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Program 6 2011Ghosts, 7 For 8, Chroma


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#1 sf_herminator

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Posted 07 April 2011 - 10:40 PM

Casting for the first 4 performances of Program 6 (http://www.sfballet....ng.asp#43681122)



PROGRAM 6 Opening Night
Thursday, April 07, 2011, 8:00 PM


GHOSTS
Choreographer: Christopher Wheeldon
Composer: C.F. Kip Winger
Conductor: Martin West

Maria Kochetkova, Vitor Luiz
Sofiane Sylve, Tiit Helimets, Quinn Wharton*

INTERMISSION

7 FOR EIGHT
Choreographer: Helgi Tomasson
Composer: Johann Sebastian Bach
Conductor: Martin West

Yuan Yuan Tan, Tiit Helimets
Vanessa Zahorian, Gennadi Nedvigin
Dores Andre, Joan Boada
Elizabeth Miner, Jaime Garcia Castilla

INTERMISSION

SF Ballet Premiere
CHROMA
Choreographer: Wayne McGregor
Composer: Joby Talbot, Jack White III
Conductor: Martin West

Maria Kochetkova*, Jaime Garcia Castilla*
Frances Chung*, Pascal Molat*
Yuan Yuan Tan*, Taras Domitro*
Dana Genshaft*, Anthony Spaulding*
Isaac Hernandez*, Garen Scribner*



PROGRAM 6 Matinee
Saturday, April 09, 2011, 2:00 PM


7 FOR EIGHT
Choreographer: Helgi Tomasson
Composer: Johann Sebastian Bach
Conductor: Martin West

Sarah Van Patten*, Tiit Helimets
Nicole Ciapponi*, Hansuke Yamamoto*
Clara Blanco, Vitor Luiz*
Koto Ishihara*, Lonnie Weeks*

INTERMISSION

GHOSTS
Choreographer: Christopher Wheeldon
Composer: C.F. Kip Winger
Conductor: Martin West

Yuan Yuan Tan, Damian Smith
Lorena Feijoo, Ruben Martin Cintas*, Vitor Luiz

INTERMISSION


CHROMA

Choreographer: Wayne McGregor
Composer: Joby Talbot, Jack White III
Conductor: Martin West

Sofiane Sylve*, Vito Mazzeo*
Lorena Feijoo*, James Sofranko*
Vanessa Zahorian*, Tiit Helimets*
Sarah Van Patten*, Daniel Deivison-Oliveira*
Lonnie Weeks*, Luke Willis*




PROGRAM 6 Evening
Saturday, April 09, 2011, 8:00 PM


7 FOR EIGHT
Choreographer: Helgi Tomasson
Composer: Johann Sebastian Bach
Conductor: Martin West

Yuan Yuan Tan, Damian Smith
Vanessa Zahorian, Gennadi Nedvigin
Dores Andre, Joan Boada
Elizabeth Miner, Jaime Garcia Castilla

INTERMISSION


GHOSTS
Choreographer: Christopher Wheeldon
Composer: C.F. Kip Winger
Conductor: Martin West

Maria Kochetkova, Vitor Luiz
Sofiane Sylve, Tiit Helimets, Quinn Wharton

INTERMISSION

CHROMA
Choreographer: Wayne McGregor
Composer: Joby Talbot, Jack White III
Conductor: Martin West

Maria Kochetkova, Jaime Garcia Castilla
Frances Chung, Pascal Molat
Yuan Yuan Tan, Taras Domitro
Dana Genshaft, Anthony Spaulding
Isaac Hernandez, Garen Scribner




PROGRAM 6 Evening
Tuesday, April 12, 2011, 8:00 PM


7 FOR EIGHT

Choreographer: Helgi Tomasson
Composer: Johann Sebastian Bach
Conductor: Martin West

Sarah Van Patten, Tiit Helimets
Nicole Ciapponi, Taras Domitro
Clara Blanco, Vitor Luiz
Koto Ishihara, Lonnie Weeks

INTERMISSION

GHOSTS
Choreographer: Christopher Wheeldon
Composer: C.F. Kip Winger
Conductor: Martin West

Yuan Yuan Tan, Damian Smith
Sofiane Sylve, Tiit Helimets, Quinn Wharton

INTERMISSION

CHROMA
Choreographer: Wayne McGregor
Composer: Joby Talbot, Jack White III
Conductor: Martin West

Maria Kochetkova, Jaime Garcia Castilla
Frances Chung, Pascal Molat
Yuan Yuan Tan, Taras Domitro
Dana Genshaft, Anthony Spaulding
Isaac Hernandez, Garen Scribner

* Denotes premiere in role.

