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Thoughts on Program 5, especially regarding Anima Animus?

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Dear SFB fans,

I am interested in hearing people’s thoughts on Anima Animus and Program 5 in general. I’m tempted to travel to SF to see it, as Sofiane Sylve is one of my all-time favorite dancers and it’s a rare chance to see her in a new work choreographed for her (I missed the Unbound festival). Would you consider Anima Animus an okay/good/great/phenomenal work, and how is Sylve in it?


I’ve seen 7 for 8 and remember it as a nice enough but not particularly memorable Tomasson piece. Don’t know much about the Mrs Robinson piece or Marsten’s work.


Your thoughts are greatly appreciated!

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7 for Eight isn't bad. Boada was always good in one of the parts where he seemed to be dancing in two Bachian tempos at once.

You might also look at the concurrent Program 6 which features Ratmansky's Seasons. It's on a lot of best of 2019 lists and was much discussed here when it was premiered at ABT last spring.

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Sofiane is, I believe, 43 years old now, so we're running out of chances to see her. I think an opening cast of Sofiane Sylve, Frances Chung (dancing what was originally a Maria Kochektkova role), Joseph Walsh, Luke Ingham and Wei Wang is likely. But other dancers are  learning these roles for the 2020 performances. There's no way to guarantee which nights she will appear in Anima Animus, but the opening cast is still a good bet. (Knock on wood).

If you're traveling from a distance to see SFB, I recommend visiting at the crossover of Programs 5 & 6. As Quiggin mentioned, Program 6 has Ratmansky's The Seasons, a co-production with ABT - the reviews were quite good for this ballet (I think it was the costumes that people didn't like much).

Program 5 [Opening Night]
Tuesday, March 24, 2020 7:30 PM

Program 5
Wednesday, March 25, 2020 7:30 PM

Program 6 [Opening Night]
Thursday, March 26, 2020 7:30 PM


I went looking for past forum comments about Anima Animus, and here's what I've found so far:

"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..."

"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 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."



"Dawson Anima Animus: A-   A high energy, dynamic piece that had the misfortune of coming after the emotional Wheeldon piece. Maybe it would have gotten a full 'A' if scheduled differently, though I still felt that there were some instances where men had to wander about the stage to get into position for something while dancing was going on around them. Others might disagree. The costumes bothered me for some reason. The men's shirts and the women's leotards were backless except for a vertical strip that ran up their spines, which just made me feel uncomfortable - I can't explain why."



Edited by pherank
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Anima, as pherank mentions, was one of the more successful ballets of the Unbound Festival, and also enthusiastically received when SFB presented it in Washington, DC and London.    Personally, I'd travel to see it as it's thrilling to watch not just Sofiane but the entire cast.  


Edited by mira
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To be "fair and balanced": detractors have described Anima Animus as 'cold and calculating', so not everyone loves the ballet (naturally). The writer Rachel Howard put it this way, "Anima/Animus dazzlingly danced but, alas, emotionally monotonous". On the definite plus side: Sofiane Sylve isn't known to dance poorly in a role that has been created on her (or any other role that I can think of). She's fully committed if she's able to dance.

Btw, I first remember seeing the title printed as Anima/Animus, and then Anima-Animus, and now it seems to have changed to simply, Anima Animus.

EDIT: I think we forgot to say anything about Marsten.  😉
Her Snowblind ballet from the Unbound Festival was also one of the more successful pieces. Marsten is a dramatist - I think her works tend to be heavy on mood, visual atmosphere and visceral feelings (as expressed through dance). Snowblind wasn't perfect for me, it could be confusing and overwrought at times, but it manged to be interesting. Marsten's new piece should contrast pretty well with Anima Animus and 7 for 8.

Edited by pherank
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First of all let me say I am enamoured with pretty much anything David Dawson creates.

But if you have not seen much of Dawson's work then I could see how people (if open to his style) liked Anima Animus a lot.  We are spoiled up in Seattle with PNB dancing his Million Kisses to My Skin and Empire Noir, which are light years ahead of Anima Animus, probably because he was time and logistically constrained when working for the Unbound festival.  Last summer we also saw Seattle Dance Collective present an excerpt from The Grey Area, which Sofiane originially danced.  Having also seen his Swan Lake and Citizen Nowhere I would categorize Anima Animus as "okay".  I wasn't feeling well at the Unbound festival, so I don't have a great recollection of particular dancers standing out.

I thought about seeing Program 5 but decided Anima Animus and rest of program not worth the draw, so I am doing a day trip from Seattle to see a Program 6 matinee.  But then I have seen AA and you have not and you are a big SS fan.  As ECat above said, "SF Ballet is always worth the trip".  If you have time and money, you should do it!  I am going to make an update on the "Places to stay when seeing SFB" thread" soon.

If you want to see more of Dawson's work, PNB is presenting Empire Noir in mid March (the program is named after a Cerrudo piece).  https://www.pnb.org/season/one-thousand-pieces/  There are some sublime videos of Leta Biasucci in the role made on Michaela DePrince at Dutch National.  I went to every show last time, I love it that much!  PM me if you want more info.  Also Scottish Ballet is bringing back Swan Lake in April.  There is rehearsal footage from World Ballet Day 2015 you can see on the SB website.  If you go it can be combined with a trip to see Royal Ballet with an easy train ride.  For a small donation I was able to watch a SB rehearsal on stage, it was well worth it.

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3 hours ago, seattle_dancer said:

I am going to make an update on the "Places to stay when seeing SFB" thread" soon.

Yes, please update the Places to Stay thread with any new information that you have. I will be staying at a different hotel (for me) this spring so will have something to say about that. The prices are generally outrageous these days, no matter where you stay.

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Rachel Howard just revealed this bit of information about Marsten's work:
"Sarah Van Patten and Joseph Walsh are likely to steal the night as a surprisingly sympathetic Mrs. Robinson and her young prey."

So for all the SVP fans waiting to see her return to a lead role - see the opening cast (fingers crossed).

Edited by pherank
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Thank you everyone for your thoughts! I booked my flights. I just can’t pass up the opportunity to see Sofiane in a role created for her. I wish I could stay for Program 6 but alas, not this visit. I love reading this forum and appreciate hearing everyone’s thoughts on performances and dancers. I dearly miss the days when the WMOH was a bike ride away. 

@seattle_dancer Thank you for the links to more of Dawson’s work! 

Unrelated: in November 2017, I walked out of my house in Portland, OR and saw a young blonde woman and brown-haired man walking towards me. As we passed each other, I said “Excuse me, but are you Sasha De Sola and Max Cauthorn?” It was :) 

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Ha ha ha, you are a true ballet fan!  You are making me rethink my decision to skip Program 5.  It just annoys me to have the AD's filler choreography forced on me and I did not hear good things about 7 for 8.

I meant to drop a note on your hello/welcome thread.  You should come up to Seattle sometime to see PNB.  It's an easy train ride and you don't need a car once up here.  Feel free to PM me if you decide to and I'll try to get a BA group together before/after a show.


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On 1/9/2020 at 1:22 PM, pherank said:

Yes, please update the Places to Stay thread with any new information that you have. I will be staying at a different hotel (for me) this spring so will have something to say about that. The prices are generally outrageous these days, no matter where you stay.

Will do upon my return after the gala performance.  I'll have more info after staying at a new (to me) place.  Curious if the post-show shuttle is still running (info is missing from new SFB website) - will confirm.

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