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San Francisco Ballet: City Center

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Opening Night, October 10, 2008

San Francisco Ballet's City Center season began with an ideal curtain-raiser, Mr. B's Divertimento No. 15. Theme was Taras Domitro and Ruben Martin, with Variations, in order, danced by Elizabeth Miner, Frances Chung, Rachel Viselli, Vanessa Zahorian, Gennadi Nedvigin and Tina LeBlanc. As would be expected, having seen this company a couple of summers ago at Lincoln Center, these dancers and the corps were ready and able. There were some high points, and none higher than Ms. Viselli's radiant third variation. It is one where the dancer smiles, and she did, but in a way that should be studied by many a NYCB ballerina. For her smile changed, always the right choice, varying in a completely natural way, as much within the music as Mr. B's steps, which in themselves were beautifully phrased and amplified by the ballerina. Very much artistry (facial and emotional expression) appropriate to Mr. B, from the steps, but understanding that steps are not just for the feet. Gennadi Nedvigin's solo variation was a model of musicality. At Lincoln Center his classicism stood out, not a virtuoso, but with noble style. He was so connected with the music (very ably conducted by Martin West) tonight that the steps seemed inevitable, much as does Mozart's music. Tina LeBlanc was full of light dancing the major variation. Later the third duet was raised above the norm by Ms. Viselli (no smiles here, this dancer just seems to know Mr. B) and Mr. Nedvigin. The same could be said for the grand duet, for him and Ms. LeBlanc. Overall, a very harmonious, company-oriented performance. Not the new wildly daring sort of dancing that has recently come out of the blue at NYCB (please, Mr. B, keep up this magical influence from on high!), but really an impressively whole performance by San Francisco Ballet.

Next came Christopher Wheeldon's Within the Golden Hour. Having just seen his City Center season, I tended to focus on the dancers rather than the choreography. This was our first look at the major new ballerina Maria Kochetkova. The first of the three main PdD's was for Katita Waldo and Damian Smith, but it was pretty much standard Wheeldon. He didn't seem at full creative strength for the third either, though it was not difficult to keep one's eyes glued on brilliant Mashusha Kochetkova, neatly partnered by Joan Boada. Still, we NY'ers can only dream of a Kochetkova/Sylve Giselle/Myrtha. Lucky San Francisco... But there was a PdD between these two, danced by Sarah van Patten and Pierre-Francois Vilanoba, and for me Mr. Wheeldon hit the bulls-eye. The dance and music gave an Eastern effect, erotic and sweet, yet bitter-sweet too, a kind of feeling one might get from an early Satyajit Ray movie. It began like it would be too "Wheeldon" with the woman on the floor being manipulated by the man, but sustained emotional depth soon took control as they weaved an endless strand of dance together. Then he was on the floor, she en pointe between his feet, and he partnered her by holding her ankle as she slowly bent and flowed, with perfect control, till all that was left was to raise her parallel above his body and gently bring her down. Stunningly beautiful and the audience responded accordingly. Mr. Wheeldon can do finales, and this ballet's with 14 dancers swaying side to side among each other brought the house down.

The last ballet didn't stand a chance after this. Yuri Possokhov's Fusion was star-studded. But the obvious lead dancer was Yuan Yuan Tan, as if an angel on a private cloud, almost seeming to be dancing for herself alone, unreal yet for that all the more real. A gift of beauty to end an impressive first night.

From mid-mezzanine the big bucks seats ahead and mid-mezzanine itself looked very full, with just a few seats sold behind.

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San Francisco Ballet at City Center, NYC

October 12, 2008 - 3 p.m.

Program B

After two days of the mixed blessings of the Suzanne Farrell Ballet in my hometown, it was welcome relief to hop on the Amtrak for an afternoon of world-class ballet in New York, at the City Center Theater, with another SFB...this time, the San Francisco Ballet, dancing its 'Program B' (the stars are my ratings):

****The Fifth Season (Tomasson/Jenkins, 2006) - Lorena Feijoo/Joan Boada, Nutnaree Pipit-Suksun/Tiit Helimets, Sofiane Sylve/Igor Popov and ensemble.

