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 Post subject: Programme 2 - 'Sea Pictures', 'Glass Pieces', 'Buga
PostPosted: Sat Aug 11, 2001 8:31 am 
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This post acts as a starter for Programme 2. Below is an extract from one of our preview articles:<P><B>Programme 2</B> opens with Christopher Wheeldon's <A HREF="http://www.criticaldance.com/ubb/Forum4/HTML/000655.html" TARGET=_blank><B>'Sea Pictures'</B></A>. Here in the UK we have been hearing great things about this local boy who is proving so successful in the US, so it will be very good to see this recent work. <P><A HREF="http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/1995/04/07/DD66262.DTL" TARGET=_blank><B>'Bugaku'</B></A> is one of Balanchine's most controversial pieces, so it will be especially interesting for those of us who will be seeing it for the first time.<P>The programme closer is <A HREF="http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/1999/02/06/DD94606.DTL" TARGET=_blank><B>'Glass Pieces'</B></A>, the second creation in the season by Jerome Robbins. Octavio Roca, writes, 'For all its mad rush, it strikes a note of solace, of acceptance and of joy.'


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 Post subject: Re: Programme 2 - 'Sea Pictures', 'Glass Pieces', 'Buga
PostPosted: Sun Aug 12, 2001 10:24 am 
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A New York critic, I forget which one, commented San Francisco's Bugaku is centered higher than City Ballet's.


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 Post subject: Re: Programme 2 - 'Sea Pictures', 'Glass Pieces', 'Buga
PostPosted: Mon Aug 13, 2001 10:37 am 
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I definitely recommend <I>Sea Pictures</I>, which I believe to be a well-constructed ballet, very poignant and very English to these American eyes. It will be interesting to see how Londoners react to it. For me, it was reminiscent of Tudor, with a bit of MacMillan (video background).<P>You are right, Albrecht, <I>Bugaku</I>, and for that matter <I>Glass Pieces</I>, as performed by SFB are slightly different than NYCB's but I see it as a variation that isn't necessarily better or worse.


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 Post subject: Re: Programme 2 - 'Sea Pictures', 'Glass Pieces', 'Buga
PostPosted: Tue Aug 14, 2001 1:37 pm 
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This just in. OdileGB reports from London:<P> <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>The house was less full than Monday night and the reception generally less enthusiastic.<P>"Quartette" is a nice piece, probably not the best to open a program with. It was politely received.<P>"Sea Pictures" went down very well. Very impressed by Joanna Berman.<P>"Bugaku" won't be one of my favorites. However, Yuan Yuan Tan was amazing. She was very flexible.<P>Quite taken by "Glass Pieces." It really shows off the company.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>


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 Post subject: Re: Programme 2 - 'Sea Pictures', 'Glass Pieces', 'Buga
PostPosted: Tue Aug 14, 2001 1:55 pm 
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Sorry to hear about the smaller audience, OdileGB. I wonder if the Hochhausers will think again about not having any special offers. <P>I spoke by phone with David Slade who is writing a review for us. His initial thoughts were similar to those of yours. David particularly enjoyed the pas de deux sections from Wheeldon's 'Sea Pictures' and thought that 'Glass Pieces' by Jerome Robbins was a fine work which showed the company off a treat.


