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About ginasf

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  • Connection to/interest in ballet** (Please describe. Examples: fan, teacher, dancer, writer, avid balletgoer)
  • City**
    San Franicsco
  • State (US only)**, Country (Outside US only)**
    United States
  1. All these galas for people like Makarova and Plisetskaya are painful to watch. They sit there seeing dancers who are in every way inferior to them (and certainly not as individual) doing stamped out versions of roles the honored attendee made famous. There's a great video on YouTube of Plisetskaya coaching a ballerina from the POB in the black swan. 80 year old Maya gives her one great comment (and demonstration) after another but the younger dancer just CAN'T DO IT. Why... she doesn't have the artistry. Same with Lopatkina. I got more beautiful dancing from Makarova showing a few arm movements than watching robotronic Lopatkina going through her motions. She's incapable of making her body sing. Someone like Irina Golub is a much better dancer than her.
  2. HI... help please. A long time ago I saw a short film about the School of the American Ballet from the late 60s or early 70s. It was in black and white and featured a great variation by a very young Bujones (probably in Stanley Williams' class). Does anyone know the title of this film? Any ideas?
  3. ginasf

    Program 3 2011

    Nobody walked out that I saw, but while leaving after the performance, I heard a lot of comments along the lines of "...I never, ever want to see that again...". Agree with you about Nana's Lied... it's a half-baked piece and the movement is really nothing special (but is any of Helgi's?) I haven't seen Sarah Van Patten in it, but I can totally imagine she's the one company member who could make something of it. It's very rare I see a work by Helgi where I don't think... "if he reworked this a few times it would be waaay better." I've seen Artifact Suite 3 times and loved every time. Goes to show you! Agree with your description of Tan vs. Feijoo. But I do think there are certain people at SFB who dance Forsythe way better than others. Kristen Long (who seems to be on leave?) is amazing. I honestly think she's one of the best ballerinas in the world while dancing contemporary work. Muriel Maffre was amazing. Sofiane Sylve would be amazing. Yuan Yuan, as flexible and beautiful as she is, tends to be a kind of 'passive dancer'... not much attack. People leaving a performance doesn't surprise me in the least because a) there are a lot of incredibly rude people going to SFB who really know nothing about ballet; b) even though SFB isn't any kind of daring or cutting edge company (far from it) many of their audience members are really more into showmanship or 'easily digested' pleasant pieces. They don't like getting their tummies in a knot while seeing anything. For me, no one is more brilliant than Forsythe at using groupings of dancers, or creating movement for an entire company which behaves as a single organism. I wish most of the SFB product had 1/10th his creativity and magic. From other fragments I've seen of the full evening of Artifact, many of the other pieces not included in the suite are extremely different in style.
  4. ginasf

