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San Francisco Ballet - 'Square Dance,' 'Continuum,' 'Le Carnaval dex
by Julia Skene-Wenzel
20 September, 2004
-- Sadler's Wells, London
After a three year wait, the San Francisco Ballet is back with a striking
line up of three programmes, including several UK and London premieres.
Under the artistic direction of Helgi Tomasson, the company sparkled at
the opening night, displaying its varied talents in a well-rounded triple
Balanchine's ‘Square Dance,' a charming mixture of American folk dance
and classical virtuosi, proved the perfect vehicle for the company's return.
Clean footwork and defined formations gave way to a radiant and uplifting
performance of all dancers. Confidently led by Tina LeBlanc and Joan Boada,
the company flawlessly captured the choreographic challenges of this piece.
Accompanied by the English Chamber Orchestra, Vivaldi and Corelli merged
with Balanchine's sensitive choreography, allowing the male cast to soften
into gentle passages of adagio, while the women's clarity and sharpness
kept the mood light and airy.
Choreographed on the San Francisco Ballet in 2002, Wheeldon's ‘Continuum'
thrives on the cast's ownership. In a stunning series of duets, Wheeldon
highlights each dancer's individual movement quality and allows the piece
to move from sensual to dynamic, from defined pas de deux to fluid group
sections. Natasha Katz's scenography features a large backdrop that changes
colour and shape to reflect and underline the changing mood of each section
-- tightly held in embraces, the couples yield to each other and the ground,
while defying gravity's pull by holding distinct poses, stretching and
turning towards and away from the mounting force. Gyorgy Ligeti's music,
a combination of various piano scores, drives the dancers forward and
its harshness creates a refreshing contrast to the angular, yet tender
shapes on stage. ‘Continuum' is a truly beautiful piece that allowed the
San Francisco Ballet to present its full range of talent.
Ratmansky's ‘Le Carnaval des Animaux' closed the evening on a light-hearted
note. The present artistic director of the Bolshoi Ballet borrowed the
basic structure of Camille Saint-Saen's study to create a parody on one
of ballet's biggest creations. In a slightly tangled fashion, the piece
unfolds by presenting the various animals, leading up to Mikhail Fokine's
‘Dying Swan' fluttering across the stage. It struck gold with the audience,
who relaxed into its jovial air and allowed the company to show yet another
side to its artistic abilities.
Edited by Mary Ellen.
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