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PROGRAM 2 2011

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PROGRAM 2 Opening Night

Thursday, February 03, 2011, 8:00 PM

SYMPHONIC VARIATIONS

Choreography: Sir Frederick Ashton

Conductor: Martin West

Piano: Michael McGraw

Maria Kochetkova*, Gennadi Nedvigin

Frances Chung*, Dana Genshaft*, Jaime Garcia Castilla, Isaac Hernandez*

World Premiere

RAkU Choreography: Yuri Possokhov

Conductor: Martin West

Yuan Yuan Tan*, Damian Smith*, Pascal Molat*

SYMPHONY IN C

Choreography: George Balanchine

Conductor: Martin West

Vanessa Zahorian, Jaime Garcia Castilla

Sofiane Sylve, Tiit Helimets

Frances Chung, Taras Domitro*

Sarah Van Patten, Hansuke Yamamoto

PROGRAM 2 Matinee

Saturday, February 05, 2011, 2:00 PM

SYMPHONIC VARIATIONS

Choreography: Sir Frederick Ashton

Conductor: Martin West

Piano: Michael McGraw

Sarah Van Patten*, Tiit Helimets*

Courtney Elizabeth*, Kimberly Braylock*, Hansuke Yamamoto, Vitor Luiz*

World Premiere

RAkU Choreography: Yuri Possokhov

Conductor: Martin West

Yuan Yuan Tan, Damian Smith, Pascal Molat

SYMPHONY IN C

Choreography: George Balanchine

Conductor: Martin West

Vanessa Zahorian, Vito Mazzeo

Sofiane Sylve, Tiit Helimets

Nicole Ciapponi, Isaac Hernandez

Clara Blanco, Lonnie Weeks*

PROGRAM 2 Evening

Saturday, February 05, 2011, 8:00 PM

SYMPHONIC VARIATIONS

Choreography: Sir Frederick Ashton

Conductor: Martin West

Piano: Michael McGraw

Maria Kochetkova, Gennadi Nedvigin

Frances Chung, Dana Genshaft, Jaime Garcia Castilla, Isaac Hernandez

World Premiere

RAkU

Choreography: Yuri Possokhov

Conductor: Martin West

Yuan Yuan Tan, Damian Smith, Pascal Molat

SYMPHONY IN C

Choreography: George Balanchine

Conductor: Martin West

Lorena Feijoo, Vitor Luiz

Maria Kochetkova*, Joan Boada*

Courtney Elizabeth, Taras Domitro

Sarah Van Patten, Hansuke Yamamoto

PROGRAM 2 Matinee

Sunday, February 06, 2011, 2:00 PM

SYMPHONIC VARIATIONS

Choreography: Sir Frederick Ashton

Conductor: Martin West

Piano: Michael McGraw

Maria Kochetkova, Gennadi Nedvigin

Frances Chung, Dana Genshaft, Jaime Garcia Castilla, Isaac Hernandez

World Premiere

RAkU Choreography: Yuri Possokhov

Conductor: Martin West

Yuan Yuan Tan, Damian Smith, Pascal Molat

SYMPHONY IN C

Choreography: George Balanchine

Conductor: Martin West

Lorena Feijoo, Vitor Luiz

Maria Kochetkova, Joan Boada

Nicole Ciapponi, Taras Domitro

Clara Blanco, Lonnie Weeks

PROGRAM 2 Evening

Tuesday, February 08, 2011, 8:00 PM

SYMPHONIC VARIATIONSChoreography: Sir Frederick Ashton

Conductor: Martin West

Piano: Michael McGraw

Maria Kochetkova, Gennadi Nedvigin

Frances Chung, Dana Genshaft, Jaime Garcia Castilla, Isaac Hernandez

World Premiere

RAkU Choreography: Yuri Possokhov

Conductor: Martin West

Lorena Feijoo*, Daniel Deivison*, Vitor Luiz*

SYMPHONY IN C

Choreography: George Balanchine

Conductor: Martin West

Sarah Van Patten, Vito Mazzeo

Sofiane Sylve, Tiit Helimets

Courtney Elizabeth, Pascal Molat

Nicole Ciapponi, Lonnie Weeks

PROGRAM 2 Evening

Wednesday, February 09, 2011, 7:30 PM

SYMPHONIC VARIATIONS

Choreography: Sir Frederick Ashton

Conductor: Martin West

Piano: Michael McGraw

Sarah Van Patten, Tiit Helimets

Courtney Elizabeth, Kimberly Braylock, Hansuke Yamamoto, Isaac Hernandez

RAkU Choreography: Yuri Possokhov

Conductor: Martin West

Lorena Feijoo, Daniel Deivison, Vitor Luiz

SYMPHONY IN C

Choreography: George Balanchine

Conductor: Martin West

Vanessa Zahorian, Vito Mazzeo

Sofiane Sylve, Tiit Helimets

Nicole Ciapponi, Gennadi Nedvigin

Elana Altman, Anthony Spaulding

PROGRAM 2 Evening

Friday, February 11, 2011, 8:00 PM

SYMPHONIC VARIATIONS

Choreography: Sir Frederick Ashton

Conductor: Martin West

