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SFB 2016-2017 season


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San Francisco Ballet disclosed some details of the 2016-2017 season in an email sent today to subscribers:

"If you love to see new works, you’re going to love this season, which includes the North American premiere of Liam Scarlett’s daring new Frankenstein, a co-production with The Royal Ballet, and world premieres from Jiří Bubeníček, Arthur Pita, Myles Thatcher, and Choreographer in Residence Yuri Possokhov. You'll also enjoy the return of Artistic Director and Principal Choreographer Helgi Tomasson’s Swan Lake, Christopher Wheeldon’s magical Cinderella, and works by William Forsythe, Alexei Ratmansky, and Justin Peck."

I guess the company opted for safe choices in repertoire - Swan Lake and Cinderella are always a sell-out and Frankenstein is likely to generate a great interest- but to me it doesn't look very exciting.

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Detailed 2016-2017 season has been announced:

Program 1: Haffner Symphony (Helgi Tomasson), Jiri Bubenicek (new work), In the Countenance of Kings (Justin Peckt)

Program 2: Seven Sonatas (Alexei Ratmansky), Yuri Possokhov (new work), Pas/Parts 2016 (William Forsythe)

Program 3: Frankenstein (Liam Scarlett)

Program 4: All Balanchine (Stravinsky Violin Concerto, Prodigal Son, Diamonds)

Program 5: Fusion (Yuri Possokhov), Arthur Pita (new work), Fearful Symmetries (Liam Scarlett)

Program 6: Swan Lake

Program 7: Trio (Helgi Tomasson), Myles Thatcher (new work), Within the Golden Hour (Christopher Wheeldon)

Program 8: Cinderella (Christopher Wheeldon)

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I expect there will be promotions and new hires to fill up the roster of principal dancers. I am sure Helgi wouldn't have scheduled Prodigal Son for the next season if he hadn't had dancers suitable for the role.

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Not sure where to put this, but on his public Instagram, Aaron Renteria posted that he's joining the Joffrey this coming season.

Congrats to Mr. Renteria. Perhaps this will give him more dancing opportunities.

I suppose we could create a thread for "Keeping up with SFB Dancers", but this is as good a place as any to mention changes.

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Royal Ballet's Frankenstein is taking a drumming in the press in England (see dirac's May 5 links). Wonder what form it will survive in when it comes to San Francisco next year. Unusual situation. Seemed to be a little on the wrong track in the rehearsal when Scarlett suggested to the dancer doing the role of the monster that he think of himself as a teenager going through the awkward body changes of adolescence.

Anyway congratulations to Aaron Renteria who was always a bright spot on stage – sorry for us he's leaving.

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Royal Ballet's Frankenstein is taking a drumming in the press in England (see dirac's May 5 links). Wonder what form it will survive in when it comes to San Francisco next year. Unusual situation. Seemed to be a little on the wrong track in the rehearsal when Scarlett suggested to the dancer doing the role of the monster that he think of himself as a teenager going through the awkward body changes of adolescence.

Anyway congratulations to Aaron Renteria who was always a bright spot on stage – sorry for us he's leaving.

What I'm wondering: Is Scarlett the sort of artist who will go back over his story line and choreography and make them work? I don't get that sense from him. He seems more like a "what's done is done" artist.

It occurs to me that this is one important ability that Balanchine possessed, but pretty much none of the Balanchine-wannabe's of the present age exhibit. Certainly not often.

Balanchine loved to sculpt pieces continuously - yielding mostly good, sometimes not so good, results. Making changes obviously involves some risk - the artist has to have good basic instincts, and good taste, and the ability to distance her/his self from the work. In rehearsals, Scarlett gives the impression that he can take big risks, and make leaps of faith, but if something plainly isn't working, does he fall into a defensive position and waste time trying to support his original ideas? Or can he see and fix the big picture?

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I'm definitely looking forward to seeing Scarlett's Frankenstein several times in the 2017 season irrespective of the mixed reviews and comments I've been reading in various forums. We shall see . . .

