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PeggyR

SFB 2019 Program 2

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Programs 2 and 3 run concurrently. 

Program 2: Kaleidoscope
Tuesday, February 12, 2019 – 7:30 pm

Divertimento No. 15
Choreography: George Balanchine
Music: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Conductor: Martin West

 Angelo Greco
Ben Freemantle
Lonnie Weeks
Sasha De Sola
Mathilde Froustey
Isabella Devivo
Julia Rowe
Koto Ishihara

Appassionata (SF Ballet premiere)
Choreography: Benjamin Millepied
Music: Ludwig van Beethoven

Dores Andre
Ulrik Birkkjaer
Sasha De Sola
Benjamin Freemantle
Elizabeth Powell
Jaime Garcia Castilla

Hurry Up, We're Dreaming
Choreography: Justin Peck
Music: M83

Dores Andre
Joseph Walsh
Elizabeth Powell
Luke Ingham
Gabriela Gonzales
Ulrik Birkkjaer

Wednesday, February 13, 2019 – 7:30 pm

Divertimento No. 15
Choreography: George Balanchine
Music: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Conductor: Martin West

Angelo Greco
Ben Freemantle
Lonnie Weeks
Wona Park
Mathilde Froustey
Isabella Devivo
Julia Rowe
Koto Ishihara

Appassionata (SF Ballet premiere)
Choreography: Benjamin Millepied
Music: Ludwig van Beethoven

Jennifer Stahl
Ian Robison 
Not sure who Ian Robison might be (presumably not the proof reader).
Mathilde Froustey
Henry Sidford
Madison Keesler
Steven Morse

Hurry Up, We're Dreaming
Choreography: Justin Peck
Music: M83

Dores Andre
Joseph Walsh
Elizabeth Powell
Luke Ingham
Gabriela Gonzales
Ulrik Birkkjaer

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Making Froustey, Powell and Freemantle do back-to-back ballets seems a recipe for trouble. No Strongin and no Frantziskonis (with SVP and Chung out for who knows how long). I'd expect to be seeing WanTing Zhao scheduled for Programs 2 and or 3, but not so far...

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Don't you assume Ian is Aaron Robison?!   I hope they make the correction quickly.

 

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14 minutes ago, Josette said:

Don't you assume Ian is Aaron Robison?!   I hope they make the correction quickly.

 

Well, yes.  I was just making a joke.  Sorry! 😀

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PeggyR - it's just hard to tell without hearing the tone of your voice!

 

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6 hours ago, pherank said:

Making Froustey, Powell and Freemantle do back-to-back ballets seems a recipe for trouble. No Strongin and no Frantziskonis (with SVP and Chung out for who knows how long). I'd expect to be seeing WanTing Zhao scheduled for Programs 2 and or 3, but not so far...

We are missing three principal dancers. In Divertimento No. 15,  Froustey probably had to replace Ana Sophia Scheller who danced this ballet at the Balanchine festival in NYC.

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Wow, what interesting (in a good way) casting. It seems like such a different company, casting-wise, from two and three years ago. No surprise, given the seismic shift in roster over that time frame. Nice to see Jaime Garcia Castilla on the cast list. But I'm already feeling concern that the whole season might pass w/o my seeing several of the dancers perform. (Easy solution: go see Program 3. But... no go.) I'll be attending opening night of this one - looking forward to it.

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Casting for Friday 2/15 performance, which is also Nite Out (https://www.sfballet.org/niteout)

https://www.sfballet.org/season/casting

Kaleidoscope  - Friday, February 15, 2019 – 8:00 pm

 

Divertimento No. 15
Choreography: George Balanchine
Music: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Conductor: Martin West

Joseph Walsh
Max Cauthorn
Hansuke Yamamoto
Sasha De Sola
Wona Park
Jahna Frantziskonis
Dores Andre
WanTing Zhao

Appassionata (SF Ballet premiere)
Choreography: Benjamin Millepied
Music: Ludwig van Beethoven

Dores Andre
Ulrik Birkkjaer
Sasha De Sola
Benjamin Freemantle
Elizabeth Powell
Jaime Garcia Castilla

Hurry Up, We're Dreaming
Choreography: Justin Peck
Music: M83

Ellen Rose Hummel
Wei Wang
Isabella DeVivo
Henry Sidford
Norika Matsuyama
Hansuke Yamamoto

 

As a reminder:  Casting subject to change

 

 

