pherank

Isabella DeVivo and Jahna Frantziskonis Promoted to Soloist

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Posted (edited)

SFB has announced:

 

"Isabella DeVivo trained at the School of American Ballet before attending SF Ballet School as a trainee. Since joining the Company as a member of the corps de ballet in 2013, she has danced featured or principal roles in Tomasson’s Giselle, Nutcracker, Romeo & Juliet, and Swan Lake in addition to works by Balanchine, Caniparoli, Peck, and Scarlett. She created corps de ballet roles in Tomasson’s Caprice and Thatcher’s Manifesto, among others.

Jahna Frantziskonis joined SF Ballet as a corps de ballet member in 2015 following three seasons with Pacific Northwest Ballet, where she also trained. At SF Ballet, Jahna has danced principal or featured roles in works by Tomasson, Balanchine, Scarlett, and Wheeldon and, in the 2016 Season, she made her debut as Olga in Cranko’s Onegin and created a corps de ballet role in Peck’s In the Countenance of Kings.

Please join us in congratulating Isabella and Jahna on their promotions and look for them in upcoming performances of Balanchine's Stravinksy Violin Concerto in Must-See Balanchine on March 17 and in Scarlett's Fearful Symmetries in Contemporary Voices on March 18."

Edited by pherank

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Well, my goodness, the news keeps coming from the SFB, doesn't it? Very happy for both dancers; they were on my wish list for promotions, back last spring. As always, I feel a little sad for the dancers who came just shy of garnering this prize, but ah, well, that's how it goes in a dance company.

 

Big congratulations to both dancers!

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Well, I knew Frantziskonis wasn't coming back to PNB, but this just pokes at the bruise...  She's a lovely dancer, and I'm thrilled that she's getting this recognition.  I just wish I could see her work!

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What is up with San Francisco and promotions lately? I just wish I could be there 😭 Saw DeVivo in a Caniporoli work a few years ago and was impressed. Saw Frantziskonis as Olga and was also quite taken. Bravo to both. 

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2 hours ago, sandik said:

Well, I knew Frantziskonis wasn't coming back to PNB, but this just pokes at the bruise...  She's a lovely dancer, and I'm thrilled that she's getting this recognition.  I just wish I could see her work!

 

Never say never. Now is the time to "see her work" since she's going to get consistently more interesting parts as a soloist. I remember that her brother (whom she is very close to) left to go somewhere like the HET or Royal Danish Ballet - maybe as a trainee or apprentice? That has to have been hard for Jahna. I hope she's been able to make good friends among the other dancers.

 

3 minutes ago, JumpFrog said:

What is up with San Francisco and promotions lately? I just wish I could be there 😭 Saw DeVivo in a Caniporoli work a few years ago and was impressed. Saw Frantziskonis as Olga and was also quite taken. Bravo to both. 

 

SFB is going through a painful but inevitable changing of the guard. First the senior male danseurs have been retiring, and now many of the senior women. It's hard for those of used to seeing, and rooting for, a particular group of soloists.

The real question is whether Tomasson can maintain as high a standard of dancing and partnering as we've been used to in the last 10 years - in all styles of dance. That takes special people.

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15 hours ago, pherank said:

SFB is going through a painful but inevitable changing of the guard. First the senior male danseurs have been retiring, and now many of the senior women. It's hard for those of used to seeing, and rooting for, a particular group of soloists.

The real question is whether Tomasson can maintain as high a standard of dancing and partnering as we've been used to in the last 10 years - in all styles of dance. That takes special people.

That is so true pherank. So much of leading a ballet company is managing precisely this. I have found it most impressive when directors find a way to nuture and give opportunity to up and coming dancers while also respecting and utilizing the more senior ones. It's hard to keep the changing of the guard from happening all at once. It probably won't ever be seamless. It's a tricky balance requiring intelligent leadership.

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While big transitions are risky, this isn't a disruptive changing of the guard and/or company style:  all of the retiring dancers are Tomasson hires.  It's a great opportunity to see younger dancers and longer-term/senior corps dancers who haven't been given the roles before step up to the plate.  Their performances won't be the same as the beloved veteran dancers, but it's an exciting place to be when you have the depth that SFB has and a bit of a vacuum.  I also would count on Tomasson continuing to make key "acquisitions" to supplement the roster, since dancing in San Francisco is such a plum job, and there's a frightening amount of talent out there, including, but not exclusively, people trained at the SFB School.  

 

Plus our girl Jahna will only get better and better :)

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It does seem that the mistake often made is to wait too long to start bringing up the young dancers, so that they don't get enough time dancing soloist roles with the veterans (while they are still dancing at their peak), in order to LEARN from those people. At SFB, Tiit Helimets and Sofiane Sylve have both expressed interest in mentoring, and teaching/coaching (Sylve has been a guest teacher with the school for some time). Mentoring should be an important part of the ballet world, but often seems to be an overlooked approach in everyday business at the companies.

I can't help but feel bad for a number of the Corps dancers who are not moving up, but have been dancing demi-soloist and even soloist parts admirably, for a while. I'm glad to see Jahna move up, but there's 3 or 4 other women and at least one man who need to move on too. It's hard to see the talented ones go, because there isn't enough career progression.

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It's worth noting that Isabella and Jahna's promotions are effective July 2017.

 

 

20 hours ago, pherank said:

I can't help but feel bad for a number of the Corps dancers who are not moving up, but have been dancing demi-soloist and even soloist parts admirably, for a while. I'm glad to see Jahna move up, but there's 3 or 4 other women and at least one man who need to move on too. It's hard to see the talented ones go, because there isn't enough career progression.

 

I can think of one or two additional female corps members, but not a handful right now. Ellen Hummel would have been the next on my list. Also Lauren Strongin for promotion to principal (seriously, what does that woman have to do to get the nod?). For men, I have my eyes on Esteban Hernandez.

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23 minutes ago, PeggyTulle said:

For men, I have my eyes on Esteban Hernandez.

I remember seeing him in a small male ensemble the last time  I saw San Francisco Ballet, which had to be four or five years ago, and being really impressed with him.

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Esteban should be promoted to soloist.  I saw him as the prodigal son on Saturday evening and he inhabited the role fully so that it is ridiculous that he is not promoted.  He had danced it the previous Sunday and became a very-last-minute replacement on Saturday evening for Angelo Greco, principal dancer.  I tend to think of him as a charming, exuberant dancer with an endearing smile, but, as the prodigal son, he showed emotional depth, dancing with power and speed from the moment he came on stage to the final, heart-rendering crawl to the Father. 

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9 hours ago, Helene said:

I remember seeing him in a small male ensemble the last time  I saw San Francisco Ballet, which had to be four or five years ago, and being really impressed with him.

 

He joined in 2013; was it him you say, or his brother Isaac (now a lead principal with English National Ballet)? What a talented family!

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I'm not confusing him with his brother, because I was thrilled when Isaac Hernandez got great opportunities in Europe.  Maybe I saw Estebam on video, then.  I remember asking someone to ID him among the men.  ("Him!")

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On 3/20/2017 at 8:42 PM, Helene said:

I'm not confusing him with his brother, because I was thrilled when Isaac Hernandez got great opportunities in Europe.  Maybe I saw Estebam on video, then.  I remember asking someone to ID him among the men.  ("Him!")

 

I sort of remember him in something smaller, maybe Concerto Grosso or something at a Gala? It's totally possible, Helene! Whatever the case, he's incredibly talented, and I hope SFB can keep and further his innate gifts.

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