CriticalDance Forum

Yuri Possokhov Farewell (& Legate & Brandenhoff)
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Author:  fluteboo [ Tue Apr 18, 2006 4:24 pm ]
Post subject:  Yuri Possokhov Farewell (& Legate & Brandenhoff)

Right after posting my comment about Yuri, I received the SFB announcement for the special May 5 farewell performance to honor his departure, along with that of Legate and Brandenhoff.

I hope Amanda Shull and Megan Low get to dance then as well!

I look forward to more Poussakov choreographies, though will much miss his intense dramatic performances, such as in The Lesson.


Author:  shallot [ Wed Apr 19, 2006 12:03 pm ]
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Yuri is a beautiful and eloquent dancer. I will miss seeing him perform.
I wonder if he plans to remain in some capacity with San Francisco Ballet?

Author:  RaHir [ Wed May 03, 2006 10:01 am ]
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San Francisco Ballet puts foot right with appointment
David Wiegand
San Francisco Chronicle
Wednesday, May 3, 2006

For those who have wondered where Yuri Possokhov will go when he retires from dancing with the San Francisco Ballet, Artistic Director Helgi Tomasson supplied the answer this week: He has named Possokhov as the company's choreographer in residence.

While the company often has guest dancemakers in, this is the first time San Francisco has conferred the title of choreographer in residence.

Now, that's a good ballet move.

For the rest of Wiegand's weekly arts update, go here.

Author:  Trixie G Street [ Sat May 06, 2006 6:51 pm ]
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Nobody went?



Author:  sf_herminator [ Sun May 07, 2006 12:55 am ]
Post subject:  A Farewell Celebration - My Report

Trixie G Street wrote:
Nobody went?




I am new to this board, but I did attend the Farewell Celebration last night. A friend and I have a full season subscription and bought tickets for this special performance when they went on sale. We were lucky to get 6th row orchestra seats!!!!

Here is the program:

In The Night - Jerome Robbins, Frederic Chopin
Rachel Viselli/Stephen Legate
Muriel Maffre/Damian Smith
Lorena Feijoo/Yuri Possokhov


Revelation - Motoko Hirayama, John Williams
Yuri Possokhov

Solo - Hans van Manen, JS Bach
Peter Brandenhoff, Stephen Legate, Pascal Molat

Balcony Pas de Deux from Romeo & Juliet - Helgi Tomasson, Sergei Prokofiev
Yuan Yuan Tan/Yuri Possokhov

'My Funny Valentine' from ....Smile With My Heart - Lar Lubovitch, Marvin Laird after Richard Rogers
Tina LeBlanc/Stephen Legate

'Summer' from Quaternary - Christopher Wheeldon, Arvo Part
Muriel Maffre/Yuri Possokhov

The night began with a brief introduction by Helgi. He thanked the honorees for their dedication and artistry.

In the Night was beautifully performed. I appreciated it more than last year. As the third couple, Lorena and Yuri were very passionate and dramatic. The other two couples were beautiful and effortless.

I was not familiar with the next two pieces, although I had read about Solo. The music for Revelation was the theme from the movie Schindler's List. There were some added sound effects at the beginning. Yuri was dressed in black pants and a red shirt that was not buttoned. The stage was bare except for a chair. Yuri's strength and stretch in this piece was unbelievable.

I was amazed at the speed of all the dancers in Solo, especially Pascal. I only wish that Peter had the opportunity to perform in another piece.

Yuan Yuan and Yuri performed the Pas de Deux even better than what I remember from last year. Yuri's jumping was unbelievable.

My Funny Valentine was very sweet and tender. Maybe because this was Stephen's last performance, I appreciated this piece more than last year.

I am always amazed when Yuri and Muriel dance. It was nice to see this again, especially after seeing them in Continuum last week.

At the end, Peter, Stephen, and Yuri took one final bow. Evelyn presented Stephen with a bouquet. I couldn't recognize who present Yuri and Peter with bouquets. For Yuri, it may have been Joanna Berman - but don't quote me on that. An Asian woman presented Peter's (Leslie Young???). Hopefully someone else can confirm. Helgi presented a bottle of champagne to each man. Then their dance paratners for the evening presented a bouquet. Next, the other performers from the evening (Damian, Pascal). Finally, the company came on stage to honor the men. Balloons and confetti showered the stage. It was a wonderful evening at the Opera House.

