San Francisco Ballet
'Trio', 'RAkU', 'Voices of Spring', 'Number Nine'
by Carmel Morgan
November 13, 2012 -- JFK Center for the Performing Arts, Opera House, Washington, DC
The end of the 2012, just prior to Nutcracker season, brought the San Francisco Ballet (“SFB”) to DC’s Kennedy Center. It was nice to see this company on the East Coast, and especially nice to be treated to a mixed program featuring diverse works, including three DC premieres that had debuted in San Francisco in 2011. Although Sir Frederic Ashton’s 1977 “Voices of Spring” was the lone “oldie” in an evening showcasing new pieces choreographed for the company, it held up well and garnered several delighted giggles from the audience. Maria Kochetkova and her partner Joan Boada playfully breezed through the brief light duet. The pair crisply executed the slightly clownish classical work. Kochetkova tripped along in the air like a happy pony as she was guided by Boada. At another point, held high aloft, pink petals rained from her fingertips.
The gem of the night, as judged by the huge amount of enthusiastic audience applause, was “RAkU,” a Japanese-inspired ballet by Yuri Possokhov, a choreographer in residence with the SFB. “RAkU” elicited gasps of wonder, rather than giggles. The audience was greeted with truly gorgeous sets (Alexander V. Nichols), costumes (Mark Zappone), and lighting design Christopher Dennis), and also a terrific original musical score by Shinji Eshima that was commissioned for the piece and that incorporated a live Buddhist chant. According to program notes written by Cheryl A. Ossola available on the SFB’s website, Possokhov based“RAkU” on the burning of Kyoto’s Golden Pavilion in 1950, but set the work in an earlier time period, where samurai with swords still roamed Japan.
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