SAN FRANCISCO BALLET INAUGURATES NEW
PARIS DANCE FESTIVAL
5-23 July 2005
THREE WEEKS, THREE PROGRAMMES,
THREE WORLD PREMIERES
San Francisco Ballet returns to Paris in July 2005 to inaugurate a brand new festival of dance to be staged annually in the very heart of the capital- les étés de la danse de paris. In recognition of its featured position as the only company performing in the three-week festival, San Francisco Ballet has commissioned three new works – one each from choreographers Lar Lubovitch, Paul Taylor and Christopher Wheeldon. The world premieres of the three ballets will constitute one of two mixed-bill programmes the company plans to present. The second mixed-bill programme showcases ballets by George Balanchine and San Francisco Ballet’s artistic director Helgi Tomasson who is celebrating his 20th year with the company. The full-length production of Don Quixote by Tomasson and Yuri Possokhov will be the last of the three programmes the company will present in July.
Under artistic directorship of Claude Bessy, les étés de la danse is managed by former Paris Opera Ballet dancer Valéry Colin who has staged spectacular dance gala events in numerous countries throughout the world including Hungary, Vietnam and Mexico. les étés de la danse will be an outdoor festival staged against the backdrop of the elegantly restored 18th century Hotel de Rohan, home of the national archive, in the Marais district of Paris. The festival has been conceived to fill a void in the arts calendar in Paris when many theatres and institutions close for the summer, although the city is still well populated by both residents and visitors.
San Francisco Ballet is now a regular visitor to Europe and enjoys an enviable reputation of triumphant seasons wherever it performs. This fourth visit to Paris, with seven ballets and a full-length production, is the kind of programming challenge that artistic director Helgi Tomasson relishes.
Programme 1 – New Works
5, 13, 15 & 16 July 9.30pm
Paul Taylor is as much loved and honoured in France as he is in the United States: among his numerous awards and accolades he received the country’s highest recognition, the Légion d'Honneur, for exceptional contributions to French culture. San Francisco Ballet has just two of Taylor’s ballets in its repertoire (Sunset and Company B), making this the first time Paul Taylor has ever created a work for San Francisco Ballet.
Lar Lubovitch too will create a work for the company for the very first time. San Francisco Ballet has added his full-length Othello to its repertoire (a co-commission with American Ballet Theatre who premiered the production) and performed it at the Paris Opera as part of its last visit in 2001. Lubovitch’s smile with my heart will be performed as part of San Francisco Ballet’s home season in 2005. Chicago-born Lubovitch has choreographed for Olympic ice-skaters, the movie screen and Broadway shows as well as for the world’s leading dance companies.
Tomasson has championed the work of young British choreographer Christopher Wheeldon, and has consistently commissioned new work from him since 2000 when Wheeldon created Sea Pictures, his first work for San Francisco Ballet. An all-Wheeldon programme for San Francisco Ballet’s Edinburgh Festival season in 2003 set the seal on their relationship and this new work for Paris will be his fourth ballet for the California-based company.
Programme 2 – Mixed programme
7, 8, 9, 11 &12 July
Tomasson danced for Balanchine for 15 years as a principal dancer with New York City Ballet and his understanding and appreciation of the master choreographer’s work are evident in the performances of his dancers, as well as in the inspiration for his own works. Three of the four works being presented were recently performed by the company in London (September 2004) where they were highly acclaimed.
Square Dance (1957)
Composers: Vivaldi, Corelli Choreography: George Balanchine
One of Balanchine’s greatest essays in speed, clarity and fancy footwork, Square Dance is a joyous ballet all about stamina for every dancer on stage. Generally regarded as one of Balanchine’s ‘Americana’ ballets, this 1976 version is a more pristine, elegant work than the original 1957 version with its more obvious allusions to the American vernacular dance.
“The dancers shine…in Balanchine’s Square Dance…” (Debra Craine, The Times 22.9.04).
Concerto Grosso (2003)
Composer: Francesco Geminiani
Choreography: Helgi Tomasson
Justifiably proud of the strong male ensemble within SFB, Tomasson choreographed this work specifically to show off their majestic classicism in bravura dancing. Hailed by the San Francisco Chronicle as ‘ravishing’ it is an elegantly jubilant 12-minute piece for five male dancers that exhibits both ensemble and individual strength and artistry.
“The dancers in San Francisco tend to be strong individuals with big jumps, and Tomasson’s brightly torqued choreography has created a perfect transmitter for their energies.” (Judith Mackrell,The Guardian 23.9.04)
7 for Eight (2004)
Composer: Johann Sebastian Bach
Choreography: Helgi Tomasson
Tomasson learned from Balanchine that loving the music is imperative when choreographing a new piece and he is particularly inspired by these Baroque works for piano and harpsichords, exploring through movement the emotional and physical terrain of the score. Clothed in elegant black and dancing on a minimalist stage, the eight dancers cycle through a complex series of theme and variations which fit neatly into seven musical movements.
“…a work that established the choreographer at a new level of development where his two artistic faces – the classical and expressive – merge. For a man of few words, his ballet overflowed with spare and resonant poetry.” (San Francisco Chronicle).
Who Cares? (1970)
Composer: Gershwin Choreography: George Balanchine.
Balanchine's Who Cares? was first performed by New York City Ballet
in 1970, and had its San Francisco Ballet premiere in 1992. Set to
familiar songs by George and Ira Gershwin, Who Cares? has no story and is just a joyous, romantic response to the music, including The Man I Love, and the song for which the ballet is named, Who Cares?
Programme 3 – Don Quixote
20, 21, 22 & 23 July 9.30pm
Composer: Ludwig Minkus
Choreographers: Tomasson & Possokhov after Petipa.
San Francisco Ballet gave the sparkling premiere of this new production in March 2003. Both Helgi Tomasson and his co-choreographer Yuri Possokhov have danced the ballet’s showpiece pas de deux on many occasions during their dancing careers, but never performed the entire full-length ballet. For this production the two choreographers have added more newly found Minkus music and Tomasson has choreographed a new second-act adagio for the two main characters Kitri and Basilio, set to music by V.Soloviev-Sedoy. A ballet such as this, with its multitude of demi-caractere roles and high-level energy and joie de vivre, is the perfect opportunity for San Francisco Ballet dancers to display another aspect of their training and skills.
The festival ballets will be performed to specially recorded music.