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 Post subject: Re: Programme 2 - 'Sea Pictures', 'Glass Pieces', 'Buga
PostPosted: Tue Aug 14, 2001 3:09 pm 
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I thought there were less people - there were empty seats - but I thought the people were more appreiciative ie less husbands dragged along for the first night.<P>Here are the results of the jury that attended in row G - 3 lawyers and one former member of NYCB:<P>1. Quartette - this piece was well recieved - brings out the qualities of the 4 dancers (Waldo, Feijoo, Long, LeBlanc) with clean movements reminiscent of Helgi's dancingwhen he was dancing with NYCB (as observed by said dancer friend);<P>2. Sea Pictures - went down extremely well and, I might add, got the biggest applause and whoops so far for the SFB which is quite a departure from the poor reception by San Francisco critics when it was premiered last year;<P>3. Bugaku - wow- every bit as good as Allegra Kent for whom the ballet was created except that Yuan Yuan Tan brought an authenticity of orientalism that even Kent could not. We thought Helgi must have taken Tan on thinking how good she would be in this role;<P>4. Glass Pieces - showed the strength of the company except that there is a great disparity between the large number of principals and the soloists and corps. I look forward to interviewing Mr Vilanoba tomorrow - wonderful pas de deux with the contained Muriel Maffre....<P>Most memorable moment so far of SFB in London - Yuan Yuan Tan. But I am enthralled by this company and cannot wait for Programme 3.<P>


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 Post subject: Re: Programme 2 - 'Sea Pictures', 'Glass Pieces', 'Buga
PostPosted: Wed Aug 15, 2001 5:57 am 
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A correction, Emma. I believe it was only one or two critics in SF that disliked <I>Sea Pictures</I>. Otherwise it was very will received by the audiences and critics alike.


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 Post subject: Re: Programme 2 - 'Sea Pictures', 'Glass Pieces', 'Buga
PostPosted: Wed Aug 15, 2001 7:06 am 
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Well received? Was it? Hmmmmm.....<P>;-)


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 Post subject: Re: Programme 2 - 'Sea Pictures', 'Glass Pieces', 'Buga
PostPosted: Wed Aug 15, 2001 8:46 am 
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I too am remembering a hostile reaction to "Sea Pictures." Critics called it silly and trite--harsh. I remember liking it and seeing all the bad reviews and then feeling vindicated when Tomasson went ahead a programmed it to be the first piece on the first program of the 2001 SF season.


