and Stahl, I’m pretty sure the temperature of the Opera House went up a couple of degrees.

Great show. :D


0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users


Help support Ballet Alert! and Ballet Talk for Dancers year round by using this search box for your amazon.com purchases (adblockers may block display):