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San Francisco Ballet 2007 The Sleeping Beauty
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Author:  RaHir [ Wed Feb 21, 2007 10:17 am ]
Post subject:  San Francisco Ballet 2007 The Sleeping Beauty

Initial Casting:

2/24/2007, 8 PM
Conductor: Martin West

Aurora: Yuan Yuan Tan
Prince Desiré: Tiit Helimets^
Lilac Fairy: Muriel Maffre
Carabosse: Anita Paciotti
Bluebird: Joan Boada
Enchanted Princess: Kristin Long

2/25/2007, 2 PM
Conductor: Martin West

Aurora: Rachel Viselli*
Prince Desiré: Davit Karapetyan*
Lilac Fairy: Elana Altman*
Carabosse: Parrish Maynard
Bluebird: Hansuke Yamamoto*
Enchanted Princess: Nutnaree Pipit-Suksun*

* Designates premiere in a role.
^ Designates premiere in Tomasson version.
Casting subject to change.

Author:  djb [ Wed Feb 21, 2007 11:00 am ]
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Parrish Maynard is coming back to play Carabosse! I thought he was wonderful in that role (and in numerous others).

Author:  LMCtech [ Thu Feb 22, 2007 4:01 pm ]
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Parrish has been teaching at the school for the last few years so it isn't much of a jump for him to run upstairs for a few Beauty rehersals. I loved him in Carabosse when he did it a few years ago. He looked like he was having a good time.

Author:  RaHir [ Thu Feb 22, 2007 4:52 pm ]
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More casting announced:

2/27/2007,8 PM
Conductor: Ormsby Wilkins

Aurora: Tina LeBlanc
Prince Desiré: Gennadi Nedvigin*
Lilac Fairy: Sarah Van Patten*
Carabosse: Parrish Maynard
Bluebird: Joan Boada
Enchanted Princess: Kristin Long

2/28/2007,7:30 PM
Conductor: Ormsby Wilkins

Aurora: Vanessa Zahorian
Prince Desiré: Gonzalo Garcia*
Lilac Fairy: Nutnaree Pipit-Suksun*
Carabosse: Muriel Maffre
Bluebird: Hansuke Yamamoto*
Enchanted Princess: Frances Chung*

3/1/2007,8 PM

Conductor: Martin West
Aurora: Rachel Viselli
Prince Desiré: Davit Karapetyan
Lilac Fairy: Elana Altman
Carabosse: Anita Paciotti
Bluebird: Joseph Phillips*
Enchanted Princess: Elizabeth Miner

* Designates premiere in a role.
^ Designates premiere in Tomasson version.
Casting subject to change.

Author:  RaHir [ Mon Feb 26, 2007 1:43 pm ]
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Smells like teen spirit
San Francisco Ballet’s “The Sleeping Beauty”
Saturday, February 24, 2006, 8PM

As a teen, the first full-length non-Balanchine story ballet I saw was The Royal Ballet’s “The Sleeping Beauty.” One of my fondest memories of this was the awe factor: the first time the fairies entered, Aurora balancing during the Rose Adagio, and later the celebratory wedding scene. Last year’s rendition by the Kirov Ballet didn’t quite hold up to my adolescent memories, but this weekend, San Francisco Ballet stood up to the challenge with its own version.

Choreographed by Artistic Director Helgi Tomasson (after Marius Petipa, of course) in 1990, this Sleeping Beauty paints more than just a pretty picture. Sure, there are attractive sets, happy corps de ballet dancers, lavish yet understated costumes and wigs, and the well-known story, but what’s more, there are also dancers with determination and spirit. Yuan Yuan Tan, Saturday’s Aurora, showed us that beauty is more than skin deep. While not completely believable as a genuine, sprightly 16 year old, Tan performed with grit and flow, with jaw dropping balances in attitude (I think I counted at least 5 seconds in there somewhere. Thank goodness for the evening’s conductor, Martin West, and his baton!) during the Rose Adagio. Later on, when she came “out of retirement” at the ripe ol’ age of 116, Tan seemed more relaxed and refined, allowing her upper body to flow more and adding a peaceful smile to her face. Maybe the 100-year nap was a good thing. Or perhaps this was her reaction to her newfound love for the ever-able Prince Desiré, portrayed by Tiit Helimets, who partnered her soundly and effortlessly throughout while displaying gorgeously centered pirouettes and fantastically light n’ fluffy (just how I like my pancakes!) beats.