I can't confirm this either, but the ballet may have had a post-performance celebration at Citizen Cake. When my friend and I were walking home, we passed Citizen Cake. First, we saw a tray of cupcakes in the window. The we saw a sign on the door that they were closing at 9:30 for a private party. When we looked through the window, there were only employees. It was about 10:00 when we walked by.

A few other notes:
Last Sunday, Stephen Legate was the guest for Meet the Artist. The host was Evelyn Cisneros-Legate. It was a wonderful treat, especially since Stephen was also performing that afternoon (Elemental Brubeck). He spoke about how he left home at age 12 to train at the National Ballet of Canada. He came to San Francisco when there was a new artistic director in Canada. He came with some other dancers including Julia Adams. He will be attending chiropractic school in the fall. One of his favorite memories was performing Dance House with Joanna Berman. Elemental Brubeck is one of the most physically challenging pieces he has ever done.

Megan Low is scheduled to dance Sylvia tomorrow (Sunday 5/7). Amanda Schull danced this afternoon in Reflections.

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Sun May 07, 2006 5:11 am ]
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Welcome, thrice welcome, sf_h! What a great way to join CriticalDance, with this terrific description of an important evening. Hope we hear lots more from you over the months and years to come.

Author:  Azlan [ Sun May 07, 2006 4:13 pm ]
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It was indeed a thrilling evening, with a who's who list of dance celebrities, past and present, in the audience. In fact, with the program consisting mostly of small intimate works, most of the company was in the house instead of onstage. It led to a wildly passionate and rousing night, as we all rooted for the three men, Yuri Possokhov, Stephen Legate and Peter Brandenhoff, all of whom nailed their respective performances.

My favorite work was Hans van Manen's "Solo," danced enthusiastically by Brandenhoff, Legate and Molat, and Lar Lubovitch's "My Funny Valentine" with Tina LeBlanc and Legate tickled the fans. But it was Possokhov's riveting solo in Motoko Hirayama's "Revelation" that had us on the edge of our seats -- the roar of approval from every corner of the opera house at its conclusion sent a chill down my spine.

At the end of the program, in customary fashion, the company, led by Helgi Tomasson, former principal Evelyn Cisneros (Legate's wife) and former principal Joanna Berman, presented bouquets to the three stars. A sea of white balloons and confetti snowflakes added sparkle to the closing moments. My guests from PNB were suitably impressed.

Author:  sfbgroupie [ Sun May 07, 2006 7:33 pm ]
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I too attended the Farewell performance and echo the sentiments already expressed. It was a thrilling evening and everyone was at his/her very best. The honorees were all wonderful, especially Yuri who was so elegant, so graceful and dramatic. His Romeo & Juliet with Yuan Yuan took my breath away!

I was lucky enough to have an invitation to a backstage party held immediately after the performance on the stage. The company was all there, and everyone was in a great mood. Helgi again toasted Yuri, Stephen and Peter then each of them spoke about what SFB has meant to them. It was very emotional. Yuri spoke about his two families and his "inspiration," his teen-aged son. Peter thanked Helgi for "taking a chance on him..twice" referring to re-hiring him after he left for a year some years ago. Stephen alluded to the fact that his life was changed by SFB, having met his wife, etc. Evelyn was there with Ethan who is about four and looking adorable, and baby Sophia who is about a year old. Christopher Stowell came from Portland for the evening and I spoke with Wendy VanDyke, another former principal.

The evening really belonged to the three men! They were so grateful for the thunderous applause, oceans of flowers and overwhelming response from the most appreciative audience.

Peter will be performing in June with the SF Opera. Watch for him to be performing aroung the Bay area...and that's directly from him!

With Yuri now Choreographer in Residence and Stephen and Evelyn still connected to SFB through her work with the schools, we have not really lost them....thank goodness!

SFB Groupie

Author:  Toba Singer [ Sun May 07, 2006 9:46 pm ]
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Farewell Celebration upon the Retirement of Peter Brandenhoff, Stephen Legate and Yuri Possokhov from San Francisco Ballet Company, War Memorial Auditorium, San Francisco, CA

There seemed to be no time for extemporaneous speeches, as on similar occasions, such as the retirement of Christopher Stowell or Joanna Berman. Helgi Tomasson made very brief remarks at the top of the show, during which he thanked the three artists who were retiring for their dedication to the company and their artistry.