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What I'm wondering: Is Scarlett the sort of artist who will go back over his story line and choreography and make them work? I don't get that sense from him. He seems more like a "what's done is done" artist...

Yes, but in this case the stakes for the Royal Ballet and for San Fancisco seem really big. Several critics have talked about the large amounts of money spent on a drama that doesn't work (remember how little Balanchine could work with and yet make a big impact), that is too literal and doesn't have any guiding metaphors.. There was a question of why an editor wasn't around to help shape it and get it down to two acts instead of three (it runs 50 minutes / 45minutes / 30 minutes).

it's more that the reviews are lopsidedly divided than mixed, one star versus three. Clement Crisp said it was the most bizarre thing he'd seen at Covent Garden since 1946 and Mark Monahan says it's the least enjoyable full length work he's watched the Royal perform. The dancers all get great notices so that isn't the problem.

So I'm wondering how it will travel here and translate on the company – and who in San Francisco can carry the nearly three hours of high drama. It would make a good documentary film I think.

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I see date ranges for programs in 2017, but not specific dates. I am especially interested in programs 1 and 2, and it looks like one could see both (perhaps a couple times) in a long weekend. Have subscribers been told specific dates? Are they on the public site somewhere?

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I have not seen any details regarding the performance dates but in the past some mixed bill programs did overlap and it was possible to attend several performances in the course of 3-4 days.

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I see date ranges for programs in 2017, but not specific dates. I am especially interested in programs 1 and 2, and it looks like one could see both (perhaps a couple times) in a long weekend. Have subscribers been told specific dates? Are they on the public site somewhere?

The PDF version of the 2017 schedule includes date ranges only. Sorry California, no specific dates as yet. And I can't remember when they reveal these - maybe not until the late Fall?

https://www.sfballet.org/tickets/2017_season_announcement

I have not seen any details regarding the performance dates but in the past some mixed bill programs did overlap and it was possible to attend several performances in the course of 3-4 days.

Since I am now an "out-of-towner", I always choose dates where there is an overlap of programs - that's the only thing that makes it cost effective for me. Then I can see 3 or 4 performances within a 4 day period.

I do hope people come to see Frankenstein, all the same. This posting by SF Ballet's Assist. Stage Manager, Jessica Barker, is one that reminds us of the hundreds of people involved in these productions (whether good, bad, or simply boring) - it takes a 'village' of hard workers to put on any ballet or opera:

https://www.instagram.com/p/BFAhFsFsj_u/?taken-by=sfballet

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I'm very curious about the Frankenstein, but yes, it's getting some real negative press right now. Mark Monahan in the Daily Telegram -- "

the least enjoyable full-evening work I have ever seen the Royal Ballet perform."

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I have also heard less than positive things about Frankenstein but look forward to it anyway. Why it seems so hard for people to understand that art is subjective is beyond me lol. I would also like to second that it takes an entire village to put a production on. Last year I was fortunate enough to receive a backstage tour in San Francisco. The amount of work required by so many to put these shows on is crazy inspiring. It is a true team effort from the costumes to the steps, decor, sound etc.

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I have also heard less than positive things about Frankenstein but look forward to it anyway. Why it seems so hard for people to understand that art is subjective is beyond me lol. I would also like to second that it takes an entire village to put a production on. Last year I was fortunate enough to receive a backstage tour in San Francisco. The amount of work required by so many to put these shows on is crazy inspiring. It is a true team effort from the costumes to the steps, decor, sound etc.

So true, JumpFrog.

I'm reminded once again of the great (and fun) documentary, "Sing Faster: The Stagehands' Ring Cycle"

(dates from a San Francisco Opera production of The Ring circa 1990)

The crappy, low-res YouTube copy:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4tPOQKRwdIM

"Winner of the prestigious Filmmaker’s Trophy at Sundance, SING FASTER is a spirited and comical behind-the-scenes look at Richard Wagner’s beloved “Ring Cycle,” one of the most ambitious and spectacular operas in history. In the tradition of “Noises Off,” this acclaimed film from Academy Award®-nominated filmmaker Jon Else tells the story of Wagner’s epic masterpiece entirely from the point of view of the opera’s unsung heroes – the union stagehands.

