PeggyR

SFB 2014 Program 8

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Opening night cast only for Program 8. Sofiane Sylve in Agon!!!

PROGRAM 8

THURSDAY, MAY 1—8:00PM—OPENING NIGHT

AGON
Choreographer: George Balanchine
Composer: Igor Stravinsky
Conductor: Martin West

Sofiane Sylve, Tiit Helimets*
Taras Domitro*, Jennifer Stahl*, Grace Shibley*
Frances Chung*, Jaime Garcia Castilla*, Hansuke Yamamoto*

INTERMISSION

BRAHMS-SCHOENBERG QUARTET
Choreographer: George Balanchine
Composer: Johannes Brahms, orchestrated by Arnold Schoenberg
Conductor: Martin West

Mathilde Froustey*, Carlos Quenedit*
Maria Kochetkova*, Vitor Luiz*
Frances Chung*, Taras Domitro*
Sarah Van Patten*, Davit Karapetyan*

INTERMISSION

GLASS PIECES
Choreographer: Jerome Robbins
Composer: Philip Glass
Conductor: Ming Luke

Sasha De Sola, Hansuke Yamamoto
Jennifer Stahl, Gaetano Amico
Dores Andre, Shane Wuerthner

Yuan Yuan Tan, Damian Smith

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Nice, I'm hoping this same cast will appear on one of the two nights I have planned to go.

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I'm going opening night and the following night to program 7. Aside from the Agon cast, I'm delighted to be seeing Yuan Yuan Tan and Damian Smith in Glass Pieces. I also got a ticket for the farewell performance on the 11th, as they are doing the After the Rain pas de deux and In the Night. Southwest Airlines' fares makes this all possible, for which I am grateful.

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I'm planning to go on Saturday night and then later on Tuesday, which should have the opening night cast. In any case, it should be a delight.

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I am a recent ballet convert and have become a big fan of Yuan Yuan Tan. I saw that she was dancing in all three pieces across various dates. Not being familiar with any of the pieces, what should I try to watch her in -- Agon, B-S Quartet, or Glass Pieces? It would be difficult for me to go to three different dates. Appreciate your guidance!

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Pherank, on Tuesday, you get to see Sofiane Sylve in both Agon and Glass Pieces.

I noticed that Simone Messmer is dancing the second pas de trois in Agon on Saturday afternoon, and she should be terrific in it.

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Pherank, on Tuesday, you get to see Sofiane Sylve in both Agon and Glass Pieces.

I noticed that Simone Messmer is dancing the second pas de trois in Agon on Saturday afternoon, and she should be terrific in it.

Yes, thanks - I was just looking at the updated castings, and it's quite a mishmash for the final week. But I don't think there are going to be any 'lame' castings. I wish I could be seeing more of Messmer though. That's kind of disappointing, but Sylve in Agon - yes! And Yuan Yuan in Agon will be very intersting to compare with.

The Saturday matinee program looks terrific, but I won't be in SF early enough to go to that one.

Masha K. posted on her Facebook page today that she would be "Dancing Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and 2x Saturday. Saturday night will be my last show of the season". Ouch, that's a lot of participation. But no Zahorian this season, it would seem. And not enough of Messmer here at the end.

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I agree about not there being not enough of Simone Messmer. This season, I have only seen her twice in the Nutcracker Waltz of the Flowers as the soloist, and then she did not dance as announced in the performance of Chamber Symphony (though Froustey was lyrical and expressive). Messmer is a beautiful, unique dancer. I will see her dancing the pas de cinq in Suite en Blanc on Friday, and am looking forward to that.

From what I can tell from Vanessa Zahorian's facebook pages, she got her "boot" off a few weeks ago and is now doing exercises in water and keeping the faith. I hope that she will be able to dance on the Spoleto-Paris tour, but SFB is very careful about letting injured dancers back on stage until fully recovered.

You probably know this, but Kochetkova has a performance in Don Q with Herman Cornejo with ABT in a couple of weeks.