    Program 3 2011

    Saw the matinee today. Agree that Artifact Suite is one of the best pieces in their rep and beautifully performed by the company. It's a work of a true master and makes a lot of the homegrown SFB works look very boring and middlebrow by comparison. Honestly, I don't think I could ever see too much Forsythe. Nanna's Lied I wanted to see because Maria was making her debut in it. She did a good job and her demise in the piece is beautifully done (although I'm not sure she looks right for the period). But having seen it for 7-8 years, I forgot what an unfinished piece it is. Really, Helgi could have done a lot more with the Kurt Weill songs. Still like the set with the huge rotating panels which remind me of the Cabinet of Dr. Caligari or other gothic UFA films, but the dance just isn't there. He should have reworked it a little before bringing it back. Yuri's Classical Symphony isn't a ground breaking work, but it's fun to see, has a lot of enjoyable balletic quotes and puns and was wonderfully performed. Especially thought Gennadi and Vanessa did a great job with their parts along with Isaac Hernandez and Dores Andre. It's dedicated to the great Bolshoi dancer and teacher Peter Pestov who's produced so many great dancers through the years, recently had a big gala in NYC and I'm glad to see him get his due. Btw, is it my imagination or are the usher crew at the Opera House getting more and more pushy and obnoxious? I'm truly not enjoying my visits there and it saddens me the atmosphere has changed. There were only a handful of people at standing room and they were still being hassled by some of the ushers and I'm sick of it. Much as I love dance I'm thinking of calling this season quits and going to other companies (like the Royal Danish Ballet coming to Berkeley in May).
  5. Herminator, you're so right about the average 'ballet intelligence' of most people in the Orchestra sections. The higher priced the seats, it seems like the less real interest in ballet and dance. So much of the cultural institutions in San Francisco have become geared towards those with a lot of money. Maybe they should just put a permanent big, white "event" tent on the stage of the Opera House and skip the dancing since so many patrons in the high priced seats seem to care so little about it. But an art cannot thrive or grow without real fans and even fanatics. That was so much a part of the culture which developed classical ballet in St. Petersburg. Arts organizations which cater only to the wealthy will eventually shrivel up and die. This is a terrible move.
  6. I don't want to derail or take anything away from Sarah Van Patten and the other dancers, but I am truly disgusted with the SF Ballet for jacking up their standing room prices yet again to $30 for the story ballets. Yes, I know they (and the opera house in general... I'm not sure who exactly instituted this price rise) probably aren't getting as much money in these tight economic times, but to charge $30 for many ballet fans who likely don't have a lot of money is terrible and it's squeezing the wrong people. Much as I love SFBallet's performances and have been attending since the 1970s, I'm not going to be going to much (if any) this year. How much money this is generating for the opera house and SFB can't be much, but it's the straw that broke my camel's back. Yes, I am aware they are offering some discounts during certain evenings up in the nosebleeds. Sorry, but it's not a decent tradeoff. I love the culture of standing room, where you have real fans, dancers and highly knowledgable people mixing together. It was magic and, thanks to some very short-sighted management, it's been ruined for me. BOO on SFB and BOO Opera House
  7. ginasf