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Is there another thread that mentions when/why David Dawson's amazing Animus Anima got replaced by Justin Peck's Hurry Up, We're Dreaming? It was only last week that I realized Dawson's ballet doesn't show up anywhere at all this season, and as it was my favorite from the Unbound Festival, I'm gritting my teeth in disappointment. There are more than one references online to it still being part of Program 2 -- one of the perils of making programming public in spring/summer, having it go out to all media outlets, and then instituting changes. Feels like salt in a wound to see it mentioned as part of tonight's program. Nope. I'm not too curious about seeing Peck's work, either. It's going to be a propulsive sneaker ballet with tons of clever movement flung at the audience. Or am I selling it short? Am I being an old fogey stick-in-the-mud for not embracing a younger generation's definition of new, exciting ballet? 

Regardless, I'm looking forward to the rest of the program.  

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1 hour ago, Terez said:

Is there another thread that mentions when/why David Dawson's amazing Animus Anima got replaced by Justin Peck's Hurry Up, We're Dreaming? It was only last week that I realized Dawson's ballet doesn't show up anywhere at all this season, and as it was my favorite from the Unbound Festival, I'm gritting my teeth in disappointment. There are more than one references online to it still being part of Program 2 -- one of the perils of making programming public in spring/summer, having it go out to all media outlets, and then instituting changes. Feels like salt in a wound to see it mentioned as part of tonight's program. Nope. I'm not too curious about seeing Peck's work, either. It's going to be a propulsive sneaker ballet with tons of clever movement flung at the audience. Or am I selling it short? Am I being an old fogey stick-in-the-mud for not embracing a younger generation's definition of new, exciting ballet? 

Regardless, I'm looking forward to the rest of the program.  

Terez, I’m totally in sympathy with you re the Dawson being displaced; it was my favorite too.  In fact, I bought a ticket to see a second performance of Program 2 just to see the Dawson and Divertimento 15 again.  I’ve liked the other Peck ballets SFB has performed, and absolutely loved Rodeo:  Four Dance Episodes, so I don’t automatically assume I won’t like his ballets.  Having said that, my 2 cents re Hurry Up…  

-      Music:  Really don’t like the music.  I’ve never liked ‘pop’ anyway, and this score is a pop sub-genre I think of as ‘soppy pop’.  Give me the Rolling Stones any time.

-      Lighting: Very dark.  Very, very dark.  Very, very, very dark.  Bright lights at the rear of the stage directed straight into the audience render the dancers more or less entirely in silhouette.  It’s kind of like driving on a busy four-lane street in December at evening rush hour in the pouring rain.  I should point out that I’m old and my eyesight isn’t happy with this kind of lighting, so maybe someone younger would have an easier time of it.  I’ve seen the ballet from both the Balcony Circle and the Dress Circle, and the angle doesn’t seem to have any effect on visibility.

-      Costumes: Due to the darkness, for all I know the dancers could be starkers.  At the curtain call  (when the lighting was more reasonable), it was a surprise to see the costumes were kind of glittery.

-      Choreography: Note that I have no objection to sneaker ballets in principle.  What I could see looked pretty standard for this type of dance – a lot of running around and vaguely acrobatic moves – but the darkness makes it difficult to see the stage as a whole, so it’s hard to get a feel for how everything fits together, and frankly, it just didn’t seem worth the effort to figure out what was going on.  

Looking forward to hearing what you think.  

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Like PeggyR, I've always had difficulty with the lighting in Hurry Up – very hard time looking through it to the dancing. But there have been a series of works at the Opera House, Scarlett's, Wheeldon's, others, that have had the similarly aggressively audience-facing, seachlight lighting, so Justin Peck's ballet isn't breaking any annoying new ground here.

What's troubling for me with Justin Peck ballets is the boy-meets-girl-in-a-crowd moment out of West Side Story fulcrum where the crowd and the background freezes and a pas begins.

What I do like about Peck is his handling of groups, his sense of dance as architecture, his witty arrangement of its modules. You see the whole and the parts working together. Anyway Hurry Up isn't a great piece but it has it pleasures (when you can see them)

Edited by Quiggin

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Thank you, both of you, for this great insight and information.  Very helpful (and entertaining to read!).

