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SFB 2020 Opening Night Gala

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Ah! Love de Sola (of course) but was looking forward to seeing Mukhamedov in Diamonds! Hope it's not an injury? There's no social media explanation -- yet, at least. 

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Casting is also up for Cinderella through the weekend, showing no new casts, i.e., no Froustey or Mukhamedov.  

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1 hour ago, Syzygy said:

Ah! Love de Sola (of course) but was looking forward to seeing Mukhamedov in Diamonds! Hope it's not an injury? There's no social media explanation -- yet, at least. 

Mukhamedov had mentioned in the past that she has an ankle(?) issue, but I forget the specifics. It is alluded to in this post:

https://www.instagram.com/p/B55d0LeAH_t/

Duh! I should have looked more closely - there's a conversation in the post with Ana Sophia Scheller regarding, "stress on ankle/fibula 😞 but it’s getting there slowly!"

Edited by pherank

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14 minutes ago, Josette said:

Casting is also up for Cinderella through the weekend, showing no new casts, i.e., no Froustey or Mukhamedov.  

I don't think Froustey has any physical issues, she's just doing other things this season.

https://www.instagram.com/p/B7ZTN2inKlA/

"The Opening Night Gala is coming in few hours...
This photo describes the best how it feels to start a new season with SFBallet.
From tonight until mid May we dance 7 shows/week, sometimes up to 6 ballets/night,
changing ballet every 2weeks.
We are going on stage in front of 3000people every evening dancing challenging modern ballets and/or historical demanding classical ballets no matter if we are sick, sad or in pain.
We sometimes have the best show of our life and sometimes the worst.
But I couldn’t live without this and being on stage tonight to open a new season makes me the happiest person in the world."

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I'm not suggesting that Froustey is injured or has "physical issues,"  but find it interesting that she is not dancing the Wheeldon Cinderella as she would be lovely in it.  I thought she was outstanding as the Little Mermaid and Aurora last season.   Many people do their jobs despite feeling sick, sad or in pain and don't advertise or romanticize that fact. 

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1 hour ago, Josette said:

I'm not suggesting that Froustey is injured or has "physical issues,"  but find it interesting that she is not dancing the Wheeldon Cinderella as she would be lovely in it.  I thought she was outstanding as the Little Mermaid and Aurora last season.   Many people do their jobs despite feeling sick, sad or in pain and don't advertise or romanticize that fact. 

And that's what Froustey mentioned in the above quote. But now you get to predict what roles she will be dancing in this upcoming season - if not Cinderella, which ones? What will she be dancing in Midsummer Night and Jewels?

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2 hours ago, Josette said:

...  but find it interesting that she is not dancing the Wheeldon Cinderella as she would be lovely in it. 

It might be  a little premature to say she’s not dancing Cinderella, since there are three more performances on Feb 1 and 2 where she might show up.  I certainly hope so; it’s a perfect role for her.

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36 minutes ago, PeggyR said:

It might be  a little premature to say she’s not dancing Cinderella, since there are three more performances on Feb 1 and 2 where she might show up.  I certainly hope so; it’s a perfect role for her.

Yes, it's still a possibility. MF has real comedic abilities too (like the stepsister roles in Cinderella), but sadly she doesn't get many opportunities to show that.

This season, besides seeing the new-to-the-company dancers, I'm hoping to get to see the new soloists perform in some meaty roles, and deliver some welcome surprises.

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On 1/16/2020 at 1:25 PM, PeggyTulle said:

According to casting, Sasha De Sola has replaced Sasha Mukhamedov in Diamonds. 

Although I did not stay to see Diamonds (had to get back to City Hall as I was volunteering for the After Party), Sasha DeSola did dance in place of Sasha Mukhamedov.  Apparently there was an update to the program but I did not receive one.

Another change to last night's program:  Joseph Walsh replaced Carlo DiLanno in the R&J Balcony PDD.  When Romeo came out I first saw the hair and thought 'that's not Carlo'.  I then looked through my binoculars and confirmed with one of my friends who told me there was a change but there was not even an announcement prior to the performance as has been the custom in the past.