I keep wondering what the casting would have been if we had had V. Zahorian, D. Genshaft, and C. Blanco available this season.

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Hmm . . . I see that Dores Andre is dancing one of the leads in tonight's premiere of Liam Scarlett's Hummingbird and not Kochetkova, who is scheduled to dance it tomorrow night.

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Thanks for reporting the last minute cast changes, Josette... Simone Messmer did dance in Chamber Symphony one night, substituting for Lorena Feijoo, though I preferred Mathilde Froustey. I think that's the role in purple – which is based on Shostakovich's wife Nina. (Who in real life may have been the basis of Lady MacBeth of Mtsensk, according to Solomon Volkov, and that would make you think it would fit Messmer better). Froustey/Nina's death and absence – the body chalked on the sidewalk – was the more moving I thought.

I don't think they've found a place or persona for Messmer in the company. I asked one of the ushers who sees everything what she thought of her and she said, "she still new." She's quite dramatic, does a lot with her hands which she presents in a W shape (Froustey's are a cursive u). I'd like to see Messmer in Agon, hopefully she'll be in the second week cast. So far she has been in Who Cares and Giselle and Trilogy – then Suite en Blanc, and maybe a Brahms/Schoenberg to come.

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I'm very intrigued, Quiggin, with what you mean by W-shape hands. Maybe I'll understand when I see Ms. Mesmer perform on Friday night!

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I guess it was a sort of an Al Hirschfeld image – a body in profile with lower arms at 90 degree angles to upper arms and at 45 degrees to the floor, as if with two cigarette holders at once. My background is design and photography, so I began to think of Shostakovich Trilogy mostly in typographical terms. The sad couple Sarah Van Patten and Carlos Quenedit were a SS, flipping back and forth at once, the spinning dancer a double scallop shape: two C's, one above, the bottom one in reverse – and many movements ending in sudden criss-cross XX 's of hands or lower thighs and toes ... And Ж's Я's И's etc.

Enjoy Friday, and report! Matching the cast list to the sequence below, It looks as though Simone Messmer will be doing Pas de cinq, Mathilde Froustey La Cigarette – and Maria Kochetkova La Flûte.

La Sieste

Thème Varié

Sérénade

Pas de cinq

La Cigarette (à le fin de sa variation la danseuse fait mine d'écraser une cigarette du bout de sa pointe !)

Mazurka

Adage

La Flûte...

which comes from here:

http://fresques.ina.fr/en-scenes/fiche-media/Scenes00960/repetition-de-suite-en-blanc-avec-lifar.html

Lifar's notations Pinterested by SFB:

https://www.pinterest.com/pin/21884748161117185/

[This has jumped over into Program 7 territory – apologies]

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Enjoyed your comments, and I'm glad you jumped over into Program 7 territory, because that's the performance I saw, and I won't get the chance to see Prog 8.

Speaking of Froustey, I found it particularly delightful, seeing her dance Cigarette last night, because that was the YouTube clip I saw of her before she joined the SFB. I hadn't made the Suite en Blanc connection previously. Will be very, very interesting to see if she stays/goes at the end of this season. I can't help but think that if she goes, they'll pay more attention to Messmer.

No Masha last night - you could hear people "tsk" in disappointment as they made the announcement beforehand. Dores André did a fine job, but it was more a soloist's interpretation, if that makes any sense. She had a lovely smile throughout, though.

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Thank you, Quiggin, for the links in your post - a real treasure trove. I first saw Suite en Blanc in Paris in 1996, and then again three times in June 2012, when POB performed it in Chicago. I have since watched POB dancing it on YouTube several times, including last night! The POB Chicago performances were a revelation, particularly Dorothée Gilbert who danced La Flute with great beauty, musicality, and concentration - she was extraordinary, making it difficult for me to appreciate anyone else dance it (Gilbert was also a compelling Giselle).