A fabulous ballet to gorgeous music, with tasteful silvery-blue unitards and mood-enhancing lighting and panel-paintings. It was a real treat to see Sylve once again, tearing throgh the Tango section with her explosive jetes. Also fab to see the SFB's newest principal, the wide-eyed-and-gorgeous ex-Kirov soloist, Ivan Popov. However, the greatest kudos of this ballet are reserved for Pipit-Suksun and Helimets, for their lyrically melting Largo, which had everybody around me in center-Orchestra section sighing in delight. As the leading pair, the fabulous Cubans, Feijoo and Boada, did not disappoint...it's just that the others were that more impressive. This seems to be a Golden Era for the SFB, with so many exceptional dancers at all ranks.

*****Concerto Grosso (Tomasson/Geminiani, 2003)

The briefest ballet on view -- 10 minutes -- was Da Hit of the day, thanks to its five incredible interpreters: Gennadi Nevigin as lead, with Diego Cruz, Daniel Deivison, Taras Domingo & Isaac Hernandez. WOW! WOW! WOW! This ballet MUST be added to the Orange Co. and DC tours in November, as it is 100% guaranteed to drive those audiences bananas with joy. A Canto Vital for the new millenium! It is hard to say who, among the five incredible soloists, was the best, as each one drove the audience to a volley of 'bravos' and 'woo-hoos'. From the leader in red, Nedviguin, with his impossibly quick 'cockscrew pirouettes' on a dime...to Isaac Hernandez' (dark blue) high back cabrioles and smooth turns in both directions...to Taras Domitro's (pale grey) finesse, line, balance...to Daniel Deivison (green) explosive jetes renverses....to the real humdinger among these men: an amazing brown-haired lad in teal, Diego Cruz, with textbook-perfect, high double tours. Bravi Tutti!!!! I was exhausted...and ready for an encore, if possible. This ballet alone was well worth the 3-hour Amtrak ride in both directions, in one day.

* intermission *

half-a-star: Joyride (Morris/Adams, 2008) - Martin Garside, Dana Genshaft, Ruben Martin, Elizabeth Miner, Pascal Molat, James Sofranko, Jennifer Stahl and Sarah Van Patten

Where was the "joy" in Joyride? This ballet is a pretentious load of crock with one very cool visual image that got old after about 5 minutes: the eight dancers wear gold or silver spandex bodysuits with little LED screens on their chests, displaying constantly-changing digital numbers. Perpetual motion to a bombastic Adams score. Nothing beautiful, nothing touching, nothing that does justice to a fine group of dancers. There were glimmers of talent among the bombast, especially a sassy blonde in silver, Elizabeth Miner; tall redheaded Sarah Van Patten as the leading girl in gold; and her ultra-handsome partner, Pascal Molat, who we would get to better assess and love in the last ballet on view, Four Ts. Sad, sad waste of fabulous dancers' talents. By the time that the final freeze-tableau came about, I could hear a couple of snores among my neighbors. Time just went on and on and on....zzzzzz.....

* intermission *

**** Four Temperaments (Balanchine/Hindemith, 1946)

Theme 1 - Lily Rogers/Daniel Deivison

Theme 2 - Jennifer Stahl/Brett Bauer

Theme 3 - Dana Genshaft/Mateo Klemmayer

Melancholic - Pascal Molat

Sanguinic - Vanessa Zahorian/Joan Boada

Phlegmatic - Damian Smith...and four out-of-this-world corps ladies...best ever!

Choleric - Elana Altman

and ensemble

Where to begin on Four Ts by the SFB? It was without a doubt the best performance of this ballet that I've seen, live or on film...NYCB, Kirov, DTHarlem, Miami, you name 'em. The SFB rendition is so clear, so crystaline, so pure and spot-on. Everything that Nancy Goldner writes about this ballet in her insightful book, Balanchine Variations , was presented on the stage of the City Center yesterday afternoon - clear as a bell and a total delight. It also included some extraordinary performances -- namely Molat's Melancholic, Altman's sharp Choleric and -- surprise! -- four flirty-perfect corps ladies 'teasing' Smith's Phlegmatic, collectively brining back memories of the NYCB 1970s corps gal, Nina Fedorova, who was a standout in this quartet. [For the record - SFB's FabFour are Ludmilla Campos, Courtney Clarkson, Kristina Lind and Mariellen Olson, according to the Playbill...assuming no substitutes.] There was a volley of 'bravos' at the end of this ballet, with partial standing-o in my section. A spirited ending to a nearly-perfect program.