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 Post subject: Re: Programme 2 - 'Sea Pictures', 'Glass Pieces', 'Buga
PostPosted: Wed Aug 15, 2001 10:10 am 
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A review from David (TUK) Slade:<P> <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>SAN FRANCISCO BALLET<BR>TUESDAY 14 AUGUST 2001<BR>ROYAL OPERA HOUSE, COVENT GARDEN<P>PROGRAMME<P>QUARTETTE (1994)<BR>Choreographer: Helgi Tomasson<BR>Composer : Antonin Dvoøák<BR>Cast: Katita Waldo, Loren Feijoo, Kristin Long, Tina LeBlanc<BR>Pianist: Michael McGraw<P>SEA PICTURES (2000)<BR>Choreographer: Christopher Wheeldon<BR>Composer : Edward Elgar<BR>Cast: Lulie Diana, Damian Smith, Joanna Berman, Yuri Possokhov et al<BR>Mezzo Soprano: Diana Moore<P>BUGAKU (1963)<BR>Choreographer: George Balanchine<BR>Composer : Toshiro Mayuzumi<BR>Cast: Yuan Yuan Tan, Cyril Pierre et al<P>GLASS PIECES (1994)<BR>Choreographer: Jerome Robbins<BR>Composer : Philip Glass<BR>Cast: Leslie Young, Vadim Solomakha, Tiekka Schofield, Damian Smith, Sherri LeBlanc, Zachary Hench, Muriel Maffre, Pierre-François Vilanoba and corps de ballet<P>Having only a week at the Royal Opera House to impress itself upon a relatively new audience San Francisco Ballet have opted for three programmes of short pieces that illustrate the breadth of its repertory. The second of these, shown on Tuesday night, was illustrative of the importance of putting together programmes in a way that draws in those unfamiliar with the company.<P>Starting with Artistic Director Helgi Tomasson's 'Quartette' was perhaps not the best of choices. It is a sweet, rather inoffensive work that offers four of the company's ballerinas an opportunity to indulge in a contemporary reinterpretation of romantic lyricism. The high, steely strong leg lines create a contrast to the more fluid softness of some of the port de bras as the choreographic flow takes in the dynamic qualities of the music. Yet there is something rather unsatisfying about the piece. It is neither aesthetically particularly interesting nor does it seem to give the dancers an opportunity to really impress themselves upon a new audience. Perhaps it is the lack of any major contrast between the various parts of the piece. The selection of piano music by Dvoøák seems to have been put together in a way that exacerbates this uniformity. Only towards the end where it references the familiar idioms of folk music does it come alive as a suite of dances. The choreographic response is immediate and perhaps a little obvious, flexed feet with heels to floor, but within the context of the whole piece it creates a welcome break from the evenness by which it was proceeded. However the work seems trite, a self consciously balletic piece that appeals to many of the popular preconceptions of the art form as being attractive but without depth.<P>The Tuesday night cast, Katita Waldo, Loren Feijoo, Kristin Long and Tina LeBlanc, danced with a quiet restraint that never really imposed itself upon the viewer. At times in the opening section one seemed visually out of sequence, though subtle variation of canon and unison may have produced this apparent deviation. In general this, the four solos that followed and the finale were performed with precision, though not really springing to life until the aforementioned folk references appeared. The audience response was predictably polite but restrained, not boding well for the rest of the programme. Mention though should be made of Michael McGraw's playing which was crystal clear and beautifully intonated throughout.<P>It was immediately followed by Christopher Wheeldon's 'Sea Pictures'. Set to Elgar's cycle of five songs and with a background of back projected sea scenes it unfolds as a series of dances in which the opposing forces of love and the draw of the ocean are explored. Wheeldon seems to sketch characters within the piece yet it is not really till the fourth section that any real narrative seems to emerge. The love story, unfolded in a single pas de deux, inevitably leads to loss as the man fails to return from the sea. The finale becomes an expression of grief that ends with a final suicidal leap of the woman from a cliff. Somehow it was too reminiscent of Tosca. The emotional yet beautifully restrained quality of Elgar's music, eloquently given voice to by Diana Moore, seemed at odds with this imposition of melodrama.<P>Choreographically the work has moments of exceptional beauty, lying mostly within the interactions of the male and female dancers. Wheeldon has a wonderful ability to create transitions between lifts and supportive movements that can either flow or come as an astonishing surprise. This sense of invention lifts parts of the choreographic line in a way that touches on the sublime but which dissipates in the more symbolic formulations he uses, such as the figurative boat formed by the male dancers. However, the commitment of the company, the ballet having been made for and on them, gave the piece a resonance that overcame much of the less interesting aspects of the choreography. As a result the audience response was much warmer.<P>Balanchine's 'Bugaku', which followed the first interval, was a rather strange choice. It seems within the contemporary context a rather dated work that uses cultural references as decoration rather than exploring any synthesis between art forms from different countries. In this it has considerable historical antecedence, particularly in many of the works of Petipa. The scenery, a simple but strongly delineated space taking up only a part of the stage, confines the piece within the perceived formality of its Japanese setting. Yet other aspects, such as the tutus shaped like chrysanthemum flowers or the music which is squarely western with a mere hint at Japanese sound texture, sit a little uncomfortably now. Obviously this is a reflection built on nearly thirty years of expanded awareness of other cultures but it makes viewing certain aspects of the ballet rather uncomfortable.<P>To their great credit the dancers perform the piece with a straightness that avoids it slipping into pastiche. The motif development, mostly in flexed feet and knees, courus and heel walks, is given a clarity that reveals the intricacy of much of the choreographic line. This is after all a Balanchine work and stripping away the frippery of its references reveals a strongly aesthetic response that is made visually striking, particularly in the dancing of Yuan Yuan Tan. She achieves the usual extremes of movement with a wonderful fluid grace. This allows her to revel in the central pas de deux with Cyril Pierre, which retains its erotic potential despite the passage of time. The couple alone on stage fill the space with a sensuality that is almost tactile, his strength matching her suppleness. After this the ballet seemed almost anti-climatic, as it once again took on the aura of rigid formality overlaying a typically balletic choreographic text. The audience reaction was quite cold.<P>With the programme seeming to have fallen rather flat it was both a relief and a joy to see and feel it spring to life with the final piece, Jerome Robbins 'Glass Pieces'. Starting in an almost painful light it opens to an insistent and simple movement of the corps walking in mass around and across the stage. Their rhythmic energy picks up that of the music, intensifying the sense of an emotional distance that contrasts with their physical proximity. As in turn three couples emerge the simplicity of their initial choreographic statement, a jump bringing the feet together in a natural position, forms an astonishing contrast to the movement of the group. Each duo has an almost geometrical quality, the bodies shaping the space around them like lines drawn on the graph paper backdrop.<P>The second section commences with a repetitive movement phrase that leads a line of dancers across the back of the darkened blue-lit stage. This acts as a counterpoint to the pas de deux, exquisitely performed by Muriel Maffre and Pierre-François Vilanoba. The constant repetition gives the work an almost fractal quality, where overall form of the work reflects the form of its parts. The effect is wonderfully mesmeric.<P>The final section commences with the intense energy of the male corps de ballet in movements almost mechanical in their repetition. Joined by its female members it was wonderfully revealing of the ability of the company to absorb and display the fusion of balletic and modern idioms inherent to the piece. Within this, probably the most intellectually challenging piece of the evening, they connected with the audience in a way that had not really happened throughout the evening and the warm final response was well deserved.<P>Despite the expressed reservations about the programming, San Francisco Ballet is a company that clearly has considerable depth of artistic understanding and commitment. It is to be hoped that they become a familiar visitor to the London dance scene after this present season concludes.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>