Casting subject to change.

#2 Andre Yew

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Posted 14 April 2011 - 11:29 AM

I saw programs 6 and 7 this weekend, and was disappointed. Program 6 starts with Wheeldon's Ghosts, continues with Helgi's 7 for 8, and concludes with McGregor's Chroma (which was the main reason why I saw this program).

Ghosts seems like a typical Wheeldon ballet: full of clever, well-crafted choreography and some really novel moments, but is soulless and ultimately says nothing. A lot of promise, but no satisfaction. I really liked the slightly unfurling kinetic sculture on stage, and I wish he'd done more with it.

As a non-fan of Helgi's choreography, 7 for 8 was surprisingly unawful. It's a great showpiece for the strong men of SFB, but lacking a bit for the women, with their choreography looking like the greatest hits of Balanchine.

Chroma was perhaps the greatest disappointment, because of the high expectations set when I saw SFB do Eden/Eden. I've seen this piece a couple of times before with the Royal Ballet, as well as the video just released, and the SFB dancers looked tentative and perhaps a bit tired. Someone said that this might have been the same cast as the afternoon --- I saw the evening show on 6 on Saturday. There was no intensity, and no real phrasing: just the generic legato ballet phrasing. The one exception was Lorena Feijoo who brought intensity to an unfortunately small part. They looked like a regional company struggling with the choreography. One of the few bright spots was the performance of the orchestra, who were fantastic.

I'll wait for a program 7 thread to post my impressions, but it was pretty disappointing, too.

#3 Quiggin

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Posted 14 April 2011 - 03:19 PM

It’s interesting to hear Andre's assessment of San Francisco’s “Chroma” compared to the British production, especially in regards to tone. Thursday’s first night was performance very much together and electrifying while that cast's second performance Tuesday seemed less so - though Jaime Garcia Castilla on Tuesday seemed especially free and brilliant. Saturday’s schedule was changed so that the afternoon cast also did the evening performance. Some members are dancing several other pieces in Programs 6 & 7 that call on different muscle groups and which demand fairly different styles. Sofiane Sylve and Pascal Molat recently pointed out, in a pre-performance talk, the difficulty of making these switches.

I liked “Chroma” - it seems to begin where “Symphonic Variations” left off, in a style of the future - maybe with a bit of Merce Cunningham hardness to it - starting out with four or five dancers dancers at the left side with their backs to the audience. Other dancers dissolve and reappear over a letterbox proscenium that looks like a floating Mies van der Rohe pavilion with less divine proportions, but a similar purist austerity (I went to college for a year in Mies’ Crown Hall where I dissolved in and out of classes, so I felt right at home). McGregor’s chromas were a Max Factor makeup box of light flesh tones while Wheeldon’s Number Nine on the other program seemed to pop out of a paint box of primary colors (and movements): two yellows, a mauve, chrome red, blue-green etc., each costume set against a cyclorama of its opposite. The corps in yellow, the color of laughter?, were especially effective.

#4 Andre Yew

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Posted 14 April 2011 - 07:42 PM

Quiggin, now you've made wish even more that I'd seen the other cast! For me, one of the main characteristics of McGregor's work is sort of a reflection of modern urbanism: a jagged eclecticism glued together in one unlikely entity. I think of walking through a city --- for example, in San Francisco, walking from SoMa through the Tenderloin to Nob Hill. There are jarring, sudden changes between different groups of people that somehow define the city. The borders are visible and jagged, but somehow they still feel organic, like they're where they're supposed to be.

You don't see this as much in Chroma, though it is there. Sometimes it's expressed across time where a dancer will be doing something almost classical and then switch to something else different, and other times across space: dancers across the stage may be doing very different things. And sometimes contained within one body: one arm may be expressing a classical port de bras, while the head is doing his jutting bird neck thing, and the legs are doing something else. You see this in Infra more, and I think Entity (a recent piece set on Random Dance, his own company) expresses it most clearly.

One of my favorite moments in Entity is near the end when there is a pas de deux, and I see what I think are vignettes from various stages of a relationship all kind of juxtaposed together in time and space. You can also see various classical elements burst forth, and then withdraw and transform into contemporary movement, which then transforms again. It's like a pulsing, living amorphous blob of dance which is fracturing and shattering in all directions trying to say 10 things at a time. I hope that kind of conveys the feeling of what I see in his work.