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I was also disappointed in the change to Hurry Up, We're Dreaming? from Dawson's beautiful Animus Anima, as I am going to this Thursday and Friday performances. Animus Anima takes requires a technique with tremendous control and serenity.  In Peck's work, I remember enjoying Blake Kessler especially, who, unfortunately, is no longer with the company.  I agree with the comments above about Hurry Up, and would  rather see just about anything else, even Nana's Lied

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16 minutes ago, Josette said:

I agree with the comments above about Hurry Up, and would  rather see just about anything else, even Nana's Lied

Well, I wouldn't go that far ... 🙄

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Enjoyed Program 2 last night. Thought Isabella DeVivo and Julia Rowe came closest to Balanchine in Divertimento #15, especially the quirky torsion bar twist movements, in an overall good performance. (The first movement variations are always so strange, as if the dancer is doing two superimposed variations at once that only coincide here and there, and in the andante the dancers seem to be sculpting out invisible, off-fulcrum private spaces.) What I did find distracting is that the dancers smiled so broadly in parts which are supposed to be relatively quiet and introspective. Pianists don't smile while they play Mozart inner movements – should dancers?

Lots of clean, spirited dancing in the Milleppied/Beethoven Appassionata and nice to see Jaime Garcia Castilla in good form after a hiatus of some months. But the production seemed like a odd combination of stories and effects from Russian Seasons – primary colored costumes in the first movement, white bridal clothes in the second – and Liebeslieder Walzes  – women's hair let free in the last movement, change from point shoes to flats. But the progression of narratives didn't seem to develop as clearly as they do in the originals.

Hurry Up seemed less compelling on third viewing but sections still stood out. Was still thinking of Mozart from earlier in the evening I guess.

Edited by Quiggin

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On 2/12/2019 at 12:33 PM, Quiggin said:

What I do like about Peck is his handling of groups, his sense of dance as architecture, his witty arrangement of its modules. You see the whole and the parts working together. Anyway Hurry Up isn't a great piece but it has it pleasures (when you can see them)

Thanks for the reports, everyone.
Quiggin, have you read the James Panero analysis of Peck's choreography? I thought it was a rather interesting take.

https://www.newcriterion.com/issues/2019/2/hunt-peck

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20 hours ago, pherank said:


Quiggin, have you read the James Panero analysis of Peck's choreography? I thought it was a rather interesting take.

https://www.newcriterion.com/issues/2019/2/hunt-peck

I enjoyed reading this article, pherank! It helped me clarify in my mind what I like/don't like about his work.

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20 hours ago, Quiggin said:

Enjoyed Program 2 last night. Thought Isabella DeVivo and Julia Rowe came closest to Balanchine in Divertimento #15, especially the quirky torsion bar twist movements, in an overall good performance. (The first movement variations are always so strange, as if the dancer is doing two superimposed variations at once that only coincide here and there, and in the andante the dancers seem to be sculpting out invisible, off-fulcrum private spaces.) What I did find distracting is that the dancers smiled so broadly in parts which are supposed to be relatively quiet and introspective. Pianists don't smile while they play Mozart inner movements – should dancers?

Lots of clean, spirited dancing in the Milleppied/Beethoven Appassionata and nice to see Jaime Garcia Castilla in good form after a hiatus of some months. But the production seemed like a odd combination of stories and effects from Russian Seasons – primary colored costumes in the first movement, white bridal clothes in the second – and Liebeslieder Walzes  – women's hair let free in the last movement, change from point shoes to flats. But the progression of narratives didn't seem to develop as clearly as they do in the originals.

Hurry Up seemed less compelling on third viewing but sections still stood out. Was still thinking of Mozart from earlier in the evening I guess.

I love reading your perspective, Quiggin. They go into such fascinating depth (I'm a little embarrassed to share my own thoughts, as they are so generic in comparison).  I really enjoyed both the Divertimento No. 15 and Millepied's Appassionata. Agreed that it was great to see Jaime Garcia Castilla onstage, and looking well up to the task.  I didn't mind that that the progression of narrative didn't always develop clearly -- maybe because next to the other two ballets, it was ANY narrative, so I enjoyed that. Lizzie Powell was having a great night. All the dancers who did double duty -- Birkkjaer, Freemantle, André, De Sola -- looked great. (How tired must they have been by night's end?!)