My quick thoughts:  A very enjoyable evening of performances.  To my eye, everyone looks fabulous.  Great to start with Stars & Stripes.  Lucas Erni was wonderful in leading the regiment.  I saw him at the after party and complimented him on his performance.  Val's new piece Foreshadowing was a beautiful piece for the occasion and danced very well by Jennifer Stahl, Tiit Helimets, and Elizabeth Powell.  I really enjoyed Bournonville's Jockey Dance - a very playful and competitive number as danced by Esteban Hernandez & Max Cauthorn.  The piece was staged by Ulrik Birkkjaer - who must be on leave per his IG post (https://www.instagram.com/p/B7DnoCzAJkG/).  I do expect him to be back later this season - he was just nominated (along with the cast of Millepied's Appassionata) for Outstanding Achievement for Ensemble Performance (http://www.izzies-sf.org).  Dawson's Swan Lake PDD was beautiful - but I wasn't moved by it.  Perhaps hearing the music and not seeing a tutu or seeing the PDD out of context was part of it.  The last two numbers in the first half (Rowe's For Pixie danced to Nina Simone's Wild is the Wind & PDD from Le Corsaire) drew the biggest applause.  For the second half, I really enjoyed Grand Pas Classique (danced by Wona Park & Wei Wang) and PDD from Bells (Yuan Yuan Tan and Vitor Luiz in his farewell performance).  Overall a wonderful night of dancing and I am ready for the season to begin!!!

 

Edited by sf_herminator

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sf_herminator, thanks so much for your thoughts, and for the information about Ulrik Birkkjaer, one of my favorites.  

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On 1/15/2020 at 1:22 PM, Helene said:

Off-topic, but, we miss you in Seattle, @sf_herminator!  We were under the delusion that you live here and only visit San Francisco :).

 

Aw, thanks Helene!!  I do plan to come up for One Thousand Pieces, Giselle, and PIte-Tharp-Liang.  Especially looking forward to Giselle - my favorite story ballet.

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7 minutes ago, pherank said:

Thanks for the report, sf_herminator! So far, I can only find images of Natasha Sheehan’s gown:
https://www.instagram.com/p/B7bgobWAx_K/

And Ben Freemantle's ???
https://www.instagram.com/p/B7Z-aGxgers/

Hopefully this link will work.  This is a link to SFB post on Instagram Stories:  https://www.instagram.com/stories/sfballet/.  I believe it is a public account so you should be able to see it.  There are pics from the dinner, gala performance, and other miscellaneous.  Just tap on the pic to play.

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13 minutes ago, sf_herminator said:

Hopefully this link will work.  This is a link to SFB post on Instagram Stories:  https://www.instagram.com/stories/sfballet/.  I believe it is a public account so you should be able to see it.  There are pics from the dinner, gala performance, and other miscellaneous.  Just tap on the pic to play.

That was great! (Note that I was prompted to login to Instagram to view). Nice to see Gennadi Nedvigin was there.

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This made me laugh:  an SF Chronicle article with photos of the SFB 2020 Gala has the following image caption -

“A ballerina’s leotard sits as a decoration before the start of the gala reception.”

How "appetizing"! I believe that is a tutu on display.  ;)
I should know the ballet that it's from, but the name is not coming to me at the moment...

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On 1/16/2020 at 3:21 PM, pherank said:

Mukhamedov had mentioned in the past that she has an ankle(?) issue, but I forget the specifics. It is alluded to in this post:

https://www.instagram.com/p/B55d0LeAH_t/

Duh! I should have looked more closely - there's a conversation in the post with Ana Sophia Scheller regarding, "stress on ankle/fibula 😞 but it’s getting there slowly!"

That's too bad! I can see from he other posts how excited she was for Diamonds... 

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On 1/17/2020 at 10:22 AM, sf_herminator said:

My quick thoughts:  A very enjoyable evening of performances.  To my eye, everyone looks fabulous.  Great to start with Stars & Stripes.  Lucas Erni was wonderful in leading the regiment.  I saw him at the after party and complimented him on his performance.  Val's new piece Foreshadowing was a beautiful piece for the occasion and danced very well by Jennifer Stahl, Tiit Helimets, and Elizabeth Powell.  I really enjoyed Bournonville's Jockey Dance - a very playful and competitive number as danced by Esteban Hernandez & Max Cauthorn.  The piece was staged by Ulrik Birkkjaer - who must be on leave per his IG post (https://www.instagram.com/p/B7DnoCzAJkG/).  I do expect him to be back later this season - he was just nominated (along with the cast of Millepied's Appassionata) for Outstanding Achievement for Ensemble Performance (http://www.izzies-sf.org).  Dawson's Swan Lake PDD was beautiful - but I wasn't moved by it.  Perhaps hearing the music and not seeing a tutu or seeing the PDD out of context was part of it.  The last two numbers in the first half (Rowe's For Pixie danced to Nina Simone's Wild is the Wind & PDD from Le Corsaire) drew the biggest applause.  For the second half, I really enjoyed Grand Pas Classique (danced by Wona Park & Wei Wang) and PDD from Bells (Yuan Yuan Tan and Vitor Luiz in his farewell performance).  Overall a wonderful night of dancing and I am ready for the season to begin!!!