I am looking forward to seeing the other two programs next weekend. Diego Cruz and the rest of the amazing dancers of the San Francisco Ballet are absolutely worth another ride on the ol' Amtrak. :thumbsup:

p.s. - For all of you who, like me, follow the trends in up-and-coming-dancers around the world much like sports fans follow rookies on teams...San Francisco's Diego Cruz very much resembles the Stuttgart Ballet's current male star, Friedeman Vogel, in both looks and style. In other words, Cruz could be the Toast of Tokyo (and beyond), someday.

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I'm afraid that I can't agree with Natalia. I thought both "The Fifth Season" and "Concerto Grosso" were very minor ballets; the latter was all jumps and footwork and not much else. That said, the dancers were terrific. The best thing about "Joyride," besides the dancers, were the costumes (minus the very gimmicky "electronic" screens on the front of each costume). I thought the SFB did a very good job with The 4 T's; however, it wasn't nearly as good as the

best that that NYCB has done, both in the recent past, and further back (I only go back 30 years). Pascal Molat was the one exception -- he was truly superb. I also attended Friday night and found this the more outstanding program. The men in SFB are in a class of their own: the best I have seen in one company in

a long time. The women, however, in my opinion -- and with a few exceptions (especially Yuan Yuan Tan who is most breathtaking) -- are not

as stunning (witness the clunky soloists in one section of yesterday's 4 T's). I am also looking forward to program #3.

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It is remarkable how Program B's ballets can receive such diverse evaluations, yet the dancers can still impress in them. I attended the Sunday matinee performance, and casting probably helped in terms of Tomasson's The Fifth Season. Two summers ago just a PdD from this work was shown, it had its likers and dislikers, and I was on the dis side. Although there are moments, I'm still dis. However, the dancers!

Each of the three lead couples was certainly entertaining. Lorena Feijoo (Joan Boada) danced with sizzling virtuosity, and if I agree with Natalia that they placed third, that is no disrespect to them, just a measure of the others' exceptional dancing. And, in part, surely a measure of my joy in seeing Sofiane Sylve back in NYC. She just came out on that stage with a knowing confidence and smile that said "New Yorkers, I still own you!" And what a contrast/match with Ivan Popov: has any of her NYCB partners ever displayed her better? Just before she left the stage: that wiggling of her left leg from the knee, ahhhh, that's our sexy Sofiane! Immediately following came the perfection of Feijoo/Boada's Romance. Then back came high-flying La Sylve in Tango. I'm not sure whether she was turning three boys into men, or melting three men into boys. But that is the "La" in Sylve...

Nutnaree Pipit-Suksun followed in Largo, with Tiit Helimets. She was a major "discovery" during that Lincoln Center summer, and I've been kind of surprised to not read glowing reviews flowing out of San Francisco since. Well, that lyrical magic is still there. And at the end, secure in her perfect partner's arms, the music stretching, breathing, sighing up her body and through her melting arms.... Technical perfection, overpowering charisma, the ineffable. Three ballerinas, suggesting San Francisco Ballet isn't only men.

Tomasson's Concerto Grosso was only men. To me, Isaac Hernandez, the 18-year old from Mexico, was the story. There seems to be some "Bolshoi" power there, a kind of Spartak potential.

I usually like Mark Morris, but just could not get involved in Joyride, that just seemed a frenetic ride to nowhere. However, Mr. Macaulay of the Times liked it toward the end, by which time I'd faded out.

