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Program 7 2012: Divertimento No. 15, Scotch Symphony, The Four Tempera

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This has turned out to be a great and beautifully realized Balanchine triple bill. Divertimento #15 is much stronger than last time around - and who would have thought it could look as radical a restatement of the rules of ballet as The Four Temperaments.

In Vito Mazzeo is a great post-Adam Luders Phlegmatic, with an incredible sense of plastic space - competing with the brilliant Sofiane Sylve, Choleric and Taras Domitro, Melancholic. In the three ballets you see all sorts of new things - like the lovely, Nijinska-like thatched hut that the corps constructs, piece by piece, over the two soloists at the end of Scotch Symphony. Eyse Borne, Maria Calegari & Bart Cook were the Trust's repetiteurs.

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That must have been a terrific program. I have only seen part of Divertimento #15 on the Balanchine videos. I think it only has the andante section, but it is gorgeous. The Four Temperaments is fun to see how each temperament is depicted through dance. Scotch Symphony is also a joy! It is so true how we see new things each time we see a ballet. It always pays to see something again. I have a friend who thinks I'm dumb to see something I've already seen. Can't understand that attitude! You miss so much the first time you see something!

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One never sees a ballet being performed twice the same way, even it it is the same ballet with the same performer.

Very true – your eye seems to respond in its own different tempo of notice each time.


Scotch Symphony is also a joy!

Yes, especially the last ten minutes which are full of add ons and second thoughts. It’s like Giselle in reverse – and at one point the corps surrounds the two soloist in the shapes of crosses in a cemetery.

I saw SS with a couple of casts. Joan Boada captured the Eglevsky grand silhouette, overlaid with Boada’s own wonderful sense of timing and retard. Maria Kochetkova was light and spritely whereas Vanessa Zahorian was more reserved and contemplative, perhaps like Emma, or Miss Brooke with Will Ladislaw. Taras Domitro had nice, light shadings of character, and his beats in the finale were quick and rolling as a Scottish burr. His Melancholic was slightly less pungent than that of three years ago, with seemingly fewer full stops and ruptures in the fabric of the dance, but nonetheless quite compelling. Again Vito Mazzeo’s Phlegmatic – is he a surveyer in a small village? – was fascinating to watch as he measured off and recomputed space, and as he folded his long arms and legs to fit into a tiny part of the bird's nest he and his partners had made.

But over the week the dancing seemed to grow more tenuous, or else my eye received it as such. There were also too many smiles and knowing smiles, most unforgivable in the andante of Divertimento and in the prelude of the Four Temperaments. They look like an apology for the seriousness of the dancer’s craft.

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  1. I caught a couple of different casts too. (sorry, can't get rid the the number 1.!)
    My favorite performance by far was Dores Andre as the Highland Dancer in Scotch Symphony on Friday night. She stole the show from the central couple (a lovely Van Patten and rather stolid Helimets), sashaying around the stage like a miniature General. She was utterly adorable without descending into cutsey-poo. Love to see her Swanhilda.
    On Saturday afternoon, corp member Kristina Lind debuted as Choleric in 4Ts. She danced well, but I thought she looked remarkably cheerful for somebody who’s supposed to be royally PO’d about something or other. Plus, she’s Somova-like lanky -- there’s no push/pull tension in her movements, so her limbs look like they’re about the fly off in any direction.
  2. (or 2.)
    And keep an eye on little Nicole Ciapponi, who has been getting some non-corp roles since she joined last year. She did the Highland Dancer at the Saturday matinee without coming close to Andre’s personality, but she’s very young and, apparently, she can do anything technically; just need to see if the artistry is there. Plus physically she’s something of a throwback to female dancers of the ‘50s: she’s small and roundish (relatively speaking, of course), with a feminine shape that, to my eye at least, greatly enhances her line. It will be fun seeing how she develops over the next few seasons.

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Peggy R, I saw the last performance of the program, and Ciapponi was dazzling as the red-sox girl. This from the balcony!

I wrote about the Friday night show for the BAR;


"San Francisco Ballet dances these three works in a way that is its own, and acceptable, but if you've seen the ballets before they look distorted. The big difference is that SFB is a man's company, where the men are expansive and the women hold back. They "lower their voices." They smile a lot, soften their shoulders, repress their wilder ideas. Whereas Balanchine's company was a woman's company – the women were strong, square-shouldered, high-energy, incisive, dramatic creatures, stars with the charisma of Katharine Hepburn, and a way like hers of being recognizably modern American women. Not all of them were as abrasive as Kate, but each was sovereign in her way."

WOnder if you'd a gree with that.

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