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Gala Casting

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SFB has announced the casting and program for their opening night gala:

Opening Night Gala Evening

1/24/2007, 8pm


Music: Tape

Casting: Nicolas Blanc*, Pascal Molat*,

Pierre-François Vilanoba



Conductor: Martin West

Casting: Vanessa Zahorian, Gonzalo Garcia*


Music: Tape

Casting: Davit Karapetyan



Piano: Michael McGraw

Casting: Nutnaree Pipit-Suksun, Pierre-François Vilanoba


Piano: Roy Bogas

Casting: Molly Smolen


Conductor: Martin West

Casting: Kristin Long, Joan Boada*



Conductor: Martin West

Viola: Paul Ehrlich

Casting: Lorena Feijoo, Tiit Helimets


Violin: Roy Malan

Piano: Michael McGraw

Casting: Yuan Yuan Tan*, Damian Smith*


Conductor: Martin West

Casting: Tina LeBlanc, Gennadi Nedvigin*


Baritone: Mark Crayton

Casting: Muriel Maffre*


Conductor: Martin West

Casting: Sarah Van Patten*, Garrett Anderson*, Elana Altman*, Ruben Martin, Rachel Viselli*, Moises Martin*, Elizabeth Miner, Jaime Garcia Castilla* and corps de ballet

If anyone sees this, we'd love to hear about it! :)

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It is interesting to see that the gala included Jacques Garnier's trio "Aunis", was it already in the SFB's repertory ? I notice that it is with an all-French cast :thanks: But what a pity it was with taped music- I saw it several times with accordion music played on stage (one of the players was Maurice Pacher, the score's composer) and it really added much emotion to the performance.

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As discussed in the Lincoln Center thread, the Gala reaffirmed that contemporary pieces better suit SFB. There were a few hits, but I was more disappointed in the casting--why Tomasson assigns beautiful classical dancers to non-classical pieces and those who excel in contemporary works in the most classical pas de deux is beyond me.

(-) Sleeping Beauty Act III pdd: I wasn’t thrilled with Tomasson’s SB several years ago and was trying to approach this season with a neutral perspective, but the Gala pdd didn’t help one bit. Gonzalo Garcia excels in contemporary reps, as was the case with Sin Regreso in Gala 2005. Perhaps it was the complete disconnect btwn his focus/attn and gesturing arm, or seeming VERY uninterested from the beginning, or his rough (and later unstable) partnering; he didn’t come across as Prince Desiree. Vanessa Zahorian was very technical and academic as always. They’re a good match up physically but I prefer them in something more contemporary/Balanchine.

(-) Giselle Act II pdd: Great gala piece, but not my choice of dancers. Lorena is very strong in both classical and contemporary pieces, but Giselle is not her role. (Would’ve loved DonQ again, Lambarena, …smile with my heart.) In a striking contrast, Tiit was almost too somber and subtle, you didn’t know who was dead and who was mourning. I might like to see them in the full production though. To best showcase his beautiful dancers, Tomasson could have casted Tina LeBlanc and Guennadi Nedviguine here (instead of the Gerald Arpino piece). I’ve never seen their partnership for Giselle, but loved them separately in 2005. I would be happy *just* to see GN do those GORGEOUS entrechat sixes!

Side note on costume: I hate being distracted by something so silly but SFB must revamp their wardrobe with the $30 mil they raised on this evening. Prince Albrecht wears a faded black top with gray tights (Tiit wore something slightly different, with a “stripe shirt” showing underneath); how about all slate, dark gray, or black? Anything to make him look the part, he’s royalty!

(-) SYMPHONY IN C was utter, visual diarrhea in black and white—not at all the dancers’ fault. On the contrary, the corps was surprisingly very together. I have yet to experience a breath-taking moment in the world of Balanchine.

(+) Absolutely loved Yuan Yuan Tan and Damian Smith in Christopher Wheeldon’s pdd from AFTER THE RAIN. So beautiful, I’m at a loss for words and certainly won’t do justice to the piece. I hope you saw it too, or you get to see them perform this at some point…

(+) LAST BREATH: wow! This piece is packed with high energy and tricks but boy did Davit Karapetyan look good. His use of space and floor was boundless and his movements were so fluid. This piece showed a whole different side of DK from what I knew (a classically technical dancer in Swan Lake 2006), I’d like to see him in more modern!

(+) Molly Smolen’s BRAHMS WALTZES IN THE MANNER OF ISADORA DUNCAN, what a great choice! She’s so captivating and expressive, she made me wonder who else is SFB is capable of such a portrayal. I look forward to seeing her in a variety of repertoire this season.

(+) SOIRÉES MUSICALES: The energy of this piece fit Kristen Long and Joan Boada very well. In fact the choreography was perfect for Kristen, who looked very at home, esp in those double step-up arabesque endehors(?) :thanks: Joan is such a wonderful partner but he wasn’t his usual best. His performance was fine by most stds but he is better and capable of more if given a different piece. I thought he was fighting the choreography a bit in his solo, but then he’ll do a simple sauté (or that crazy tour, land in coupee and up into another dbl tour) and my heart flutters. It may not hurt to redo their costume here too, as they looked very much like a figure skating pair.

Estelle, re: Aunis, there may have been a switch in the program from Other Dances. I'd certainly love to see it with live music!

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Giselle Act II pdd: [ ... ] Tiit was almost too somber and subtle, you didn’t know who was dead and who was mourning.
I love that phrase !!!

And thanks, tikititatata, for your comments. It's good to have an adidtional eye, sensibility, and voice from San Francisco.

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(-) SYMPHONY IN C was utter, visual diarrhea in black and white—not at all the dancers’ fault. On the contrary, the corps was surprisingly very together. I have yet to experience a breath-taking moment in the world of Balanchine.

It is odd you should find Balanchine so diarrhetic, especially from a company headed by one of his more favorite dancers. You seem to suggest the fault is Balanchine's and not the dancers. Or are you suggesting the fault lies somewhere else?

I've seen a dramatic swerve in the company from Balanchine (e.g., Glovia Govrin & Sandy Jennings leaving) to a more Classical focus over the last few years. I didn't see the Gala but given the new emphasis, it's no wonder that a Balanchine Ballet was wanting.

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