David Briskin conducted Mr. B's The Four Temperaments. While I was very disappointed at not getting to see two of my favorite San Francisco ballerinas (they danced Saturday night's 4 T's) Sarah van Patten and Sofiane Sylve, this still turned out to be the highlight of Program B. The choreography, of course, but also the quality of the company. Pascal Molat justly drew a prolonged and loud response from the audience for his intense Melancholic. And quality continued through Vanessa Zahorian/Joan Boada's Sanquinic and Damian Smith's Phlegmatic. I was sure to be let down by Sofiane Sylve's absence from Choleric. But Elena Altman defied the odds, came on with great authority, full amplitude, and delivered a powerful lead into the ballet's ultimately grand finale. While I missed the freedom of NYCB's Corps, this was a truly fine performance.

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Thanks all for the wonderfully descriptive and thoughtful reviews. Here's a link to Susan Reiter 's carefully observed comments in danceviewtimes. (Helene linked it yesterday in the daily press summary.)


Reiter saw the Oct. 10 program -- the same one that drb talks aobut above, and Macaulay in the Times.

There seems to be quite a lot of disagreement about the Wheeldon. Anyone else want to weigh in on this?

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I saw the "Within the Golden Hour" at the New Works festival last spring in San Francisco, and as usual with Wheeldon's things I initially liked it a lots, but then something in me always puts the brakes on. In Golden Hour there's lots of great dancing for twos, and twos & twos, fresh and vinegary with crisp lines, with lots of striking silhouettes of women in frozen X shapes being lifted and carried horizontally off stage. (A bit like lawn furniture being put away for the winter.)

But it seemed to be disconcertingly and distractingly packed with quotes from Balanchine. In one place there was Apollo and Orpheus, in another a quote from Somnabula with the ballerina fluttered back out on point as she would in Somnabula, while the man was rolling on all fours quoting Bart Cook in Stravinksy Violin Concerto. The ending seemed to be a reference to the 4 Ts tomato red ending except the group was smaller--they were planted at the center of the stage and their movement was limited to a back and forth of upper bodies.

I found it all brilliant--like a jabbery whiz-kid with a cigar out of Gaddis or somewhere--but in doing this, it preempts or masks the dancers vulnerability to each other and the music (which is already pretty prickly).

As far as the real Four Temperaments and San Francisco's Balanchines in general, I find Alastair Macaulay's comment about SFB lack of "attack and momentum" and their "demureness and containment" to be key. They need a Stanley Williams spiritual advisor somewhere in the background.

In case they haven't been posted lately, here are some links to clips and short documentaries on New Yorks, and interviews with Wheeldon and Mark Morris.

KQED Spark documentaries (part 2 & 3 are still working)

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I saw them on Satuday night -- things of note -- Yuan Yuan has the most expressive legs, they're not long, but she extends them as far as possible, and the speed and clarity with which she moves them, they're what your eyes goes to and stays on. "Concerto Grosso" - great eye candy -- though some had better (tighter) upper bodies than others. "Joyride" had some wonderful moments of music and movement, and some boring moments of movement and music -- should be edited. Their "4 T's" was a revelation -- theirs had a warmth and heart that NYCB doesn't -- after seeing SF's version, NYCB's comes across has if they are sleep walking thru it, I think NYCB should retire their "4 T's" for awhile. Also, Sofiane looked at home with SFB, but she should be careful of her weight, heavier and her line gets fuzzy and loses it's sharpness. She's the biggest woman at SFB. She reminded me of Monique Meunier -- except without Monique's musicality and lightness -- but they are big girls who could do anything.

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I saw opening night, October 10, 2008 (Friday) and the next night's, Saturday's performance.

Sofiane Sylve, as always, was very impressive in 4Ts (Choleric). Strong, solid, tall, gorgeous, big with movement quality, she dominates the stage whenever she enters. She is missed sorely at NYCB, and I wonder if SFB will be enough for her, as there seems to be no male-match partner there yet at SFB.

Sarah Van Patten was also excellent in 4Ts Sanguinic with sharp attack and a hypnotic presence. She danced a sexy, sensuous part in Golden Hour too. Van Patten is fair, beautiful, strong, a more delicate version of a Sylve-type dancer. Fine technique is only the beginning in enjoying these two womanly dancers. And to see them both in the same ballet (4Ts), dancing next to each other, was a huge delight.