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 Post subject: Re: Programme 2 - 'Sea Pictures', 'Glass Pieces', 'Buga
PostPosted: Wed Aug 15, 2001 1:05 pm 
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<B>Flash review: Programme 2 - Wednesday, 15th August</B><P>In Programme 1 it was the boys who made the biggest impression on me, but tonight it was the turn of the girls. Unfortunately it was a thin house, maybe 60% full and the acoustic had an echo that I hadn't heard in the ROH before.<P>'Quartette' by Helgi Tomasson struck me as a charming, if slight, showcase for the four girls. Katita Waldo impressed with her control of changes of pace in Variation 1 and Loreno Feijoo brought great flair to Variation 2. Vanessa Zahorian danced the folk dance elements of Variation 4 with natural grace.<P>Christopher Wheeldon's 'Sea Pictures' generated much emotion and the choreography held my attention. Julie Diana was dreamy as the loving second lead. Joanna Berman and Yuri Possokhov were a delight in the pas de deux. In her unflashy, but expressive style Berman was particularly impressive. The final section, after Possokhov is reported as drowned, seemed to lose its way. Despite Berman's efforts, Wheeldon's steps did not seem to generate much sense of grief and the work ended on a flat note. <P>I can see why Balanchine's 'Bugaku' is a controversial work that could look like nothing at all. But we had Lucia Lacarra and I don't think i have seen another work by this strong ensemble company where one dancer has dominated the proceedings so completely. Lacarra was mesmerising in her precision and the small, expressive movements of her hands, arms and head. The audience were very impressed and I don't think I will ever forget it.<P>Jerome Robbins' 'Glass Pieces' is fascinating as the first dance work to minimalist music and the precursor to fine dances by Anna Teresa de Keersmaeker and others. The audience loved the dynamism of the final section and the slow central pas de deux with the wonderful Yuan Yuan Tan and the mighty Cyril Pierre. It never quite ignited for me, perhaps because the playing sounded a little mushy in this work which demands great clarity to bring out the dancey quality.<P>Overall another evening of fine, adventurous dance. Come on London, TV's not that good at the moment! <BR><p>[This message has been edited by Stuart Sweeney (edited August 15, 2001).]