Also, Quiggin, I loved your discussion about your point of view with which you assimilate the choreography and take in dancers' qualities. Very interesting.

Looking forward to seeing the Thursday and Friday shows and hearing others' views!

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Thanks for Suite en Blanc comments, Josette and Terez – especially about the Chicago performances.

Looks as if there are lots of small casting changes this week. Taras Domitro seems to be out at least until Tuesday. I've looked forward to seeing his performance in Agon, in the Daniel Duell/Jeremy Cox role. He was a great Melancholic in the 4Ts and seems to be able to slip into those blank-face Balanchine & Tomasson roles very easily and erase himself completely.

Maria Kochetkova is still in Suite en Blanc and Brahms/Schoenberg, second movement with Vitor Luiz – but no "Hummingbird" so far.

Sofiane Sylve is doing a bit of everything, including the 4th Movement mood-changing, gypsy dance of Brahms/Schoenberg – which was televised on PBS eight years ago with Wendy Whelan and Damean Woetzl for some sort of Balanchine Celebration.

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Sofiane Sylve is doing a bit of everything, including the 4th Movement mood-changing, gypsy dance of Brahms/Schoenberg – which was televised on PBS eight years ago with Wendy Whelan and Damean Woetzl for some sort of Balanchine Celebration.

I'm really looking forward to seeing Sylve dance Balanchine - I just have to hope that she doesn't drop out of any of these scheduled performances. But it's the end of the season and the minor injuries are going to pile up. I'm not suprised that Masha was pulled from at least one of her scheduled outings. We don't want to see any more serious injuries. Zahorian probably will not reappear until the fall, or Nutcracker time.

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"Last opening of the season Brahms-Schoenberg presented to you by dressing room 10"

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Courtesy of Ms. Kochetkova, Ms. Chung, MS. SVP and Ms. Froustey. In the first photo it looks more like Dores Andre than Froustey, so I'm guessing Froustey is the photographer, but that may just be the odd angle of the head throwing me off.

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It's Mathilde Froustey throughout.

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I am a recent ballet convert and have become a big fan of Yuan Yuan Tan. I saw that she was dancing in all three pieces across various dates. Not being familiar with any of the pieces, what should I try to watch her in -- Agon, B-S Quartet, or Glass Pieces? It would be difficult for me to go to three different dates. Appreciate your guidance!

Welcome Newballetfan,

Of course we don't know your taste in these matters, but here's what I can tell you:

Agon is a Balanchine 'masterwork' - meaning it is one of the seminal ballets of its period. It was very avant-garde when it was created and it still holds up well against the modern ballets of the present day (which are certainly influenced by ballets like Agon). I'm always reminded of 1950s modern art (NYC was the center of the avant-garde art world at that time) when I see Agon. I've not seen Ms. Tan in Agon (and I'm not sure if anyone has), so I will be particularly interested in how she approaches it. Sofiane Sylve dances Balanchine about as well as anyone at SFB, so she is a good person to see in these parts. Agon is one of those ballets that you need to see if you want to know what is best, and important in the world of ballet. Of course we all hope that we see a really excellent performance of this, or any other ballet, but I think it's important to support works like this whenever and wherever they are done.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8bx46l2gfZ0

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c5X6CHJl7ek

Brahms–Schoenberg Quartet is rather different from Agon, visually and musically. It involves many Corps dancers as well as soloists, and fancy costume dress. But like most Balanchine works, it is not a story ballet: it's all about the moods and the dancing. A video that shows a bit about BSQ:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ziQoxo56H0

Suzanne Farrell makes some helpful points about BSQ here:

http://www.kennedy-center.org/explorer/videos/?id=A74272

And you can read more about the ballet here:

http://www.pnb.org/AboutPNB/Repertory/BrahmsSchoenberg.aspx

Robbin's Glass Pieces is all energy and speed - of the modern world - think New York City. It's also a ballet involving many Corps dancers, so it's very imposing. A video about Glass Pieces:

http://http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UakNzi_SBJM

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I haven’t been able to follow this discussion carefully but am a fascinated fan of Simone Messmer. Thanks, Quiggin, for your earlier insights about her at this topic.