Piano: Michael McGraw

Maria Kochetkova, Gennadi Nedvigin

Frances Chung, Dana Genshaft, Jaime Garcia Castilla, Isaac Hernandez

RAkU

Choreography: Yuri Possokhov

Conductor: Martin West

Lorena Feijoo, Daniel Deivison, Vitor Luiz

SYMPHONY IN C

Choreography: George Balanchine

Conductor: Martin West

Sarah Van Patten, Vito Mazzeo

Sofiane Sylve, Tiit Helimets

Frances Chung, Pascal Molat

Nicole Ciapponi, Lonnie Weeks

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Hmm......looks like an interesting program. Have no idea what RAkU will be like of course, but to have Ashton and Balanchine masterpieces as bookends ain't bad!

And kudos to SFB for presenting an Ashton piece. Some of the other "children of Balanchine" companies here in the US get a deer in the headlights look if they are asked about presenting Ashton, who was after all, one of the great choreographers of the 20th century.

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"Symphony in C" in San Francisco is very good but isn't whipped up into the meringue this ballet should be. And there are too many smiles, like too many explanation marks!!! And every new entrance really should be a game changer.

Vito Mazzeo and Vanessa Zahorian however did a deeply moving and elegant second movement last Saturday - in the league of Julie Diana and Vadim Solomakha, whom I always remember as the standard in San Francisco - along with Gonzalo Garcia in the first movement (whose influence and great example seem to have disappeared without a trace from SFB, in a dispensable California sort of way). Of course Taras Domitro did a great third movement with thrillingly coherent turns, but his great interpretive skills somehow seemed lost in that role.

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"Symphonic Variations" and its wonderful Andrew Marvell green backdrop is always a treat to see, though less good this year. The 2004 production with Elizabeth Miner, Joan Boada, Nicholas Blanc, and Julie Diana might have been the tightest and the best.

Wendy Ellis Soames who was here to coach said the clue to SV was of the dancers being like "heavenly bodies", a comment that was touching but a little abstract. Perhaps saying something like your cell phone is ringing in you pocket and you can't answer it for five minutes or you have to pretend you don't care at all about the person who's sitting across from you on the bus after school, they don't matter in the least - or something like might be more helpful to get an American take on the Ashton idiom.

Anyway with "Symphonic Variations" there's this unspeakable undertow and a kind of brittle articulation on top - hand movements like the tick or escapement of a watch (as in the "Emeralds" second pas de deux). Like the "pickety pickety" picket-fence movement Wendy Soames talked about.

Only Sarah Van Patten - like Jean Shrimpton in a David Bailey photograph - got this and made her part seem like the most natural thing in the world. Isaac Hernandez, who is always wonderful to watch for little extra classical flourishes, couldn't seem find his place in the counts, and Maria Kochetkova and Gennadi Nedvigin danced their parts in a blithe Russian spirit.

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"RAkU" is a mess of too many worthy intentions and influences in a small space - like a facebook page of favorite links. I had trouble with the mix of various orientalisms, and the violence (either a rape by four soldiers or a scene out of "Dune") and the strange combination of the heroine pouring the ashes of a dead warrior over her head and then being bathed in a spotlight of snowflakes that - no matter how hard you tried not to - you couldn't help associate with those from "Nutcracker."