Regarding Peck's "Hurry Up," I'm glad I went into the night forearmed with the comments above. It allowed me to appreciate that the lighting was going to be a challenge, without resisting it too much. The music was a thumbs' down for me. The opener, with the little girl narrating -- I had this panicked thought that if the whole ballet was going to feature that voice, I'd have to leave (okay, not that dire). I don't know why I find it SO annoying to listen to words as I'm watching a ballet and already listening to music, but I do. I actually quite enjoyed the open stage, open wing feeling. I was sitting fairly close up, on the stage-left side, and I loved that I could see the dancers moving backstage, getting ready for their next cue. That's a nice boundary to break -- why shouldn't we be allowed more visual access to backstage, if they're going to shake everything else up as well? Agreed that the costumes were washed out by the lighting. They did nothing for me. I really enjoyed, in Appassionata, the costume change, the hair down. It worked for me. All six dancers there worked beautifully together. 

So great to see Joe Walsh back onstage - I feel like the ballet profited from his exuberant energy that never seemed forced, like it did on some of the other dancers. And Dores is a powerhouse all through "Hurry Up." Again, I think of what a workout she and Birkkjaer got, doing both "Hurry Up" and Appassionata.

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Thanks, pherank, for the Panero Justin Peck analysis. Maybe Peck's ballets are more dramatically successful when he uses more traditional music scores, such as Aaron Copeland's for Rodeo, which give him a stronger structure to lock into. And thanks, Terez, for your observations on Hurry Up – and Joseph Walsh's naturalness and being a kind of "natural" in the ballet. With the Millepied Appasionata, by borrowing from Ratmansky's Russian Seasons and Balanchine's sublime Liebeslieder Valzer, it does open up some questions about the whys of the borrowing. When say Picasso or Matisse borrow/"steal" from Cezanne or Van Gogh, they build on the implications of the devices or motifs that they felt weren't completely developed in the original (often turning them on their heads) and the resulting art work ends up saying something fresh and new. I don't think that happened here.

Edited by Quiggin

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Program 2 casting for remaining performances (https://www.sfballet.org/season/casting).  Casting is subject to change

Sunday, February 17, 2019 – 2:00 pm

Divertimento No. 15
Choreography: George Balanchine
Music: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Conductor: Martin West

Joseph Walsh
Max Cauthorn
Hansuke Yamamoto
Sasha De Sola
Wona Park
Jahna Frantziskonis
Dores Andre
WanTing Zhao

Appassionata (SF Ballet premiere)
Choreography: Benjamin Millepied
Music: Ludwig van Beethoven
Piano: Natasha Feygina

Jennifer Stahl
Aaron Robison
Mathilde Froustey
Henry Sidford
Madison Keesler
Steven Morse

Hurry Up, We're Dreaming
Choreography: Justin Peck
Music: M83

Ellen Rose Hummel
Wei Wang
Isabella DeVivo
Henry Sid-ford
Norika Matsuyama
Hansuke Yamamoto

 

Thursday, February 21, 2019 – 7:30 pm

Divertimento No. 15
Choreography: George Balanchine
Music: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Conductor: Martin West

Angelo Greco
Benjamin Freemantle
Lonnie Weeks
Wona Park
Mathilde Froustey
Isabella Devivo
Julia Rowe
Koto Ishihara

Appassionata (SF Ballet premiere)
Choreography: Benjamin Millepied
Music: Ludwig van Beethoven
Piano: Mungunchimeg Buriad

Dores Andre
Ulrik Birkkjaer
Sasha De Sola
Benjamin Freemantle
Elizabeth Powell
Jaime Garcia Castilla

Hurry Up, We're Dreaming
Choreography: Justin Peck
Music: M83

Dores Andre
Joseph Walsh
Elizabeth Powell
Luke Ingham
Gabriela Gonzales
Ulrik Birkkjaer

 

Saturday, February 23, 2019 – 2:00 pm

Divertimento No. 15
Choreography: George Balanchine
Music: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Conductor: Martin West

Joseph Walsh
Max Cauthorn
Hansuke Yamamoto
Sasha De Sola
Wona Park
Jahna Frantziskonis
Dores Andre
WanTing Zhao

Appassionata (SF Ballet premiere)
Choreography: Benjamin Millepied
Music: Ludwig van Beethoven
Piano: Natasha Feygina

Jennifer Stahl
Aaron Robison
Mathilde Froustey
Henry Sidford
Madison Keesler
Steven Morse

Hurry Up, We're Dreaming
Choreography: Justin Peck
Music: M83

Ellen Rose Hummel
Wei Wang
Isabella DeVivo
Henry Sidford
Norika Matsuyama
Hansuke Yamamoto

 

Saturday, February 23, 2019 – 8:00 pm

Divertimento No. 15
Choreography: George Balanchine
Music: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Conductor: Martin West

