Jump to content
This Site Uses Cookies. If You Want to Disable Cookies, Please See Your Browser Documentation. ×

SF Ballet-Pacific Magrittomania Symphony in C

Recommended Posts

Saw the Sunday matinee of this program.

Pacific: Not a big fan of this piece. Not one of Morris' best for my money. I think it really should have been choreographed on a modern dance company... the ballet moves seemed pieced onto it. But it was well danced, especially by Kristin Long and Guennadi Nedviguine.

Magrittomania: A great addition to the repertory. Yuri Possokhov might have limited choreography experience, but he certainly emerged full-blown with this piece. I love the way he linkes phrases in this work and uses focus and minimalism where needed to let the audience digest the movement (most beginners slop one movement on another until it the dance no shape or structure). The sets have some of the most imaginative use of projections I've ever seen in ballet.

I thought the one shortcoming was Benjamin Pierce in the lead. I've seen Roman Rykine do this role last year, and thought he was much better suited for it. Pierce is an excellent dancer, but is too young and powerful looking to do this role. He doesn't have an everyman look about him and sometimes, just looks too much like he's just stepped out of a Bob Fosse musical. I don't think SFB has really figured out what to do with him. Muriel Maffre was excellent doing her slinky moves and Jason Davis' solo was superb. Why isn't he a soloist yet?

Symphony In C: SF Ballet always does a good job with this warhouse. To me the standouts were Nedviguine, Lacarra and Sherri LeBlanc, who is always outstanding dancing Balanchine. The Corps could have been a little more crisp (that's been a problem so far this season) but the level of talent through the ranks of this company is impressive. I just wish there could be a little more attack in the dancing.

All in all, better than Symphony in Three Movements from the last program.

Anybody else see this program?

Link to comment

I didn't, so I'm even more grateful to your posting about it. Ballet Nut? Dirac? We have a few new San Franciscans who've joined recently as well.

The company danced "Symphony in C" in D.C. as part of the Balanchine celebration and it was the one big disappointment -- not just for me, but for quite a few people who'd seen the company dance this piece very beautifully a few years earlier. Also, "Symphony in 3 Movements" was one of the big hits of that Celebration. Several people I know from New York thought these were the most exciting performances of that ballet since it was new. I don't know whether we just have a different perspective, or the sands have shifted since the fall -- interesting to read.

Link to comment

I saw the program on Saturday night. There was a cast change in the Symphony in C, Muriel Maffre and Benjamin Pierce replaced Lucia LaCarra and Yuri Possokhov.

SFB has performed this work 3 or 4 times in the past decade and I've seen Muriel Maffre dance the 2nd movement almost every time. In this performance she was much more "relaxed" and confident in the role but somewhere along the way steps were changed and an entire sequence, including a lift, was left out! I could not believe my eyes while the music was playing and the steps were not there.

Alexandra had warned that she didn't think the SFB were doing the regular version on their tour of Washington D.C. last year. She was right and I'm very sad to confirm this. It says in the slick program, "Staged by Bonita Borne, under the direction of John Taras". In years past the company has performed this work with what I would consider the regular choregraphy (with and without Maffre) but why it has been changed I can't imagine.

Magrittomania was quite a fun romp and a very ambitious work for a new and young choregrapher. Surrealism as an art mode isn't frequently encountered on the ballet stage. The male dancers were dressed in black suits and bowler hats with the women in long dresses with white "cups" over their breast. By the end of the ballet the women were wearing the bowlers and some were in jackets. The wonderful ppd was danced with Yuan Yuan Tan and Roman Rykine. Not a work I'd want to see every 3 or 4 years but interesting to watch. The music contained a variety of Beethoven's works (Sym. #3, Concerto #5) as arranged by Yuri Krasavin a Russian film composer (or "borrower"). This was a strike against the ballet as Beethoven's music, however wonderful, doesn't "dance" (and I include the so called 7th Symphony "the Dance").

Now, where's that Balanchine cop when you need them!

