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Stern Grove

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Did anyone attend the Stern Grove performances?

Critic Rachel Howard wrote about it in her blog:

life's a picnic at the ballet

The moments that stayed most vividly in mind came during “The Four Temperaments,” one of the strengths of SFB’s recent Balanchine Festival. The company danced to the Hindemith as though in the cauldrons of hell, not at a summer picnic. Gonzalo Garcia, in the Melancholic variation, looked ready to throw himself from the Golden Gate Bridge. Sarah van Patten, a young and highly individualistic dancer recruited from the Royal Danish Ballet, danced the Sanguinic variation with Vadim Solomakha. If once I doubted what Helgi Tomasson so prized in her, I see it now. She is uncannily musical—the crisp correspondence of her footwork to pianist Roy Bogas’s single notes in one passage makes you wonder if her body isn’t somehow producing the sound. And she breathes drama like a perfume. She stole your eye in last season’s “Serenade,” and she did it here again in the full company finale.

The most fascinating interpretation, though, was Yuri Possokhov’s. All the balletomane picnic tables were a-twitter about his Phelgmatic: “he dances it like Petrouchka!” Indeed, he plays the sad clown-puppet with an incredible economy of facial gesture. He looks like Todd Bolender in those old photographs, dressed in the original Kurt Seligmann costumes. No one would want those distracting rags restored, but Possokhov’s rendering does make you rethink the appropriateness of character in Balanchine’s supposedly “abstract” works.

Now, that's a performance I'm sorry to have missed!

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I wish I could have seen this. Possokhov's Phlegmatic and van Patten's performances were highlights of the San Francisco Ballet Balanchine programs for me this spring.

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