SFB was missing most of that on Saturday night. Instead, we got a neutered, "safe" version that didn't express any of that. The jagged phrasing was all smoothed over, and much of the effect of his work was lost for me.

#5 Quiggin

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Posted 15 April 2011 - 01:14 PM

Andre, thanks for your helpful close reading of "Chroma" - and of San Francisco neighborhoods, which do each retain their own particular idiorythmic characteristics, despite the current push for change and proposed watering down of historic preservation protections. What did you think - or anyone else think - of the two Wheeldons (if this topic can be stretched to accomodate both programs 6 & 7 which are being danced on alternate nights)?

#6 Andre Yew

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Posted 15 April 2011 - 06:14 PM

Quiggin, I did not enjoy Number 9, the new Wheeldon work, very much. The color design was beautiful, and the best part of the whole piece. I thought it looked thrown together, and way too busy, with no time for the eye to rest. There are other ballets, like Artifact Suite, which demand high mental and visual engagement, but Number 9 was just monotonous. Not just boring, but the same in tone and feeling throughout with very little contrast. It didn't even have very clever staging or steps like Ghosts did. It looked like something an artistic director might throw together to fill up some idle time in a big story ballet. If you've seen Wheeldon's fairly terrible Garland Waltz for the Sleeping Beauty, it's like that.

I think Possokhov's Classical Symphony is a far more successful essay at this style of work (abstract, upbeat, effervescent crowd pleaser).

#7 Paul Parish

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Posted 15 April 2011 - 11:24 PM

Thanks, Andre, and Quiggin, both for your discussion of these new ballets.

I share your concerns; here's what I wrote about htem for the SF gay weekly, the BayArea Reporter:

'To see the kind of show that’s making SFB famous abroad [i.e. mixed bills of new works], you should check out SFB’s Programs 6 and 7, which opened at the Opera House last weekend and will run there through Wednesday of next week. Both are mixed bills of new work – the oldest , Petrouchka, was a sensation in Paris exactly one hundred years ago....

THe other ballets on the programs are all 21st-century. Two of them are brand-new to us, and one was just made a few months ago for these dancers, who have taken to it like a hungry man to a steak. This ballet, NUMBER NINE (by Christopher Wheeldon) sweeps across the stage like a series of storms, scouring the eyes and leaving you feeling braced and enormously refreshed and wondering what just happened to you. The other ballet, Chroma, new to us, comes from London (where it won the Lawrence Olivier Prize at its debut 5 years ago) and looks at first viewing like a sci-fi version of the blues, like Etta James’s “I feel uneasy” [http://www.youtube.c...?v=tW-DeWNjyAw] set in motion and articulated by a new multi-racial breed of dancer, possessed of finest motor skills on the planet.

“Number Nine” (I do not know why it's called that; it is Wheeldon’s 7th ballet created for SFB) sends 24 dancers moving at a mad rush to the drastically propulsive music of Michael Torke's Ash. It's virtually a disco beat, unrelenting, with the major displacements in decibel levels and tone color. It’s the kind of beat that can drive a night-club crowd into trance (and the audience was screaming at the end). The dancers on opening night were fantastically alert -- they had to be, the moves are so sharp, so clear, so risky. There are places where streams of dancers move through colonnades of other dancers like water through a hydro-electric dam, or set up a line of sculptured forms 1-2-3-4-5-6, just like that, all pointing like bird-dogs at the same place) and then the whole set up dissolves, the stage empties, and more rush on. Or at least I think I saw that -- each new image scrubs the last one off the mind, which leaves you exhilarated, breathless, and remembering only the colors -- lemony gold for the 16 corps dancers, turquoise, carmine, key-lime for the principals. The strongest after-image I have left, and the only one I'm certain of, is the gorgeous Myles Thatcher poised like the Nike of Samothrace, center-stage, in the opening tableau.

THe new Wheeldon piece closes program 7. His last-but-one ballet, Ghosts, formed the opening of program 6 and turned out to be the most satisfying of all the works. It gives a great role to the ballerina Sofiane Sylve, a sovereign diva whose majestically objective dancing is matched by a generosity of spirit that makes her a presiding presence over this melancholy, silvery slow-motion wonder. The dancers’ bodies sink and subside, float, are eddied about, like the passengers ofhte Titanic seen through to the end from the perspective of the gods, as a cosmic event.