Donald Gray

Link to comment

Donald, good to read you :) Sometimes the version done changes with the stager -- people stage what they know -- but there's also been a concerted effort by the Balanchine Trust to standardize versions of the ballets. I don't know what happened in this case. I just remember that when I first saw SFB dance "Symphony in C" a few years ago, they did what I remembered as an older version -- there were details in it (some port de bras, some actual steps) that I hadn't realized I'd been missing in recent years until I saw them again.

My comments in the post above were more comparing the way the company was dancing than the versions. But October was six months ago, there may have been injuries here, etc.

Thanks for these reports -- more please :) SFB has one of the longest, richest seasons in ballet and some terrific dancers, and I'm sure many of us would like to read about them often.

Link to comment

Sandpaper Ballet is probably Morris' most successful piece for SFB--well, it's my favorite at least. As I remember, SFB also does a pretty good rendition of Drink To Me Only With Thine eyes. Many people have also enjoyed his Maelstrom, but I personally found it a bit monotonous. Unfortunately, I was unable to make any of the performances of Pacific this time, or of his new work, A Garden, so I have no comments on those. Anyway, Sandpaper Ballet is an upbeat work set to very familiar tunes by Leroy Anderson [sleigh Ride, The Syncopated Clock, The Typewriter, among many others]. It is a charming and witty piece, and, as with most of his works, every dancer in it gets his or her fifteen minutes of fame. I recommend it highly.

PS. Ralph, I agree with what you said about SFB not knowing what to do with Benjamin Pierce. Hopefully he'll find his niche and we'll see more of him.

[ 04-24-2001: Message edited by: BalletNut ]

Link to comment

As regards to "Sandpaper Ballet" I think it's one of Mark Morris most American works with the use of Leroy Anderson tunes and the amount of skipping and pony tail bouncing that is exhibited. In the words of one of my favorite posters with his/her remarks on another ballet (La Vivandiere), "bouncy, bouncy, bouncy, cheery, cheery, cheery". Well, there's not much harm in dancers as well as the audience having fun. What I'm most interested in hearing is how the French are going to respond to this work when the SFB performs in Paris.

And thanks, Alexandra for your remarks on the SFB. The company has grown and have challenged themselves with both outside works and "in-house" choregraphy. James Kudelka, David Bintley, Paul Taylor among others are all choregraphers that have works performed by them. Unfortunately, their season is almost concluded but next week I have tickets for the POB's La Bayadere.

Donald Gray

Link to comment

SFB present two programms in Paris, one including Sandpaper, Prism, Night and Chaconne by Thomasson and the other programm with Lubovich'Otello.

What do you think of all this works ?


I will be happy to see Fanfare, it's a Robbins I never saw and it seems really original with each dancer as music instrument. Luckier Londonians, who could see it. :)

Link to comment

Alexandra, re: Symphony in C staging. Here is my understanding: the Balanchine Trust does not control rights to Symphony in C. John Taras does (he got them from Betty Cage to whom Balanchine left the ballet in his will). Steps have been changed and he won't allow the ballet to be performed unless the changes are made by one of his stagers. The rights are also very expensive compared to Balanchine ballets held by the Trust. For this reason, Symphony in C has gone out of the rep of a number of companies, including PNB. Francia Russell taught Symphony in C to John T. and now he wants someone else to come make changes. It's really too bad.

[ 04-25-2001: Message edited by: doug ]

Link to comment

I knew Taras had the rights to stage certain ballets ("La Sonnambula" is another one) and that he charged a great deal; I didn't know he was now subcontracting them out, as it were.

Because ballets aren't as concrete as books or paintings, their afterlife will always be difficult--we're starting to see it in Balanchine, but I don't think it's anything new. At the Ballet Russe conference last summer, one BR ballerina, asked about which Massine ballets she'd like to see revived, reportedly said, "None. When I see what they've done to other ballets, I think it's better to just let them die."

Link to comment
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
  • Create New...