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Heritage Issues


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[Note by Alexandra: This thread was split off from a Kirov ballet thread, after Calliope posed the interesting question, Do San Francisco Ballet and Miami Ciity ballet have heritage issues?]

SFB's heritage issue is twofold. They have been acquiring and performing a large number of "National Ballet of Anywhere" ballets, and importing a lot of "outside" dancers, ie not trained at the SFB school, so that in some cases they don't really appear to have much of a heritage. The sad thing being that they do, and I wish I could see more of it, because I really enjoyed all two of the Christensen ballets that they have performed since I started following them. ;) I haven't seen anything by Smuin at all, even though looking through the 1998 list of the company rep he seems to have contributed a large amount of works to the company. Truth be told, I would much rather see some of these ballets revived than have to sit through the latest Eurotrash all over again.

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Wait a moment, San Francisco has the heritage of being the oldest professional ballet company in the United States. Its heritage starts with Adolph Bolm and continues through the Christiansen Brothers and down to the present. Even if the works presented are not from those eras, a company spirit prevails, and is just as valid as that of St. Petersburg, or anywhere, for that matter, as an expression of the local sensibility. Of course Petersburg owns the original ballpark where Petipa and others worked, but that's just the local history of the place!

Miami, too, started as "just another Balanchine clone" in the Conventional Wisdom, but the personal vision and standard of Edward Villella, plus the unique environment provided by the vigorous Cuban-American ballet milieu of South Florida has quickly stamped an "original" on the company, and made it a valuable, true and unique expression of its community.

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I believe "heritage" in its formal meaning does imply a tradition being passed on through the generations. In that sense, a company like the Kirov, or the Royal Danish Ballet, has a heritage, whereas other companies may only have a history, albeit long and sometimes distinguished ones. I'm all in favor of seeing more Christensen ballets at SFB, but with all due respect, the brothers were not quite Petipa and Bournonville.

I'm afraid I have little desire to see much Smuin at SFB, although I quite agree that the company really doesn't need to be importing items by Nacho Duato, et al.

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