Angelo Greco
Benjamin Freemantle
Lonnie Weeks
Wona Park
Mathilde Froustey
Isabella DeVivo
Julia Rowe
Koto Ishihara

Appassionata (SF Ballet premiere)
Choreography: Benjamin Millepied
Music: Ludwig van Beethoven
Piano: Mungunchimeg Buriad

Dores Andre
Ulrik Birkkjaer
Sasha de Sola
Benjamin Freemantle
Elizabeth Powell
Jaime Garcia Castilla

Hurry Up, We're Dreaming
Choreography: Justin Peck
Music: M83

Dores Andre
Joseph Walsh
Elizabeth Powell
Luke Ingham
Gabriela Gonzalez
Ulrik Birkkjaer

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Program 2 (2/21)

[I attended the crossover of Programs 2 and 3 last week]

Divertimento No. 15
Well danced by everyone involved, thankfully, and Koto Ishihara looked especially strong and radiant. It was wonderful to see her stand out from the group. I like it when the Balanchine pieces are well rehearsed.

Appassionata
My main impressions: Lizzie Powell very much held her own with the more experienced soloists. She must be on top of the world right now.  ;)
Pianist Mungunchimeg Buriad was excellent.

Appassionata, like Program 3's Snowblind, is a frustration for me because there are worthwhile choreographic elements that get lost in the odd structural choices. I can do without the Robbins-style dramatics as they don't provide any real depth or cleverness. There's 3 couples (and we are instantly reminded of Robbins' In The Night or Dances at a Gathering, both piano ballets as I recall), sort of a central couple (Andre and Birkkjaer), but then there's some re-arrangement of the leads, then back to the same couplings. Why is there a 'central couple' (my term) at all? A chance to focus on the particulars of a relationship? But we don't get any details beside a long staring contest, and an obnoxiously long kiss. Anyway, Millepied's choreography becomes more and more challenging as the piece goes on, so it's a real workout for the dancers. In fact, between Programs 2 and 3 (which overlap) only Snowblind provides any relief from the physical challenges for the dancers (but not much). And many of the soloists are doing double duty in these programs so that worries me a bit. All the dancers were putting out 100% and that's what we hope for, but I don't want to see them worn out and/or injured.

Hurry Up, We're Dreaming
Another sneaker ballet that feels like a sneaker ballet (that's now a thing). I'm waiting for Peck to transcend his materials (such as sneakers), but that hasn't happened much. For me, he's a very competent Broadway choreographer who provides fun vehicles for the dancers (and they do have a blast), but it's all just cotton candy to me. The M83 electronic music 'score' relegates the ballet to a second-tier for all time. Peck probably isn't worried about that though. Fun, but instantly forgettable. But then, I worry too much about the art side of things. ;)
On the plus side, the dancers are fully engaged in this type of dance piece, so there's no worry about anyone "phoning it in". Though I wonder if I could tell if a dancer fudged a step, or three...

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Belated thanks for your comments above, pherank. I enjoyed hearing/reading your impressions, particularly in Appassionata

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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, Terez said:

Belated thanks for your comments above, pherank. I enjoyed hearing/reading your impressions, particularly in Appassionata

Hi Terez,

Trying to remember something more about Appassionata

Choreographically-speaking, Appassionata starts slow and gradually builds in intensity and difficulty along with the music. A neo-classical work, which I'm sure Millepied thought would fit the company well. I think Tomasson's The Fifth Season is better put together, personally.

The dancers sometimes appeared silhouetted against the cyclorama and dividing screens, but since I was seated on the side (orchestra ring) I probably wasn't getting the benefit of the arrangement. That silhouetting always reminds me of Glass Pieces, but then the same type of silhouetting is used in part of Lander's Etudes. It's not specific to Robbins.

Jewel tone costumes that I neither loved nor hated - the finale section of the ballet features some sort of pajama outfit that has been described in one of the professional reviews. Kind of sexy, kind of silly. You can see from these pictures (Madison Keesler is shown as one of the leads that night - good for her):

https://www.instagram.com/p/BuPqJPrAAHy/

Millepied should be given some credit for creating to Beethoven's music, which has often been considered unsuitable for ballet (it isn't dance music). The ballet choreography works more than it doesn't. It would be interesting to contrast Millepied's choreographic approach with Justin Peck's, as they both come out of the Balanchine/Robbins tradition but lean heavily towards contemporary stylings and techniques in most of their work. I haven't seen enough live of either choreographer to make that study yet.

Edited by pherank

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