Jerome Robbins’ “In the Night” opened the program, and with the first movement to limpid piano accompaniment by Roy Bogas, with Stephen Legate in white, and Rachel Viselli in a ballerina length periwinkle blue tulle costume, I was preparing to write that the best thing about it was the star-studded midnight blue or black backdrop that twinkled when the dancing didn’t. The dancing looked under-rehearsed and uninspired. Viselli seemed very nervous, and Legate was slow and off the music in the end phrases. As time went on, the dancers warmed up to each other. However, much of the choreography in that movement seemed dated, with fluttering hands and the couples dancing the same steps in parallel. It was so tentative at times that it almost looked like they were marking rather than dancing. The overall effect was stiff, like a pair of marzipan figures designed for the top of a wedding cake.

The second movement with Muriel Maffre and Damian Smith was quite different. These two dancers carried forward the quaint façade for which the first movement set the precedent. Wearing mauve period costumes, they looked very much like music box dolls. Unlike the previous couple, they revealed something that lay beneath the façade—a studious commitment to the work, giving a precise, carefully inflected rendering of the steps. There are several turns and steps done en dehors, and where Legate just barely managed to arrive, the second couple took up the challenge with dispatch and theatrical gusto. In a series of quick movements, including lifts, jumps and rapid directional changes, Maffre was right on time, her pirouettes ending in a held position (held by her partner, Smith), which she accented with a foot flutter. She clearly owns her body, and goes on to appropriate the space it inhabits. We don’t say much about hair in our reviews, but this style perfectly suited Maffre, showing off her head and neck to its best advantage.

Lorena Feijoo and Yuri Possokhov danced the third set. It repeated the arm over arm lunges that were performed by the first couple, but took the conversation in a different and actually, opposite, direction. This couple wasn’t dancing in parallel: They were struggling with one another, pushing away, fighting against any temptation to find stasis, with Feijoo leading most of the time, and setting the warp speed tempo. The piece ends with a lift, half a drop and then Feijoo’s quick departure.

The last Chopin Nocturne brings back all the couples, and the numbers must make couple number one feel safer; their edges are smoothed away, and there is a hint here of a comedy of manners, as the dancers’ stylized waltz carries them to closure.
In “Revelation,” Possokhov partner’s a chair. He’s looking more fit in a red top and black pants, as he shoots across the stage with raised shoulders, sending the message that his character is decidedly unfit for the habitat he has created for himself. He makes an effort to remedy his condition by addressing it directly. He assumes a semi-levitated aerodynamic position, raising his prostrate body from the floor in one piece, and indeed, he looks to be floating above it. Gravity and its opposite, drive Motoko Hirayama’s choreography, with the chair as the platform for the piece. A violin opens the musical accompaniment, and Possokhov penchées over himself and onto the floor. He resumes the raised shoulder chase and brushing his arm across his face, wipes a certain look off it. His leaps still have sufficient ballon to leave him hovering in the air, after which he falls to his knees behind the chair, pokes his arms through the slats of its back, and gives us a kind of puppet master port de bras. The chair then becomes his burden, as he drags it behind him, firing off a couple of double tours, after which he mounts the chair. A couple of shoulder twitches follow and then he slaps the floor with his hands, as the rest of his body responds to the gravitational pull. Resignation is next (the least sanguine form of retirement), as he accommodates himself to the chair, then, with a change of heart (and plans), balances sideways on the chair back, with legs extended parallel to the floor. He triumphs in the end, perched on the overturned chair.

“Solo,” with choreography by Hans Van Manen gave us Peter Brandenhoff, Stephen Legate and Pascal Molat in a friendly “anything you can do I can do better” competition, with all of them winning. Brandenhoff’s facility and sheer enjoyment of the challenges in the choreography was infectious. It was hard not to delight as he took his en dehors turns, coming out of them looking angelic and yet triumphant. “Molat” must be French for “fouetté mill” because Pascal Molat churns them out in boastful spirals. Legate’s feet look great, even as his torso arrives a little late. The audience loved all three dancers, and I am especially fond of Brandenhoff’s work, wishing we could have seen more of it.

I assume that the balcony scene from “Romeo and Juliet” was chosen because Possokhov danced it with great success over the years. However, it seems a little incongruous to cast a principal dancer in the role of a star-cross’d teenaged lover in a program to celebrate his retirement. Yuan Yuan Tan was his Juliet, and though this is not my favorite version (Alun Jones’ is), Tan has a piquancy of facial expression that recalls Margot Fonteyn’s as Juliet, and that alone had me mesmerized. Both partners danced passionately, Possokhov still able to hang out at the top of his jumps, and Tan delivering statuesque en dehors arabesque turns, and in their pas de deux, when he brings her face to his, it speaks tenderness in a language that is universal. For me, the most authentic farewell moment of the evening came during the Reverence, when Possokhov kisses Tan, and she responds with a deep stage curtsey.