I did watch the 40 second practice view of her for Hummingbird in the video (starting at 2:00) posted at Program 7. As usual she stands out as someone special. Thanks everyone for your comments about her and I hope that she makes her mark as soon as possible. I’m in Europe and I would go to the Spoletto Festival (I dont’ think that I’ll be able to make Paris) just to see her. Maria Kochetkova would be another very compelling reason. Mathilde Froustey (although I’ve don’t recall ever seeing her on stage) would also be a very good reason, but I have to admit that my Fascination is with Simone at the moment. She’s just that special.



Added thought:


Quiggin you mentioned finding the right “place and persona” for Simone Messmer. Maybe that’s one of her attributes that directors should take a chance with. She can redefine things.


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Buddy, Simone Messmer danced (with the wonderful Jaime Castilla Garcia as her partner) one of the leads in Hummingbird last night, which was a very recent replacement. She is a beautiful dancer and your fascination with her is completely understandable.

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Buddy, Simone Messmer danced (with the wonderful Jaime Castilla Garcia as her partner) one of the leads in Hummingbird last night, which was a very recent replacement. She is a beautiful dancer and your fascination with her is completely understandable.

"Leads" are what I hope she gets a lot more of.

Thanks, Josette.

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I'm attending Program 8 tonight, Wednesday May 7, and just got an email notice that Agon will be replaced tonight by The Fifth Season. Not that I mind seeing Fifth Season again (loved it last week), but I will miss Agon and am wondering if anyone knows what happened to cause the replacement?

It's been a great season!

Thanks,

Cathy

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There were two dancers out of Brahms/Schoenberg last night, Simone Messmer and Sarah Van Patten, which meant that Sofiane Syve had to dance in all three works. Taras Domitro, also out of the running, was to be Pascal Molat’s alternative in Agon. All three of these things might have resulted in the cancellation of Agon on Wednesday.


But the performances of Agon have been off the mark this past week.


Perhaps it’s that San Francisco Ballet, on their website, characterizes Agon as a Post-Modernist ballet, which is hardly possible considering that it was made in 1957 and that Balanchine was a High Modernist choreographer, never a pasticheur. And it's also that the San Francisco Examiner critic refers to the “barely hidden whimsical subtext” of this production. All of which hints that we’re not seeing the same ballet that Balanchine made.


Agon is a series of algebraic equations quickly charted out on a black board (the dancers' socks are their chalk). It’s full of quick twists and arcs drawn by the hand and kicks to the end points of those arcs. There are jumps, pas de chats, flutters of feet, zig zags of legs and crossed ankles, sudden plunges forward.


Agon is a chain of causes and effects where every effect becomes a new cause.


And it’s a kind of clockwork where two dancers have to be off by just a half a beat or half a unit for it to work – just like the violin and viola in Concerto Barocco.


The dancers on Program 8 put on a great effort but they seemed to be dancing as independent agents and you didn’t see the visual overtones. Did no one look at the Balanchine Celebration tape of the straight-forward, no-nonsense performances of Peter Boal and Arch Higgins? Or even the recent Dutch Ballet clips? Or try to borrow back some of the Agon rigor they had in Shostakovich Trilogy?



Brahms/Schoenberg was on the other hand quite lovely. It had less of the strangeness and eerieness that the City Ballet production of 2004 had, but was nonetheless a very satisfying end-of-season work to see. I liked the third movement best. I think it’s the four colors of costumes – pinks for the corps and pink and red for the demis, red for the ballerina and a contrasting petro blue for the ballerino – that do it for me. Dores Andre and Joan Boada were in great form, and brought off nicely the odd recto/verso figures the ballerina makes as she’s lifted overhead.


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Quiggin, that "Agon" sounds horribly disappointing.

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