Of the many fine men at SFB, I was completely thrilled with the debut of Taras Domitro in Melancholic of 4Ts. A young, very flexible, wirey, long-limbed man, he was so daring and full of passion for this role. Not one step was done safely without full extreme. Domitro has some rough edges to smooth, but I am so happy I'll be seeing him again in 4Ts on the 16th. This time, I might just skip the other three ballets preceding 4Ts though..... especially Morris' not-at-all Joyride. What poor programing. I'm sure many in the audience left before the best (4Ts) arrived, just because it was really getting boring/repetitive....

Divert #15, on opening night was a bit of a disappointment too for me, except for Ruben Martin who was a handsome presence with sexy, elegant, musically-sensitive, manly-full movements. But Divert is about women and they were just ok, a nice dress rehearsal for the most part... They all danced very well, but not beautifully.

There was one girl in the corps of Divert, who has danced in nearly everything I've seen so far including Wheeldon's Golden Hour. Dark, petite, very pretty. I wish I knew her name, as I had a hard time taking my eyes off of her. Very musical, gorgeously feminine, as well as strong in whatever speed or technique was required. I hope she's learning lots of soloist parts.

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I was able to see the Saturday evening performance. I'd seen the new works during the spring in San Francisco so I knew what to expect. The dancing was great as always. Helgi's choreography (5th season and Concerto Grosso) are good pieces for showing off his company, which they certainly did. I'm still not sure what to think about Joyride. It isn't very joyous - even some karate-style kicks here and there. But the choreography seems to match the John Adams muscular music, which also straightarms the listeners into their seats on occasion. I enjoy the architecture of choreography more than the story-telling, so I usually like Mark Morris' work.

After seeing Sarah Van Patten and Tiit Helimits do Diamonds in the spring, I was looking forward to see them do Sanguinic. I thought they were terrific, and the 4Ts was the highlight of the evening for me. Sofiane Sylvie was great - and with amazing presence. She grabbed my attention the whole time she was on stage.

My biggest surprise of the evening was the performance of the orchestra. I don't know who they are (or perhaps they are contracted for this run only?) but they were together, in tune, and musical. I wasn't expecting to hear much for the 4Ts - it's a tough piece - but they gave a first-rate performance. I'm glad Martin West, San Francisco Ballet music director was conducting so he could push his home team a little harder.

I'm sorry I won't get to see the other programs in New York. I was hoping to see New Yorker's reactions to the new Jorma Elo piece. It was much more controversial than the Wheeldon or Morris pieces at its premiere in San Francisco - it almost caused fistfights in Jardiniere afterwards. :wink:

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Of the many fine men at SFB, I was completely thrilled with the debut of Taras Domitro in Melancholic of 4Ts. A young, very flexible, wirey, long-limbed man, he was so daring and full of passion for this role. Not one step was done safely without full extreme.

Great to hear that Taritas is doing fine just initiated as a Principal. I hope for the best future to this graceful young dancer, and I applaud him for putting-(or keeping)- the Cuban Style one more time on the American balletic map. BRAVO! :wink:

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I saw the "Within the Golden Hour" ... with lots of striking silhouettes of women in frozen X shapes being lifted and carried horizontally off stage. (A bit like lawn furniture being put away for the winter.)

:wink: I'm not sure I'll ever be able to take either ballet or lawn furniture seriously again!

I was hoping to see New Yorker's reactions to the new Jorma Elo piece. It was much more controversial than the Wheeldon or Morris pieces at its premiere in San Francisco - it almost caused fistfights in Jardiniere afterwards.

I'm curious about the reaction too. I was among the few who absolutely loathed it (although I managed to avoid getting involved in any fist fights).

Thanks for all the reviews. It's always interesting to hear what the rest of the world thinks about my 'home team'.