Additional thoughts:  Wow, really glad I made the trek for my first SFB gala.  A terrific program and a wonderful opportunity to see many of the top dancers in the company.

I loved everything about Foreshadow from start to finish and didn't realize it was the Caniparoli piece until later.  This work looked unique to my eye, or maybe I just have not seen any of his recent works.  The tempo for Swan Lake was too fast and judging by people around me (sighing, sounding bored), it didn't translate well.  Jockey Dance was fun and spirited.  Normally recorded music is a big turnoff for me, but I also loved everything about For Pixie, the Simone recording, smart choreography, and seeing two of my favorite dancers together made this one a winner.  I heard gasps during Angelo Greco's leaps in the Le Corsaire pdd and I was really impressed by Misa Kuranaga's dancing.  I had only seen her in Ashton Cinderella and Balanchin'es Apollo and did not know she was capable of these amazing feats and speed!  The R&J pdd I had low expectations due to the choreographer but it was actually the best thing I've seen from him by far and I really liked it, Mathilde Froustey and Joe Walsh were very sincere.

The second half of the show did not hold up to the first half.  Although I like the Thatcher's choreography, I did not enjoy the digital clock, music or the costumes in his piece..  After that we see this huge Grand Pas Classique and I finally see what the hubbub is with Wona Park.  Wowwee that girl is strong!  Toward the end she did I don't know how many releve passe, releve attitude, releve something elses.  I had not really seen Wei Wang partner much, he had a very light touch on Wona during the supported pirouettes and during the promenades she was very stable, no arms wobbling whatsover.  He has developed so much since I first spotted him at the premiere of Swimmer.  The next piece Hurry Up - IMO that did not belong in the program and was oddly placed. pdd from Bells was another piece I loved everything about, the music, the dancers, their execution and facial expressions, exquisite costumes.  Something seemed off with Diamonds, for me I think it was the tempo, it was much faster than I am used to, and those rented costumes from Miami are horrid.  Actually the whole evening seemed rushed - Le Corsaire dancers didn't get their proper time to bow since the curtain slammed down on them, YYT and VL running off the stage at blackout, etc., it would have been nice to savor the evening a bit more.

There was lots of fantastic people watching opportunities.  People make a lot more effort to get dressed up than in Seattle, and it was raining that day (by SF standards)! 

Now that I know where to stay close for a one night stay I'll have to see another SFB gala.

Note:  I fixed the "Making of Swan Lake" video in my previous post.

 

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We appreciate your report, Seattle_Dancer. These Opening Night galas are always a hodgepodge. I think there’s supposed to be something for everyone (but never quite enough of any one thing). Hopefully the audience notices a wide range of works and a company of dancers able to perform most anything given to them.

Re: Diamonds tempo - when I saw PNB perform Diamonds (two performances) I felt that the tempo the conductor was using was rather slow, so this may be a case of what people are used to. I just compare with the orchestral recordings I know. But to your complaint - others have mentioned that the Diamonds finale wasn’t quite ready for prime time. Hopefully once there are a couple of full performances done, the dancers will hit their stride. Elyse Bourne was a main repetiteur for the upcoming Jewels program, but now that she’s passed away, I’m not sure who has taken over responsibility. Tomasson always has a say on the Balanchine works, but he’s too busy in general to be acting as repetiteur.

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I recommend reading Rachel Howard's review of the SFB 2020 Gala, Dancing in Unison (on the Fjord Review website), as it is a notch above the usual gala mentions.

'To me, the power of ballet is not that it embodies ideals or perfectionism. It’s that it redelivers you, via a real, vulnerable, risk-taking body right before your eyes, to an intensity of experience. And to me that happened most potently Thursday with the return, after pregnancy leave, of Sarah Van Patten, dancing the pas de deux she originated in Justin Peck’s “Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming.” Set to M83’s explosive electronica/rock music, this is nonetheless a subtle duet, and as danced by others in Van Patten’s absence last season, it looked like nothing much beyond self-absorbed circling and big leg-fanning kicks punctuated by white sneakers. Van Patten’s ability to transform these steps is magical. She reminds me of the highest Butoh dancers, able to imbue any slow arm stretch with existential intentionality. The young soloist Henry Sidford was her cool and watchful partner, rising in his dignity of presence in proximity to hers.'

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Thanks for quote above, pherank. I loved reading this testimonial to Van Patten's remarkable artistry. 

 

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