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SFB 2014 Program 8


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#16 pherank

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Posted 30 April 2014 - 03:41 PM

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.



#17 pherank

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Posted 02 May 2014 - 12:32 PM

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

 

10254321_845257145501928_722477434_n.jpg

 

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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.



#18 Josette

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Posted 02 May 2014 - 03:33 PM

It's Mathilde Froustey throughout.

#19 pherank

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Posted 02 May 2014 - 07:51 PM

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.c...h?v=8bx46l2gfZ0

https://www.youtube....h?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.c...h?v=9ziQoxo56H0

 

Suzanne Farrell makes some helpful points about BSQ here:

http://www.kennedy-c...deos/?id=A74272

And you can read more about the ballet here:
http://www.pnb.org/A...Schoenberg.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.yo...h?v=UakNzi_SBJM



#20 Buddy

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Posted 03 May 2014 - 02:04 AM

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.
 


#21 Josette

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Posted 03 May 2014 - 09:20 AM

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.

#22 Buddy

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Posted 03 May 2014 - 12:17 PM

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.



#23 catbrown

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Posted 07 May 2014 - 03:17 PM

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



#24 Quiggin

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Posted 07 May 2014 - 07:37 PM

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.



#25 Helene

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Posted 07 May 2014 - 08:52 PM

Quiggin, that "Agon" sounds horribly disappointing. 



#26 pherank

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Posted 07 May 2014 - 09:39 PM

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? Of Daniel Duell at the the 1982 Stravinsky festival? 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.

 

 

Quiggin, that "Agon" sounds horribly disappointing. 

 

I saw Agon with both Yuan-Yuan Tan (May 3rd), and Sofiane Sylve (May 6th), and both performances were a mixed bag of high points and muddled interpretations. Sylve is better with Balanchine than most of the other SFB dancers, and she didn't disappoint, but her PDD partner Tiit Helimets wasn't, imo, executing movements as well as I expect him to do. I also noticed that his jumps that evening seemed to lack his usual spring (and he wasn't the only male danseur that night who seemed to lack real energy). It occured to me, with Kochetkova being absent from one expected performance, and Messmer not appearing in two ballets, and SVP also withdrawing, that the end of season aches and pains must be taking their toll on the company. Dores Andre seemed to be the go-to-replacement. I'm just not as excited about watching Andre as I am about seeing Messmer. When I saw Program 7 on Sunday, I wasn't particularly interested in seeing Suite en Blanc again, but I was really surprised at how much better the execution of this ballet was from last season - the dancers really had fun with their parts and showed true 'elan' in this perfromance. SFB appears to need more time with Agon - to echo Quiggin's comments the company needs to order a stack of "Balanchine in Montreal" DVDs and force everyone to take Volume 2 home with them. And study, study...

 

The B-S Quartet was 'lovely' both nights (the costumes are a fun part of the experience), but I don't happen to be a real fan of that Balanchine work - for me, the choreography is unusually repetitive for Balanchine, and simply isn't as clever or inspired as some 20 other Balanchine ballets that they could be dancing. But that's just my view.

 

Robbins' Glass Pieces was generally well executed and the orchestra played particularly well, but, that's all the Philip Glass I need to hear this year. Funny thing, Scarlett's Hummingbird (Program 7) uses Philip Glass's muisc as well.  ;)

The audience responded well to the Glass Pieces performance - it's a good closer - I would have been less excited to end with BSQ.



#27 jsmu

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Posted 11 May 2014 - 05:22 PM

Quiggin, that "Agon" sounds horribly disappointing. 

Actually, Helene, it wasn't. It's true that the ensemble was not tight and that the timing was less than impeccable, but there were two surprisingly good performances as well as one unsurprisingly marvelous one. Gennadi Nedvigin, whom I like but who is not a Balanchine dancer, acquitted himself more than honorably in the first pas de trois--his flexed feet were witty and quite extreme--and Yuan Yuan Tan, whom I wouldn't necessarily have thought would be ideal for Agon pas de deux, was excellent in it--with an erotic overtone both subtle and unmistakable. She did not *act*--she gave us that coloring through her dancing, and it was fascinating. Sofiane Sylve was also terrific in the pas de deux. 