    SFB 2011 Giselle

    (moved to a new thread)
  8. ginasf

    SFB 2011 Giselle

    While I admit I'd really, really like to see Yachmennikov and, especially Sofiane Sylve do their thang (I can totally see Sylve being my fav Myrtha since Martine Van Hamel), in terms of Giselles I have to go with Van Patten. She's such a good actress I think she's ready to give a really great Giselle. Curious to hear about the opening Saturday night show, but I'll be seeing the Sunday Matinee. The Thursday, February 10 Kochetkova, Boada, and Chung sounds interesting too. Masha and Joan are really good together and I'm curious what Frances will do with Myrtha.
  9. Vipa, in general, I agree. The movie is pretty much a slick-trashy-entertainment and not a real exploration of young dancer's troubled mind. Also agree with you that having more of a sense of her before she starts losing it would have made the film stronger. And, no, none of the non-dancers are especially convincing, but the film is so stylized and so shot through the main character's disturbed point-of-view that it didn't bother as much as it would have for a more mainstream dance-themed film. It would have been a difficult role to cast with a dancer since she's really in every scene. Even Moira Shearer didn't have anywhere nearly as difficult an acting role as Portman does in this film. I'm not a huge Aronofsky lover but I would still recommend the film for ballet lovers and dancers so long as you can let the technical issues go when you see it. In truth, it's really not meant for a dance audience and, if anything, kind of trades on the stereotypical outsider's assumption of "yeah, aren't bun-heads completely nutz!?"
  10. Black Swan -- A Review Haha, it's trash, but you know you want to see it. Darren Aronofsky's Black Swan is a hokey, yet engrossing and creepily entertaining look at the ballet world. It has every "psycho bunhead" cliche you've ever heard. Natalie Portman does a great job as Nina, a self-loathing, OCD-gotta-be-perfect soloist who gets a shot at dancing a new production of Swan Lake. She's the core of the film, in every scene and totally carries it on her shoulders. Lily, played by Mila Kunis is her slutty, smoking, ecstasy-taking competition (I love it, she just joined the company from SAN FRANCISCO... the den of iniquity) and Nina becomes obsessed that Lily is out to get her. Barbara Hershey plays Nina's ballet mom from hell (of course, a frustrated stuck-in-the-corps dancer) who won't give Nina any living space and completely lives through her daughter's career. Vincent Cassel as Thomas, the controlling, horn-dog company director... perhaps more Peter Martins than Balanchine. And there are lots of ballet people you might know in the film. Benjamin Millepied choreographed the dance sequences and plays the dancer who performs Siegfried. Sergio Torrado (late of SF Ballet and currently with Boston Ballet) plays the dancer performing Rothbart (and has a brief very funny acting moment in the film), Marina Stavitskaya plays... a ballet teacher remarkably like herself and Christine Redpath plays a coach (with a beautiful sequence showing her coaching Nina on Odette). Oh yes, and in a little cameo, John Epperson (AKA drag performer Lypsinka) plays the exhausted accompanist. Let's not forget Winona Ryder in a camp and (self-mocking) role as the 'messed up ballerina on the way out'... not terribly convincing as a ballerina but a convincing as a nutjob. Oh yes, don't worry, there's a whooole bunch of psycho-sexual craziness going on because, well, Nina is pretty much bat-sh*t nuts. There's *ahem* a 'pas de deux' with Lily which, um, ends up in bed and, let's just say, no one goes away hungry. Lots of gross out creepy, sickening body stuff having to do with morphing body parts, skin conditions, peeling flesh, you know, the usual. Yes, there are eating disorders, endless shots of working over toe shoes and cattiness up the wazoo. Can Portman dance? Well, she's on shown point a number of times and it does seem to be her. Her ports des bras isn't gonna blow you away... Maya Plisetskaya she ain't, but she and her body doubles do a fairly convincing depiction of dance. Mila Kunis... not a dancer and it shows. She's great in her bad girl character but I honestly had a hard time believing her as any kind of dancer. What is impressive are the dance sequences. They aren't really any more than bits of Swan Lake with a lot of more hip Euro/Ballet mixed together, but they're beautifully shot with a dynamic, sweeping camera. Even though the film shows Lincoln Center as a setting, a lot of the theater scenes seem to have been shot at the City Center Theater (which has its own City Ballet History). Music from Swan Lake is played throughout the film in various arrangements. There were times when what happened in the film didn't quite match my feelings about the chosen music... it's hard to let go of what you know is "supposed" to happen when a certain piece is played. But Directory Aronofsky uses it well to suggest the underscoring of obsessiveness, lust and feeling trapped. Don't mistake Black Swan for The Red Shoes (which it most closely resembles), The Turning Point or Centerstage. It's just as much like Roman Polanski's Repulsion or Carrie as any of those films. It's hard to imagine any young kids seeing it and thinking, "wow, I want to be like her" (beautiful though Natalie Portman is) but it channels the ballet world's insularity and search for perfection and pushes it into real horror.
  11. ginasf

    SFB at Stern Grove 8/8/10

    Just came back from Stern Grove. As usual, a big crowd, but a very drizzly and foggy day with only brief glimpses of semi-sun. I felt bad for the orchestra who got spritzed-on a number of times and deserve the trooper award. Prism, not one of my fav pieces (not even among Helgi's works). The dancers were really in a tough situation. It was sprinkling all throughout the dance and they actually stopped it after the pas de deux for about 15 minutes because it was just getting too wet. Vanessa did a good job, but between the drizzle and people walking in front of me, it was hard to see. As usual, Hansuke Yamamoto stole the show with his solos at the end. Don Q PDD with Vitor Luiz and Feijoo. Luiz, I think, is one of the great "catches" in this company. He's an incredible virtuoso dancer, easily as good if not better than Gonzalo Garcia and Luiz and Feijoo match up so well together. I'd love to see them in Coppelia. As might be expected, their performance was perfect but... they cut the first two solos and went straight to the coda! Perhaps this was to make up time lost because of the rain delay or maybe they were worried how much 'dry time' was left before they'd have to stop again. After the Rain (apt choice of programming) with Damian and Yuan Yuan was beautiful. Not as focused as it is when performed inside, but the dancers' intense concentration really won over the crowd. As usual, Smith and Tan melted into one form and I always love the end where she does a highly arched backbend and Smith crawls underneath as though she's a little cave. Sandpaper Ballet is always fun and a crowd pleaser (I'm saying that in a non-snarky way). Feijoo, Chung, Zahorian and the corps women did their best (although the stage is definitely smaller than the War Memorial Opera House and they seemed cramped). Loved the women's ensemble dance which is so Mad Men! Gennadi Nedvigin and male corps did a stylish job with their section. Okay, it was a little sloppier than I'm used to seeing it, but on a cold, wet day and their first performance of the new season, that's not too surprising. Best of luck to all in Copenhagen and I can hardly wait for the coming season with some very exiting new dancers in the mix.
  12. ginasf