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I attended Program A on Fri evening, Program B on Sat evening and Program C last night. Of all the new premieres, I liked the Wheeldon "Within the Golden Hour" the best. All of Helgi's new ballets were pleasant and well danced, but not particularly memorable. My favorite performance of the run was the Four T's, and in particular the Melancholic performance of Taras Domitro. He was mesmerizing. As to Elo's Double Evil, the audience seemed to love it. It was not to my taste. It seemed like a pointless aerobics exercise, without any beauty or depth.

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I'm afraid that I can't agree with Natalia. I thought...."Concerto Grosso" ....was all jumps and footwork and not much else.

Ah but what dancers we saw! To heck with the choreography!!! How can one separate the Dancer from The Dance? Concerto Grosso as performed by those five SFB virtuosi guys IS a five-star ballet. The audience around me, going bananas as they cheered, seemed to agree. I'm only sorry that I can't be in NY tomorrow night, to see the final performance of the piece on this tour.

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Again, I must respectfully disagree, Natalia. There is-- or can be -- a very big difference between the choreography and the dancer.

In a perfect world they are both on the same level. However, as in the case of "Concerto Gross," the dancers were wonderful but the

choreography was not.

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in the case of "Concerto Gross," the dancers were wonderful but the

choreography was not.

I thought the dancers in Concerto Grosso were fantastic, but the "choreography" looked like classroom steps for an advanced men's class at a ballet academy.

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The choreography is pedestrian, but I think given its context, it does what it may have been planned to do.

Stealing from an article I wrote for Ballet Review regarding the company's last NYC appearance at Lincoln Center in '06:

There is something decorously salacious about Tomasson’s Concerto Grosso, like artfully draped and partially exposed Victorian nudes that were acceptable to put in the house because they were Art. Tomasson knows his market, and right now whatever the orientation of the audience, pretty boys in unitards sell tickets. But Tomasson’s dialogue with his audience isn’t only with its libido. At the time of Concerto Grosso’s premiere in 2003, Pascal Molat, a powerful technician with a muscular body, was new to the company. The ballet introduced him to the audience. Molat was promoted a few months later; of the other four men, Hansuke Yamamoto was promoted to soloist in 2005 and the remaining three (Garrett Anderson, Jaime Garcia Castilla and Rory Hohenstein) were all promoted to soloist this year. In 2003, Tomasson showed San Francisco a preview of what was to come and in 2006 showed New York his anointed group.
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I thought the dancers in Concerto Grosso were fantastic, but the "choreography" looked like classroom steps for an advanced men's class at a ballet academy.

Exactly. I told my friend that Concerto Grosso looked like the last 10 minutes of Willie Berman's class at Steps.

I actually think that that's a good thing from an audience-building perspective. I deleted what I'd written about The Fifth Season because it was just plain rude (shorter version: "does Tomasson have a tin ear or what") but actually thought Concerto Grosso might serve a useful purpose as a nice little glossary of virtuoso male ballet technique that never goes over-the-top in terms of pointless pyrotechnic display, but simply shows how good men can look doing actual ballet steps. (I must confess here that my heart leapt up when I saw that Tomasson had put a gargouillade, of all things, into The Fifth Season.) Every now and and then I want someone to pass Wheeldon a note that says "Putting men in the air isn't necessarily vulgar pandering to the audience. You might try it a time or two." (Which he of course did in Commedia. But it would have been criminal not to unleash Ribinald Pronk's jump if one had the opportunity to do so.) It's a rant for another day, but I'm growing increasingly frustrated with choreographers who rely on ballet's more extreme effects to make shapes in space but who seem unwilling or unable to use its steps to move dancers through space.

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[.... Concerto Grosso ....the "choreography" looked like classroom steps for an advanced men's class at a ballet academy.

Is that so bad? Hey, I wouldn't mind watching a class on the stage if Isaac Hernandez and Diego Cruz (or Yuan Yuan Tan and Sofiane Sylve) are at the barre! Bring on the Etudes, Canto Vital, Tarantella, a Varna Competition, etc. I vote for the pure joy of virtuosic dancing any day - the sort of dancing that makes my heart sing. :blushing: Anything but the Mark Morris sort of stuff that puts me to sleep, sorry to say, although I'm sure that he has his fans and I respect them.