With supple limbs and strength running tautly through her veins, the regal Muriel Maffre ruled the stage as the Lilac Fairy and showed that while pantomime in story ballets can sometimes be long winded, it can, if done just right, actually be beautiful to watch. Sarah Van Patten, tonight the Fairy of Generosity, has come far in the past few years, developing from a young unpretentious woman into a self-assured and commanding presence to complement her fine technique. But one of the biggest surprises of the night came from Dores Andre, a member of the corps de ballet, who made her debut as the Fairy of Serenity in Act I along with the White Cat to Matthew Stewart’s nimble Puss In Boots in Act III. Other than a slight bobble at the beginning of her initial variation, Andre danced with a quietness that had me on the edge of my seat, following her from corner to corner as she hopped, balanced, and hopped again. Just two hours later, she transformed into a slinky hip-bopping feline who could purr with the best of them.

Elizabeth Miner’s fluttering and quick-footedness as the Fairy of Playfulness and later the Sapphire Fairy brought a smile to people’s faces, and Molly Smolen was well received in the roles of the tough-as-nails Fairy of Courage and the Diamond Fairy. Nutnaree Pipit-Suksun, the Fairy of Tenderness, melted into every plié with ease, but sometimes her face told a different story. Two very different peas in a pod, Courtney Wright and Courtney Elizabeth sparkled as the Silver and Gold fairies. Wright’s dancing contained a more subtle shine, while Elizabeth glittered with more pizzazz. Katita Waldo (in for Kristin Long) and Joan Boada fluttered as the Enchanted Princess and the Blue Bird. Boada, with his smoldering good looks, seemed ready for takeoff, but Waldo looked out of place, and their partnering was shaky at best. Anita Paciotti's sinister yet gold-clad Carabosse (aka the Fairy of Darkness) creeped me out, and I can easily understand why she was “forgotten” on the guest list. Quinn Wharton was a boyish yet polished Mongolian Prince, and both Garrett Anderson and Jaime Garcia Castilla excelled playing the Cavaliers to the Jewel Fairies. One more of note was Nicole Grand as one of the Little Lilacs. Grand displayed great stage presence, always in character with a smile on and her head held high.

One nice, yet minor edit to Tomasson's "The Sleeping Beauty" is the recent removal of the 2nd intermission between Acts II and III. Yes, it's nice to have that "breather" in there, but for many families, a 3-hour ballet with young kids can be grueling.

There is a lot more to look forward to with this run, including Rachel Viselli’s debut as Aurora and several new Lilac Fairies (Elana Altman, Sarah Van Patten, and Nutnaree Pipit-Suksun). And with such a wonderful start, the momentum is sure to continue on.

Author:  RaHir [ Mon Feb 26, 2007 1:49 pm ]
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Fresh talent awakened by 'Beauty'
Rachel Howard, Special to The San Francisco Chronicle
Monday, February 26, 2007

Yuan Yuan Tan let go of her cavalier's hand in "The Sleeping Beauty's" Rose Adagio and held her attitude balance one second, two seconds, three seconds, four. It's a famous feat, and other esteemed ballerinas have managed it, but the twittering applause Saturday had to do with more than circus tricks.

Tan has long inspired love-hate reactions among San Francisco Ballet fans: love for her elegant, spindly lines and irrepressible glamour, and hate for her icy reserve. She's started to thaw in recent seasons -- her Odette in "Swan Lake" last year was as tender as she was tragic, but almost no one would have expected Tan's unfailing warmth as she bust onstage as Princess Aurora. From her first pas de chat, she was joyous, vulnerable, exuberant and, as she considered her suitors, downright bashful. You couldn't help but share in her triumph. And the transformation from Ice Princess to Princess Aurora was complete.


Author:  fluteboo [ Tue Feb 27, 2007 1:18 pm ]
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Sunday's Feb 25 matinee had clear high points, though the level of dancing was not consistent. Martin West's surprisingly quick tempos in the overture and interlude pieces kept the sense of time in this lengthy work from lagging. Yet during critical points his direction did not seem in sync with the dancers, such that phrases did not begin or end precisely together. This was particularly noticeable in the Rose adagio.