The other new- to-us ballet, Chroma, closes that program. Chroma also looks at human life from a compassionate but remote distance. Wayne MacGregor has made this piece to Stravinskian re-orchestrations of the “alternative-rock” music of The White Stripes (Jody Talbot, re-composer). He uses very strange, bird-like movements that nevertheless seem totally appropriate to the searing, fascinating music coming from the orchestra (brilliantly led by Martin West). This is not typical ballet. It's as if he tried to ignore the bones and made hte moves come from the viscera, from very deep inside, as if the spine were a snake, or a swan’s neck – it’s not pretty, but it IS fascinating. Seen against the vast off-white stage setting -- itself a monumental piece of architecture, designed by John Pawson -- the dancers look very vulnerable. They’re wearing very little, some kind of
underwear, “short teddies,” perhaps? The garments look towels tied under the armpits. They look vulnerable, but not afraid, not in the least."
..........
Sorry for quoting myself, but I can't say it any better.

I'm going back to see Nine again tomorrow, to see what i think of its structure. I think what I disliked about it was the music, not the ballet. Will report.

I won't get to see Chroma again. it looked less impressive than the videos on Youtube of the Royal -- perhaps because the set looked too small for our stage here -- at least from the orchestra. In the RB videos the set overwhelms the stage, whereas here, from hte orchestra, it seemed puny..... maybe they built it to hte wrong scale, or maybe it just doesn't go high enough. Perhaps from the boxes and upper rings hte 'container" holds the dance == but from the orchestra, the the white box is too short, and hte black curtains which mask the theater walls up to the proscenium are an embarrassment.

#8 PeggyR

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Posted 16 April 2011 - 10:22 AM

I saw Program 6 last night (4/15) and Chroma left me with very mixed feelings. On the one hand, loved the music, sets, lighting, costumes. But while the opening was exciting in a goof-ball kind of way, I thought the whole thing was impersonal and lost focus toward the end – not sure if the focus-loser was me or the dancers or the choreographer, but something just seemed to go haywire and it all ended up muddled and incoherent.

I’d be curious how this looks with a different cast: usually when I watch a ballet, especially something new, I can’t help thinking about what dancers I’d like to see in this role, that role, what qualities they might bring, how they might change the complexion of a work. Chroma, though, is so impersonal I have to wonder if different dancers would have any effect at all on the look of the ballet. Having said that, ultimately it was, after all, the dancers who kept me interested.

I love how Lorena Feijoo just digs in and goes for it – she did the same thing in (the vastly superior) Artifact Suite – she takes no prisoners. And she wore her bangs (in the section where I usually sit, we have a Lorena’s Bangs Watch: full, side-swept or none at all – these things are important!).

Daniel Deivison-Oliveira shimmied, slithered and shook his way around like a cobra looking for a snake charmer; whatever technical faults he has, there’s personality to spare.

And finally, Sarah Van Patten’s big-eyed, pastel glare had an air of the insane asylum about it, which fit well with the solitary confinement look of the set.

As to the rest of the program, underwhelmed doesn't begin to cover it. Ghosts was gray and 7 for 8 tedious, although I can’t say enough about the sheer beauty of Isaac Hernandez’s dancing in the latter work.

Off to see Program 7 this afternoon.

#9 Quiggin

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Posted 16 April 2011 - 02:07 PM

I agree that Ghosts was a more personal work (though of a very cryptic personality) than Number Nine, which was a romp through the neoclassical vocabulary. (Or alphabet, as if vowels were carrying and assisting the consonants across the stage.)

One of its cheeryist and most accomplished of Winsor & Newton yellows was Isaac Hernandez - and Elizabeth Miner was wonderfully elastic and free in 7 for Eight, in a fine City Ballet like way.

Regarding Chroma, it does look like something real is there but shows through more on some nights than on others. And whenever someone describes its birdlike moves, I think of Merce Cunningham's works which are often written in a choreographic bird language. I wonder how the company would look doing an early Cunningham piece straight on, rather than one of the many derivatives that they do - Hernandez (the leaps), Miner, Domitro (as the Merce figure), Sylve (the enchantress), and Scribner somewhere in there too.

Peggy R:

Lorena’s Bangs Watch: full, side-swept or none at all – these things are important!


I've been semi-consciously aware of this - it throws a new light on everything.

#10 Paul Parish

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Posted 16 April 2011 - 04:57 PM

Yes, Quiggin, re Elizabeth Miner. It was great to see her back, and in GREAT form.

#11 sf_herminator

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Posted 19 April 2011 - 11:35 PM

I'll wait for a program 7 thread to post my impressions, but it was pretty disappointing, too.


I've started a Program 7 thread - looking forward to reading your thoughts.


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