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Anything but the Mark Morris sort of stuff

Actually I was once lucky enough to be able to watch a Mark Morris piece in rehearsal at SF Ballet and it was better than the real thing in performance. There were two casts at the same time, with the big black piano in the middle, and the second cast behind was going through the parts in dreamy asides or footnotes to what was happening in front. And there were mirrors all around to further complicate things into which the dancers were losing their gazes.

But dancer over the dance comes to the same thing as in acting where people say a performer is so great she or he can read the telephone book and make it sound like Shakespeare. Lots of choreography of our period, especially in San Francisco, is the telephone book--or in the case of Christopher Wheeldon perhaps C++ or Java underscript. Wheeldon is brilliant and loquacious and magpie-ish (:Macaulay), but there are precious few glimpses into the inner lives of his characters. The overwrought Hedda Gabbler of Val Caniparoli unhappily tries to make up for this lack.

All art is about transmitting something, Manet passes on Velasquez, Juan Gris brilliantly regives us Cezanne, and Balanchine refigures and refreshes Petipa. (The Mariinsky's recent performance at Zellerbach made La Bayadere look like a soucebook for Symphony in C: beats and whisking of feet in air as a group, 180 degree turns of the corps at the sides--enigmatic reversals of judgment or kinds of petulance or various airs of indifference, etc.)

My preference is for dancing that is less brilliant and less technically proficient than the celebrated dancing of the SF men (except Joao Boada whose sense of parcelling out and repackaging time is beyond reproach) and is instead transmitting something story-like (but not a really a story) that in turn has been transmitted dancer to dancer to dancer. Eglevsky (was it Eglevsky?) to D'Amboise to Gonzalo Garcia and Vadim Solomahka in the case of SF Ballet's recent Apollo.

Yes, a brittle and rambly rant, of course, I know.

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I made a return visit to City Center yesterday to see Program B for the second time. What lured me back was the Four Ts. Taras Domitro once again was absolutely incredible in the Melancholic section. The flexibility in his back is remarkable. I thought he was breathtaking in every detail. Unfortunately, I didn't particularly care for Lorena Fejoo's interpretation of Sanguanic. I thought Sarah Van Patten was much better in the role. It was good to see Sofiane Sylve one more time in Choleric, although I think she might have been better used in the Sanguine section.

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Bingo! I almost forgot about Drink to Me Only With Thine Eyes by Morris, which I like a lot. Also, Gong is not bad. Morris appears to be 'nicer boy' when choreographing for ABT.

Morris choreographed a brilliantly fun piece, Sandpaper, for SFB a few years ago. Such an inventive and wonderful piece using a large corps. I was hoping we'd see it again this City Center season, but alas.... no.

I agree with last night's comments so far. Taras was once again beyond belief in two of the ballets presented; one was Helgi's (all males w/ many classroom-like steps), the other was (Melancholic) 4Ts. I was completely sure I had seen an angel fallen from heaven! But an angel with fire in his soul and body. This young man is a tremendous talent.

I too missed seeing Van Patten in 4Ts. Both she and Sylve are extraordinary in any ballet, especially Balanchine's. I consider myself very lucky to have seen them again last night, in any part, in any roles.

Btw, the gorgeous, dark girl in the corps, I mentioned earlier, had the night off....

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Has anyone seen the third program (reviewed here by Macauley in the NYTimes)?


I'm especially interested in hearing what people thought about the very odd-sounding Caniparoli ballet based on Ibsen heroines. Macauley makes the choreographer's choice of material seem both ambitious and odd.

The treatment of the plays (“Hedda Gabler,” “A Doll’s House,” “Ghosts,” “Lady From the Sea,” “Rosmersholm”) is both reductive (each heroine sums herself up with a single expressionistic gestural motif; but why does Nora of “A Doll’s House” keep smoothing her skirts?) and inflated (each relationship is whipped up into a frenzy of partnering). You would not know from this ballet which couples end up happily and which go to their deaths together; you do know, however, that all these women go through torments, and that all these men make matters worse.

Edited to add: Helene has posted a link to Leigh Wichel's review of this program in Danceviewtimes:


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