The Prologue fairies were well-commanded by Altman, who gave the Lilac Fairy a clear personality. Indeed, one of the most satisfying features of the afternoon was how many dancers held a character through what can be mere technical display. This is not easy in a story that has so little emotional development. One could easily imagine her as Myrta, and other Maffre roles.

Pipit-Suksun (Tenderness) and Andre (Serenity) danced capably, if rather low key. Van Patten's Generosity was strangely discombobulated, and later in the performance she fell completely out of an easy pose with a partner. The performance did not gain energy until Elizabeth Miner's fleet-footed Playfulness, so sparkling and light that one didn't have to guess her character. Smolen's Courage countered with equal conviction and control through this difficult passage. Once Maynard's Carabosse arrived, the cast had the audience in full thrall.

I understand the value of students in these productions, but should they include tiny children made to do port de bras beyond their ability? Leave them to Nutcracker, please. One of them had the adults breaking form into eye rolls over her mis-steps.

So how about Viselli? She entered with youthful exuberance and excitement, an Aurora on the brink of adulthood. She was aided by the princes, who served as more than barre substitutes by attentive interaction. Chidozie Nzerem, Siberian Prince, stood out through his caring partnering and ensemble dancing. Why is he not used more, or do we just not see him much on Sundays? Viselli handled the Adagio with aplomb despite a few bobbles. I thought of other Auroras I have seen, who held perfect balance yet offered little sense of character. She left no doubt as to why Helgi gave her this challenge.

Karapetyan gave his usual fully-committed, all-out performance. Yes, he is noisier than Helemits in some jumps, but who can fault his perfect double turns in air? His solos were the performance's highest points. He and Viselli are a new partnership, and at times they seemed to be working out minor adjustments, mostly during the Vision scene. They connected well emotionally in their characters nonetheless.

In the Wedding Scene, the standouts were Meyer-Lorey and Deisison as White Cat and Puss In Boots. She was lithe and luscious, he responding with appropriate lust. In all, a perfect marriage of acting with dance technique.

Yamamoto's Bluebird entered with suprisingly small leaps, yet developed most satisfactorily as his wonderfully subtle hand flutters complimented later moves. Accordingly, it took some measures for Pipit-Suksun to offer perfecting details, but once there, the pair were fully feathered creatures.

By the Grand Pas de Deux, Viselli and Karpetyan were secure with one another, as noted particularly in the glorious "fish" catches. Once again, though, the orchestra was not together with them at critical points. The
audience did not care, and gave them the special ovations they well earned. I wish I had the verbal acuity of others who post to describe the full impact of the performance

Author:  crandc [ Wed Feb 28, 2007 9:58 am ]
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I'm sorry, who was it you saw as Puss In Boots, fluteboo? Either a typo or a new dancer because the name is not familiar to me at all!

I go Saturday afternoon, Tina LeBlanc and Gennadi Nedvigen (Is that the correct current spelling?) in the leads, Sarah Van Patten as Lilac Fairy. Anyone see this particular cast yet?

Author:  RaHir [ Wed Feb 28, 2007 11:04 am ]
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Hi crandc- I think it's spelled Gennadi Nedvigin (but it's possible it's changed again!). fluteboo, did you see Daniel Deivison as Puss?

Author:  djb [ Wed Feb 28, 2007 1:28 pm ]
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crandc wrote:
I go Saturday afternoon, Tina LeBlanc and Gennadi Nedvigen (Is that the correct current spelling?) in the leads, Sarah Van Patten as Lilac Fairy. Anyone see this particular cast yet?

Yes, but I was only able to get there for the second half, so I'll be there on Saturday, as well.

Since most of the Lilac Fairy's dancing is in the first act, I can't say much about Sarah Van Patten except that she looked very lovely and benevolent. But I loved Tina LeBlanc and Gennadi Nedvigin (so what's new?) in their roles. LeBlanc's style and warm, radiant personality make her perfectly suited for Aurora. Technically she was, of course, absolutely secure. Her dancing is beautifully nuanced. In her variation in the grand pas de deux, there's a point where she does pas couru into a very low developpe. The contrast between the accelerating pas couru and the breathy lift and suspension of the little developpe, followed by the melting fondu of her supporting leg as her beautifully pointed foot softly touched the ground, elicited many a contented sigh from the audience around me.