    SFB 2010 Romeo and Juliet

    For those who haven't seen it... of course it's on Youtube: . Unfortunately, it didn't catch when he went down on his knees... I would loved to have seen her expression! They're such a great couple and I wish them all the happiness in the world.
  13. ginasf

    SFB 2010 Romeo and Juliet

    Some Romeo and Juliet information... according to someone I spoke with at today's performance (5/9/10) at last night's show, during the curtain call, Davit Karapetyan proposed marriage to Vanessa Zahorian! He got down on bended knee and asked her to marry him! Wish I could have seen that one. I'm assuming she accepted but... ouch, that would be humiliating if she said no. Romeo & Juliet, Sun. 2:00 5/9/10 First of all, some huge drama happened today. Maria Kochetkova was about 4-5 minutes into her first act bedroom scene with Anita Paciotti as the Nurse when, somehow, Maria was cut on her upper face (possibly by a hair brush) her hand was covered in blood and she ran off the stage. The curtain went down and there was a pause for nearly a half hour! Needless to say, there was a LOT speculation if she was coming back. They cut out about 10-15 minutes of the first act, and the curtain reopened on the scene with Romeo, Mercutio and Benvolio just outside the Capulet's ball. During the ball scene, Maria came back out, looking white as a sheet and a little shaken, but after a few minutes, was dancing like a dream (she seems to be okay and I couldn't see any noticeable bandage). The show went on. And good thing it did, because it was one of the best performances of R&J I've ever seen (and I've seen at least 5-6 versions). Maria and Joan Boada as Romeo had tremendous chemistry. Off all the couplings in R&J, these two are the best as really being believable as young kids who barely know what they're doing but are carried away by their passion. She is made to dance Juliet and watching her dance I saw immediate comparisons to both Makarova and Gelsey Kirkland. Of all the Romeos dancing this week, I wanted to see Boada the most. He brought a passion and boyishness to the role that I honestly don't think the rest of SFB's Romeos could match. Both danced beautifully, their acting was highly moving, especially Konchetkova in the third act. The balcony pas was wonderful and, they connected so well. I must say I still miss Michael Smuin's version of this pas... I don't think Helgi is as good at choreographing duets as Smuin was (I remember Diana Weber dancing with Tomm Rudd and Jim Sohm) but it was beautiful nonetheless. Gennadi Nedvigin was a superb Mercucio and Isaac Hernandez is an incredible classical dancer and someone I'm looking forward to seeing more of. Daniel Deivison was the best Tybalt I've seen—sometimes it's a forgettable role but he both looked amazing in the role and had a powerful, yes, uber sexy presence. Dores Andre and the Stewart Bros. were fun as the street dancers. The character dancers - Paciotti as the Nurse, Ricardo Bustamante as Lord Capulet, Pauli Magierek as Lady Capulet and, especially, Jorge Esquivel as Friar Lawrence (I remember Lew Christiansen in this role!) all excellent. In general, I think R&J is one of Helgi's better full evening works. There are times when I wish the street scenes would be even a little wilder and lustier, but he does a great job with the ballroom scene. The stage fighting and Mercutio's taunting shtick (and let's face it, Mercutio is kind of asking for it) are well done. The costumes, doublets and gowns are beautiful although I admit I'm not a fan of Mercutio's power blue tights. What I'm not a fan of is Jens-jacob Worsaae's set. I think it's beautifully lit by Thomas Skelton, but the set has none of the geometric drama and fancifulness of Verona. It looks more like Spain than Italy. And I wish it had more interesting angles to it... it's front forward and has none of the feeling of a medieval city... it adds no drama to the production. All in all, an incredible performance and one I'm sure Maria Kotchetkova won't soon be forgetting. I hope Maria and everyone else heals up in their time off and well-deserved rest. After a month and half they have to get ready for Copenhagen.
  14. ginasf