Good art - very good art - can be made out of the simplest of materials.

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does this comment about SYMPHONIC VARIATIONS:

<<its wonderful Andrew Marvell green backdrop is always a treat to see,>>

mean that SV at SFB uses a new design? or does the credit to Marvell refer to his execution of Sophie Fedorvitch's usual, original, 'greenish' surround accented by thin black lines, consistently used for stagings of Ashton's ballet in London and elsewhere?

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rg:

does this comment about SYMPHONIC VARIATIONS ... mean that SV at SFB uses a new design?

It's the same great original backdrop - maybe I should have said key lime green - but I liked the association with Marvell since he had so much to say about the color. In her pre-curtain talk Wendy Ellis Soames said that SV is about Primavera - that Ashton and Sophie Fedorvitch bicycled to the top of hill one spring day just after the war and Ashton said this, spreading out his arm towards the landscape, is the color I want. She also said Ashton had listened to a the recording of the Franck score when he was in the military services on shellac discs - the clicks perhaps helping with the counts or internal structure. Anyway, I thought it might have better helped the dancers had the music been conducted in the rhythmically dry French style that Virgil Thomson discusses in one of his essays on the differences between German and French conducting.

Fugitive lines - Symphonic Variations verso - San Francisco Ballet

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I'm not sure which Saturday show you saw, but I would guess the evening show based on the casting. I saw the Saturday evening show as well, and the company looked much, much better on Sunday. Symphonic Variations was a mess on Saturday night, but when Kochetkova returned on Sunday (she'd been sick and replaced in her roles in Symphonic and 2nd movement Symphony on Saturday night by SVP and Zahorian respectively) with Gennadi Nedvigin, the trio of couples danced at a higher level and were dancing together. Saturday night had a few deer-in-the-headlights moments.

For me, Symphony in C though excitingly danced and full of spirit (especially Sunday), was lacking in uniformity of style. You could see lots of mismatched port de bras and epaulement.

I agree that RAkU needs a lot of editing. It was an overwrought mess that has potential hidden under all of the things going on.

--Andre

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I liked RAkU. Yes, it is a complicated, multi-media event, a product of the Digital Age. Yes, it does have violence, but how could it not? Its subject matter is the deliberate destruction of a world heritage cultural site. And the violence does have an erotic source, an eroticism brilliantly illuminated by the Feijoo/Deivison/Luiz cast, as well as by the four Corps warriors. If ballet is to survive as a living art form, it must offer more than a Nineteenth Century view of the human condition.

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If ballet is to survive as a living art form, it must offer more than a Nineteenth Century view of the human condition.

Not my view, but I liked this... :)

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The dancers of RAkU are great, both casts, but I couldn't find the units - the parts of choreographic speech - in the pas de deux between the monk and the widow. Plus for me the stagecraft still overwhelms the subject. Think of what Noguchi did with such simple tools in "Orpheus" - or what Mizoguchi does in his films on similar subjects. And why does the woman always have to be the victim of "erotic violence," symbolic or not?

it must offer more than a Nineteenth Century view of the human condition.

A great nineteenth century ballet on the human condition could be an Alexei Ratmansky version of Gogol's "Dead Souls" with Mark Zuckerberg as Chichikov, enigmatically going from village to village buying up and trafficing in the traces of our small pleasures - our "Likes" or "Diggs"- or our "Play-bor," as they call it at the New School. (Or as Zadie Smith characterizes our condition - "500 million sentient people entrapped in the recent careless thoughts of a Harvard sophomore.")

Or a low tech staging of a "You Tube" like version of Petrushka or Pulcinella with various sized square discs sewn to Harlequin costumes to represent small and large units of digital compression (those mosaic blocks of empty background) - choreographed by Michael Clark or Mark Morris - along the lines of what Richard Foreman did at the Ontological Hysterical Theater in the eighties.

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Addendum: Pascal Molat was in top form in both RAkU and Symphony in C and Sofiane Sylve did a wonderful second act S in C, full of lots of great subsidiary detail (Friday).

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Added after seeing today's NYT review - as an example of a ballet done with the simplest of means - 1964 version of Cunningham Septet:

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-8748661616907155481#

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