Nedvigin's jumps were, as always, very high, seemingly effortless, and light in their landings. His variation was also full of satisfying details. After an astounding double cabriole (he has the best beats!), he stepped up into a fifth position on demi-pointe, punctuating it by closing his leg like scissors slicing. The double tours en l'air were perfect, but what put them over the top was the way he straightened up out of the plie. I've never seen anyone make that moment seem so important or so beautiful. He almost seemed to be saying, "And that is how you do a double tour."

Except for a couple of instances of supported pirouttes not being as secure as they should have been, the partnering was as smooth as the individual dancing, and the two had a very nice rapport.

I'm looking forward to seeing the first act on Saturday also because I'll get to see Parrish Maynard again as Carabosse. He got a big cheer in the curtain calls, so I assume he was as entertaining as I remember him being.

Speaking of Parrish Maynard, I always thought he had the most natural, believable way of gesturing when he performed princely roles. It was interesting to compare his quality to Nedvigin's, which looked so...Russian. That seems to entail an acknowledgment of being distanced from reality. But both ways of performing are beautiful.

I enjoyed the pas de six very much, but since I had rushed in late, I forgot to pick up a program and didn't have opera glasses, so I only recognized Elizabeth Miner, Hansuke Yamamoto, Molly Smolen and Courtney Wright. The dancing was uniformly excellent, with Smolen's powerful jumps standing out. I was also impressed by the female duet, half of whom was Courtney Wright. The two women appear to be on the tallish side, so their quickness and crispness was impressive (maybe their height was deceptive; I really don't know).

Author:  fluteboo [ Wed Feb 28, 2007 3:45 pm ]
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Yes, it was Daniel Deivison as Puss on Sunday afternoon. Sorry about the confusing spelling in my earlier post. (Typing without glassssses.)

Looking forward to reviews of other casts!

Author:  djb [ Wed Feb 28, 2007 6:08 pm ]
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How could I forget? I think Katita Waldo is the epitome of lightness and delicacy in ballet, which showed to great advantage in the Bluebird pas de deux.

Author:  Toba Singer [ Thu Mar 01, 2007 9:10 am ]
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”Sleeping Beauty,” San Francisco Ballet, War Memorial Opera House, San Francisco, February 27, 2007

Divine Right reasserted itself on U.S. shores last night as Tina Leblanc as Princess Aurora and Gennadi Nedvigin as Prince Desiré rescued their Empire by waking up an otherwise narcoleptic “Sleeping Beauty.”

The story is well known. First of all, we’re in a land that has an abundance of fairies and one of them who is here called the Fairy of Darkness and in other versions, Carabosse, puts a curse on the baby princess Aurora, who sure enough, when she’s out reveling one fateful night, after having rejected four suitors, gets pricked by a spindle hidden in a rose. In other versions, she’s just pricked by the rose because it is one of nature’s ironies that every one of those tricky flowers bears thorns. Thanks to the kindly Lilac Fairy, the sentence imposed by Fairy of Darkness’ is reduced from the death penalty to a one hundred year Beauty sleep, whereupon the Lilac Fairy, who is—bottom line—the Ultimate Wedding Planner, engineers a kiss from the Prince that awakens the Princess, and they get married. All of Christendom attends their wedding and gets to catch some really class acts. As the audience, we get to see them too, but hopefully from the vantage point of more perspective.

In this version, if you don’t read the program notes carefully and just go by the costumes, Princess Aurora falls asleep in the Middle Ages and awakes in something like the early 20th Century. I didn’t consult the library’s seminal work on costume, 20,000 Years of Costume, to confirm my suspicion that Aurora oversleeps here by about 500 years, by which time Father Gapon was gadding about Russia with Anna Pavlova and Diaghilev organizing strikes of the dancers against the Imperial Ballet! The costumes by Jens-Jacob Worsaae, (also credited for the sets) were splendidly turned out, the tutus as ornate as one can imagine. Historically, however, they veered a tad off the timeline, with those in the opening processional dressed in floor length caftans and then the Hunting Party Ladies decked out in calf-length gilt skirts and black blazers that looked like they came from the “Auntie Mame,” back lot costume shop, the black not very easy on the eyes against the dark green forest.