    SFB 2010 The Little Mermaid

    Little Mermaid, Saturday 3/27 2:00 Memorial Opera House Cast: Sarah Van Pattan:Mermaid; Pierre Francois Vilanoba:The Prince; The Princess:Vanessa Zahorian;Sea Witch:Garen Scribner;Poet:Pascal Molat. John Neumeier's the Little Mermaid is about as far from Disney as a work of art can get. Nor is it Hans Christian Andersen Danny Kaye style... it's Hans Christian Andersen, tortured gay man in love with a straight man who just got married and doesn't really give Hans' infatuation a second though style. That one. So he then wrote a heartbreaking story about the ultimate outsider whose profound love for a man wasn't returned and it killed their bodily existence. Someone who is completely divorced from their body (Andersen was pretty much a gay man who died a virgin despite an unconsummated infatuation with Jenny Lind) And this story provides the basis for one of the most striking and moving ballet/theater performances I've ever seen. It's a curious combination of a lot of styles and, of course, Neumeier's dark dramatic choreography. Some sections really reminded me of Antony Tudor ballets. Others reminded me of Robert Wilson and Lucinda Childs. Sometimes I felt as if I was watching a silent film with Lilian Gish or a butoh performance. The end reminded me a lot of Graham's Clytemnestra. And in the middle of it all is the role of a lifetime for the right dancer. I know Yuan Yuan got wonderful reviews and opening night... but I can not imagine should could have performed this better than Sarah Van Patten. Van Patten is an incredible actress... I've seen this hinted at in a lot of roles, but here, she's just amazing. Sometimes she's a bratty teenager, other times a spirit of beauty, sometimes ET the extra-terrestrial, Petrushka, other times the aforementioned Lillian Gish playing the Little Match Girl. She is at once heart breaking and miraculous and, not to put any other dancers down, I can't them doing this role as well as her. One thing Van Patten has is completely convincing look of goofiness, vulnerability and awkwardness which I don't see either Tan nor Feijoo having to the same degree. Van Patten's incredible performance in the claustrophobic room scene at the beginning of the second half was burned into my heart and mind. Her incredible solo at the end, after she's unable to murder the man she loves had me crying. I don't cry at the ballet too often. If you see her doing it at some point in the future, bring a good pair of opera glasses, because her face and eyes are miraculous. Close behind was Molat's Poet. The Poet (basically Andersen) mirrors much of what goes on in the ballet. It sounds hokey but it works brilliantly here. His self-loathing, sense of failure, helplessness and need to express himself come through beautifully. Garen Scribner was the Sea Witch... a wild combination of Carabosse, Michael Clark (the punk Nijinsky) and the late performance artist Leigh Bowery. It has to be the more queertastic/off the wall characters I've ever seen at SF Ballet (which can be kind of stodgy and... um, heterosexual at times). His incredible dance with the Little Mermaid towards the end involving the knife is one you won't forget. Nor his S&M crew always shadowing him and doing his dirty work. The most incredible scene of all was when the Little Mermaid loses her fin and gets her legs. First off, a warning, it is an incredibly brutal scene... almost more like a rape than an act of magic. It has a violent power which both revulses and attracts. You realize it's a pact with the devil and truly understand what she's going through for the love of her human. I just kept finding myself saying "girl, please don't do this, please, it's NOT worth it." And then there's the humans. Needless to say, Neumeier doesn't have a high regard for the human race. They are boring and vapid and petty and vain. The main iconography for the Prince, the man the Little Mermaid is destroying her body for, is a golf club. I didn't need this production to cement my dislike of golfers in general (sorry, I'm bigoted) and golf culture... but if you don't feel like cramming that golf club down his throat by the end of it... you're inhuman. Vilanoba looks gorgeous (as usual), plays