“My Funny Valentine” was danced by Legate, with Tina Leblanc as his partner, and it reminded us of what fine contemporary dancers both of them are, especially when the music (Richard Rogers) turns bluesy or jazzy, and tonight we get a real bistro hit off their well-manicured collaboration.

Seeing Christopher Wheeldon’s “Summer” movement from “Quartenary” for the third time this season, with Muriel Maffre as Possokhov’s partner, was like seeing it for the first time. Excerpted from the overall piece made it very different. In the full version, the “Summer” couple enters almost surreptitiously, where here they begin center/center. Previously, I didn’t engage with the “heat” of the season, but this time I saw that it wasn’t a wet heat, so much as a slow desultory temperature rise that finds its pinnacle right at the top of the piece with a knee hanging in the air: it belongs to Maffre. The dancers tuck into each other slowly and move together, even as Maffre resists with every fiber. It’s kind of a bellows-begotten heat that builds until the dancers work themselves into a Gordian Knot. She frees her legs and lets them swing in front of her as she might on a porch glider on a summer’s evening. In a kind of “Summer and Smoke” stillness, the piano notes of the Arvo Pärt score, played meticulously by Michael McGraw, punctuate that stillness like the slow tinkling of a wind chime. I’ve found the heat: it’s in the light, the music and the resistance of the bodies, spot-welded in time by the piano.

The evening closed with bouquets tossed stageward, and presented by hand to the retiring dancers by such retiree predecessors as Joanna Berman, Leslie Young and Evelyn Cisneros. Snow rolled down from the rafters, as white balloons floated upward, and the audience, which had risen many times over the course of the evening, rose once again for a last goodbye ovation.

Author:  Trixie G Street [ Mon May 08, 2006 12:15 am ]
Post subject: 

Ms. Singer remarked: The last Beethoven sonata brings...........

In the Night is danced to Chopin Nocturnes. :oops:

Music: Nocturne Opus 27 No. 1 (1835); Nocturnes Opus 55, No. 1 and No. 2 (1843); Nocturne Opus 9 No. 2 (1830-31) for solo piano by Frédéric Chopin
Choreography by Jerome Robbins
Premiere: January 29, 1970, New York City Ballet, New York State Theater
Original cast: Kay Mazzo, Anthony Blum, Violette Verdy, Peter Martins, Patricia McBride, Francisco Moncion

Author:  Toba Singer [ Mon May 08, 2006 7:40 am ]
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Yes, that is what the program states, and thinking I was hearing Moonlight Sonata or Pathetique at the end, I wrote down "sonata" in my notes, which I included in the review, having failed to check the program notes. Apologies!

Author:  LMCtech [ Mon May 08, 2006 1:05 pm ]
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Rachel Howard was there too.

From the SF Chronicle.

S.F. Ballet bids tearful farewell to 3 adored leads

Rachel Howard, Special to The Chronicle

Monday, May 8, 2006

Cheers and confetti rained upon the Opera House stage Friday as three of San Francisco Ballet's most beloved male dancers took their final bows there.

Stephen Legate has danced with the company for 15 years, Peter Brandenhoff for 14 and Yuri Possokhov, 12. Possokhov especially has been an artistic force at San Francisco Ballet, lending Russian passion across the repertory, staging "Don Quixote" alongside Artistic Director Helgi Tomasson, and launching his own highly promising choreographic career.

Yet something more than these dancers' collective contributions was being marked as the audience shouted and the red roses flew.


Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Mon May 08, 2006 1:21 pm ]
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Dear Toba and Trixie,

Thanks for the clarification re. "In the Night". To make sure that our readers and the Magazine staff get the correct version, I've amended Toba's original review in line with the agreed position ie replaced "Beethoven sonatas" with "Chopin Nocturnes" in the first line of the fifth para.

If anything I have done is not right, please go in and edit, Toba.

Best wishes


Author:  fluteboo [ Thu May 11, 2006 5:45 pm ]
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Contrary to an earlier post by sfbgroupie that Legate and Cisneros will remain in SF, they are moving south. Stephen mentioned in his interview before Sunday matinee Program 8 that they were both looking forward to being close to their families. Evelyn has taken a post directing the school connected to the troubled Pacific Ballet in Orange County. See the Orange County Register article:

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