Reviews of San Francisco Ballet by Rita Felciano for danceviewtimes.
Liam Scarlett, artist-in-residence with the Royal Ballet, is the latest of these choreographers that seem to come from nowhere, and all of a sudden are in such demand that you worry about them burning out too quickly. Judging from "Hummingbird," Scarlett's commission for SFB -- something like his 20th work at the age of 27 -- there is a lot of potential in this still young choreographer. His musicality has yet to be determined. Throughout, walking patterns easily coexist with ballet steps. The lifts are prominent and athletic, very much in the current style. Fresh was Scarlett's uncommonly fluid and promising approach to his handling the relationship between corps and soloists. He set the piece on three primary and two subsidiary couples and only eight corps members whom he divides and subdivides -- sometimes in the shadows, sometimes stepping to the forefront; they comment on the soloists but also swallow them up. Yet with such a relatively small number of dancers -- sixteen -- Scarlett manages to fill the large Opera House stage with airy and spacious choreography.
Even in less than stellar performances, "Agon" is a feast. What struck me this time was this ballet's wit and playfulness; the more I see it, the less I see the much-vaunted abstraction. At the end of the Part I, with a hand to their heart, the dancers looked like athletes listening to the pre-game national anthem. It reminded me of Stravinsky having offered the nation a new orchestration of the National Anthem, an act for which he got arrested. For all the rigor of "Agon's" canons, mirror images, syncopations and six o'clock extensions, it sports a light spirit almost jumping at you with jaunty walks, swinging arms, heel-toe-heel feet and broken wrists. And let's not forget those slight, recurring bows. In the Bransle Simple Jaime Garcia Castilla and Hansuke Yamamoto, embodied that kind of courtly game playing particularly well.