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 Post subject: Re: Programme 2 - 'Sea Pictures', 'Glass Pieces', 'Buga
PostPosted: Wed Aug 15, 2001 2:09 pm 
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Egads... Was I the only one in SF who liked <I>Sea Pictures</I>?


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 Post subject: Re: Programme 2 - 'Sea Pictures', 'Glass Pieces', 'Buga
PostPosted: Wed Aug 15, 2001 2:16 pm 
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No Azlan you're not - read on...


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 Post subject: Re: Programme 2 - 'Sea Pictures', 'Glass Pieces', 'Buga
PostPosted: Wed Aug 15, 2001 2:18 pm 
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Well what a diverse and entertaining evening. As my first introduction to SFB I can’t think of a better way to have been baptized.<P>The first piece, Quartette was a pleasant introduction to the evening showing off the technical abilities of Waldo, Feijoo, Long and Zahorian. I was impressed by the musicality and also speed of these 4 soloists particularly during their solos. Well coloured flowing costumes enhanced the clean lines of the four soloists and the colour matching of the lighting design on the cyclorama was very pleasing on the eye to me.<P>For me the evening really got under way with Christopher Wheeldon’s Sea Pictures. An extremely evocative piece I was impressed by the momentum and fluidity of the partner work with very imaginative and cleanly executed lifts. The company not only put across the multi faceted movements of the sea extremely effectively but also presented a very clear narrative. The backstage technical departments I felt played a great part in enhancing the dancer’s and choreographers achievements with this work, the beautiful still photographic projections evoking the sea – its’ beauty, its’ power and it’s ultimate devastation, I also thought the use of colour in this piece was very effective, the muted greys and sands of both costumes and projections intrinsically linking the performers and the backdrop and their inevitable culmination.<P>Joanna Berman is a lovely dancer, wonderful technical ability, presence and emotion but with a lovely understated quality that worked very well for her role in this piece. Sea Pictures is a collaboration of song, dance and backstage elements working beautifully together and really I feel needs several viewings to completely appreciate how effectively all are working together.<P>After the interval we moved onto George Balanchine’s Bugaku. What a delight Lucia Lucarra is. What precision, what flexibility and what emotion, Lucarra has all of these in abundance and this role certainly highlighted all of these areas. Once on stage it was hard to look at anyone else, although the corps in their flowing white “trains” produced one of the most effective visual pictures of the evening.<P>The passion and emotion oozed from the stage during Laccarra and Legate’s pas de deux. What a role for me to see Lacarra in for the first time.<P>The final piece of the evening was Jerome Robbin’s Glass Pieces. Although I was very impressed with this work there was something that didn’t quite ignite for me to leave me with the same excitement that I felt for Bugaku and Sea Pictures, which is a pity as I am sure this piece had the potential to do this for me. I very much enjoyed the exuberance of the male ensemble in Rubric and this made a refreshing contrast to what had been up to now the ladies of the company’s evening. The pattern forming and precision of lines and of entrances and exits was also very effective. And a mention should be made to lighting which I felt was first class all evening. Particularly in this piece though the contrast between a silhouette state to the bright starkness at the beginning and end of the piece I found very effective. <P>This I feel was an excellent and varied programme and a wonderful introduction to SFB’s repertoire. <BR>


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 Post subject: Re: Programme 2 - 'Sea Pictures', 'Glass Pieces', 'Buga
PostPosted: Wed Aug 15, 2001 4:53 pm 
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I thought Sea Pictures was superb. very moving, and Wheeldon shows such imagination and a great sense of theatre. The contrasting moods of the songs were well interpreted. The lyrical sweetness yet underlying yearning in Where Corals lie was very touching, but for me the highlight was the fourth song, with a pas de deux for Beman and Posskhov which somehow managed to combine styles from Ashton and the Bolshoi, but was most original. Berman is a glorious artist, and her bourreed entrance here through the line of men was breathtaking. I loved it, and was glad to see Mr Wheeldon at the interval to tell him. YY Tan was exceptional in Bugaku.


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