Frances Chung, who is lapidary in everything, was brilliant in the second pas de trois--only ballerina I've ever seen equal it was Maria Calegari (Hayden was before my time)...Her arms in the variation were phenomenal, as was her balance in the first section. The woman I went with, an ex-dancer who is new to SFB, was floored to learn that Chung is quite petite and slight--'but she occupies so much space and dances so BIG!' Exactly.

 

Sylve was good in Glass Pieces, too. Corps was exceptional in it. NYCB ends with this sometimes as well--I think Brahms would have been a far better ending. (At NYCB Brahms is always the last ballet.)

 

Brahms was a mixed bag. Froustey, who actually dances the Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux very respectably, was very good in the first movement as was Carlos Quenedit; I like Dores Andre's dancing tremendously but think she is completely miscast in a part made on Gloria Govrin and designed to be of HUGE AMPLITUDE. Andre is a smallish, graceful, vivacious dancer good in adagio and allegro but this part is supposed to eat the stage and it was quite unremarkable. From an earlier post, I gather that perhaps Simone Messmer was scheduled for the solo part in the first movement and was unable to dance? Tiit Helimets' partnering was strong in the *lethal* Intermezzo (any danseur doing this role should get a Purple Heart) and Tan looked good but they seemed rushed, hectic, and lacking in repose. It seemed strenuous, which is the opposite of Patricia McBride. Chung was lovely in the Andante, and Sylve and van Patten both danced with enormous style and scale in the Rondo. van Patten nailed EVERY multiple supported pirouette the night I saw her and her last one, in which she appeared to do about two or three more than she had planned and finished smack on the beat, brought a wonderful slightly surprised grin from her.



#28 Josette

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Posted 11 May 2014 - 10:13 PM

I saw the opening cast and loved "Agon." Pascal Molat brought out elements in the choreography and music that were new and unique. He danced with great understanding, as always. Frances Chung took me by surprise as I did not anticipate liking her in the second pas de deux, but she was musical, varied the repetitious elements in her solo- she never fails to surprise me. I had the great fortune of seeing Sofiane Sylve in the pas de deux with Tiit Helimets. As far as the group not being In perfect sync, this isn't "Swan Lake" Act 2 and it didn't bother me at all. It's a group of individuals, after all. I'd never seen all of B-S Quartet. What I remember most now, 10 days after the performance, is Julia Rowe as of the three demi-soloists in the second movement. I couldn't take my eyes off her, including when Kochetkova was on stage. Rowe dances with her whole being, nothing is compartmentalized. She has a true, beautiful dance movement. (I actually ran into her today when going into the theatre and had the chance to tell her how beautiful her dancing was.) in the fourth movement, Sarah Van Patten was an adorable minx, flirting with Davit Karapetyan, and the audience ate it up. As for "Glass Pieces," I love the music, the concept, the choreography, and thought the dancers did an excellent job. Yuan Yuan Tan and Damien Smith were superb, but no surprise there. I went out of the theatre elated, as there had been enough good dancing and some extraordinary dancing.

#29 Quiggin

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Posted 12 May 2014 - 09:29 AM

As far as the group not being In perfect sync, this isn't "Swan Lake" Act 2 and it didn't bother me at all. It's a group of individuals, after all...

 

Actually I did care that Agon would come off well as a whole ballet, with all its interlocking parts and “visual overtones” intact – rather than being a series of good performances for company members. There are many other ballets for that. 

 

Agon is the one major Balanchine work done in a year at San Francisco Ballet and for the year to come, until Four Temperaments at end of next season. Last spring Symphony in Three Movements  – with both its casts, Yuan Yuan Tan & Vito Mazzeo; Sarah van Patten & Carlos Quenedit – was a brilliant success. It too had very difficult counts – as did Shostakovich Trilogy... Some ballets like Agon are important to keep alive for their idea content, the dancers almost invisible within them. 

 

I know this is a minor quibble within the San Francisco Ballet Company topic heading and the comings and going of dancers (of which I'm as much interested as anyone), but the condition of the Balanchine ballets themselves might be of broader interest – somewhere.



#30 Josette

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Posted 12 May 2014 - 11:00 AM

I apologize if I wasn't clear: I did think that "Agon" went very well as a whole.


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