the unconscious vapidity perfectly and was a wonder in the storm scene where he's rescued by the mermaid. Along with the Prince was Vanessa Zahorian as the Princess... basically a spoiled debutante who moves through the world with a sense of privilege the Little Mermaid will never have. Zahorian gets it dead on. In the second act, she's joined by a corps of, what almost look like a group of Jackie Kennedys (well, in fuller skirts) with pillbox hats and a righteous belief the world is made for them. The male corps, the sailers, provide more eye candy (in a very homoerotic, muscular way in their first act dance) and as an officer corps at the prince and princesses' wedding, a counterpart for the pillbox girls. There are so many scenes which stand out in this production... the opening (all silent, no music) involving Andersen's love object getting married, the storm, the incredible transformation scene, the perverse and sarcastic ship scene, Van Patten's tour de force at the beginning of the second act and the maddening wedding. It's all incredibly vivid. That is not to say there aren't some dead moments. The first half alone is 1hr 20mins and, before the transformation scene, there were a few times I was NOT liking Lera Auerbach's atonal marathon (nor about 10 mins which could have been cut... but I don't think Neumeier plays that game). The score livens up a lot starting with the transformation scene. The score has some definite high points... I loved, again, the transformation scene, the sailor's dance, and ship scene and all of the second half. Again, there was a lot of not terribly interesting music earlier in the first half. There are some witty musical quotes throughout the piece which always surprised me wafting through and then vanishing. Mostly, it is a dark score and I wondered if a little more variety would have made it even more powerful. Neumeier also designed the brilliant set. Especially loved the light tubes which create the waves and the Mermaid's bedroom which looks like something from the Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. Special mention has to be made of what is maybe my favorite scene change of all time... when they literally change the angle of the ship onstage in open view. Scenic magic which reminded me a lot of Robert Wilson's work like Einstein on the Beach. Neumeier also designed the witty costumes which feature both retro camp and a sense of wickidness which reminded me of the costumes in "The Hard Nut"... only darker. This is an incredible new work to have in their repertory. I'm glad Helgi is actually taking some chances this year and bringing some pieces with a more post-modern edge. I can't imagine how wonderful the Little Mermaid must be to perform and it is a real stretch. Apart from a few flat stretches in the first half, the Little Mermaid offers the darkest kind of magic and the most sublime expression of unrequited love. If you can see it with Van Patten... so much the better, but just see it. How very sad there are only 2 more performances of it left this season.
  15. ginasf

    SFB 2010 Program 4

    Loved Petrouchka. Gennadi Nedvigin made his debut in title role -- Nedvigine has a rather sad-eyed look on his own and the makeup just enhanced it -- hard to imagine a more heart-breaking character. It's too bad this isn't more widely performed in this country; I'd love to have GinaSF's perspective. I'd have much rather seen Gennadi Nedvigin in the role than Molat who seemed like he was always about to smirk. Petrouchka was done quite a bit during the 1980s (in my review I quoted my fondness for the incredible Joffrey version). I think it's a piece which requires really expressive dancers who can act and get out of their ballet bodies. It also requires a lot of FOCUS while dancing. Gennadi is such a performer and I know what you mean about his beautiful melancholy. I think you saw the better cast. Hey, personally, I'm glad to see Frances Chung show a little fire. For a while I was really worried her promotion to principal was getting ahead of her development as a dancer. I've always thought of her as a "nice girl" dancer. Yaaawwwn. After see the Forsythe, I'm more convinced of her versatility and loved what she did.