Night after night at the San Francisco Opera, a majestic universe of trolls, giants, and magic mountains comes alive before audiences. But when the stage dims, another spectacle unfolds as the highly-skilled stagehands maneuver 1000-pound set pieces in near darkness, with a meticulous choreography no less intricate than that of the opera’s. While the mythical Valkyries on stage seem an improbable counterpart to the stagehands, at the heart of the film is a surprising connection between Wagner’s Norse mythology and the sensibilities of these working people. And as the stage crew offers their own animated interpretation of the “Ring Cycle,” this hilarious and ultimately moving film becomes a meditation on the most basic of human themes: love, greed, power, and redemption."

Use the Amazon search below to look for the DVD...

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Why it seems so hard for people to understand that art is subjective is beyond me lol. I would also like to second that it takes an entire village to put a production on. Last year I was fortunate enough to receive a backstage tour in San Francisco. The amount of work required by so many to put these shows on is crazy inspiring. It is a true team effort from the costumes to the steps, decor, sound etc.

It's not the responsibility of a critic to appreciate all of the hard work that goes into a production, but to evaluate what he or she sees. While not all critics are equally perceptive, neither are all opinions equal. Some are more well-reasoned, provide more context, are based in more expertise or scholarship, etc.

It is not a requirement, moral or otherwise, that an audience member appreciates anything in particular about what he or she sees. People pay their money and decide what is important to them.

It's up to the reader to decide if the writing is worth its weight in pixels. For discussions of critics, we have the "Writings on Ballet" forum. For discussion of other posters, we have a rule against discussing the discussion.

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Regarding the forthcoming Frankenstein, I think the question in London is why such a young albeit talented choreographer was upsupervised for a full length ballet that took so many resources. (My guess is that Christoper Wheeldon's Winter’s Tale was so successful because of the experienced theater director Nicholas Hytner’s input and shaping skills.)

Here’s a portion of Luke Jennings’s review cited by fellow critics as heart of the problem:

[The music] does, however, have the advantage that it can be freely cut, as it will need to be if Frankenstein is to be reanimated into a ballet of consequence. That the Royal Ballet has allowed Scarlett to get in so far over his head is reprehensible. He is unquestionably a great talent, but he is equally clearly not ready for a commission on this scale. Why, in the wake of Sweet Violets, The Age of Anxiety, Raven Girl, Carmen and Strapless– all expensive failures – does the company not insist that its narrative choreographers are guided by experienced directors? Britain is home to some of the most brilliant theatrical minds in the world. Is the Royal too proud to ask for help?

http://www.theguardian.com/stage/2016/may/08/frankenstein-royal-ballet-review-liam-scarlett

Luke Jennings and Matthew Bourne about co-directorship:

https://twitter.com/gramilano/status/729213997686398976

Since this is a co-production with San Francisco, the question here is what sort of ballet will finally arrive at the Opera House late summer when rehearsals will begin. And how much of San Francisco’s budget and attentions will it take up and divert from other productions.


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I'm reminded once again of the great (and fun) documentary, "Sing Faster: The Stagehands' Ring Cycle"

(dates from a San Francisco Opera production of The Ring circa 1990)

The crappy, low-res YouTube copy:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4tPOQKRwdIM

I love this film. I worked backstage for many years, and have great respect for the people who combine their skills to make theater happen. But the best crew in the world will only make a work look as good as it can -- it cannot really change the artwork.

I'm interested in seeing how these discussions about Frankenstein continue. It's true that creating a program length narrative work, in whatever dance form, is a very specific kind of challenge. And it's also true that most choreographers and performers make their mistakes in public -- dance is not like literature or visual art where you can write a book or make a painting, and put it out of sight if the results don't please you. You learn from experience, which can be a very hard teacher sometimes.

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