It’s a ballet with lots to do but not much to say, so when it becomes incoherent it can look like little more than a pageant with a talent show thrown in, and that’s why the staging is so absolutely key. The choreographer has to build an armature out of the supporting cast to generate anticipation about the fates of the ballet’s hero and heroine. Mystery, intrigue and romance must resonate, and the Lilac Fairy has the enormous task of suffusing the work with graciousness to bind the plot together and make us care that all goes well in the end for the protagonists. Apart from problems posed by costume anachronisms, that armature is what went missing from last night’s performance. The staging was linear and so the efforts of even the best dancers (and the men were especially at their best) were flattened. A work of this size, if not scope, can reveal more about the company’s weaknesses than is necessary. San Francisco Ballet has become a very large, strong company over the past five years, but it is in transition now, integrating a shank of new corps members, and having promoted a number of its dancers to the rank of soloist, wanting to try them out in roles previously danced by veterans. If you recall Katita Waldo’s Lilac Fairy of several seasons ago, it is hard to accept the version danced by Sarah Van Patten, who, though she has made big strides over the last year, seems unready to assume the beneficent “eyes everywhere” responsibility essential to that character. Without her stewardship, the ship falters and eventually sinks because in truth, the story provides no captain. It didn’t help that a member of the orchestra accompanying Van Patten went a whole measure off course during the final notes of her solo.

The Rose Adagio, which wasn’t identified as such in the program, was lovely as danced by Leblanc, but in this version, rather placing the four princes a few steps’ distance from the Princess to heighten the tension, the suitors tend to hover around her, very nearly passing her hand from one to the other, creating too much of a pileup onstage. They look like a support group instead of competitors. The Puss and Boots divertissement, danced by Pauli Magierek and James Sofranko, two of the company’s finest and most versatile dancers in my opinion, were hampered by tepid staging and not-contrasting white costumes. Waldo, as the Enchanted Princess was completely enchanting; her partner, Joan Boada seemed overwhelmed by his charge as Bluebird, and apart from stunning elevation and nice brisés volés, failed to fully connect with his character or his partner.

Gennadi Nedvigin is technically every inch of the way a story book prince and thanks to a single coquettish backward glance over her shoulder, Tina Leblanc was able to wake up his chemistry in the final pas de deux, which was a smashing success. He was challenged by an orchestra that was playing like a runaway horse and carriage, giving him barely enough time to straighten his knees and point his feet in the manege of his solo variation.

If you have never seen it before, it is worthwhile to go to get familiar with this ballet and appreciate the stage managing and feats achieved by the technical crew. I am certainly curious as to how other casts manage the challenges posed by this staging, but hope that future productions deliver more conceptually.

Author:  djb [ Thu Mar 01, 2007 1:16 pm ]
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Toba Singer wrote:
In this version, if you don’t read the program notes carefully and just go by the costumes, Princess Aurora falls asleep in the Middle Ages and awakes in something like the early 20th Century. I didn’t consult the library’s seminal work on costume, 20,000 Years of Costume, to confirm my suspicion that Aurora oversleeps here by about 500 years, by which time Father Gapon was gadding about Russia with Anna Pavlova and Diaghilev organizing strikes of the dancers against the Imperial Ballet!

Tomasson's version is set in Russia during the reign of Peter the Great. Those long caftans are clearly (to me, at least) long, Russian caftans, which were worn until Peter enforced western clothing on his court at the end of the 17th century. The court falls asleep before the big change and wakes up after. The costumes, as far as I can tell, are historically accurate. It's been awhile since I last saw the first act, and I'll have to wait until Saturday the confirm my memories, but it seems to me the courtiers in the first act bow in that distinctive old Russian style, that is, dropping the torso very low, breaking at the hips.

Author:  djb [ Thu Mar 01, 2007 1:49 pm ]
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I know about when the enforced change in clothing happened, but I don't actually know when Peter's rule began, so I shouldn't have stated that Tomasson's version takes place during the reign of Peter the Great, since all I know for sure is that the court wakes up during his reign. Maybe they went to sleep during his predecessor's reign.

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