CriticalDance Forum

SMUIN, Cowell Theater, SF, 11/7/99
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Author:  Cygnet [ Wed Nov 10, 1999 1:57 pm ]
Post subject:  SMUIN, Cowell Theater, SF, 11/7/99

Every time I attend to a performance at the Cowell Theatre in San Francisco, I am embraced by a wonderful sense of intimacy that is unique to very small theaters. This warmth was a contrast to the rain and that shadowed the view of the Golden Gate Bridge, and was enhanced by a sold-out house. Smuins Ballets presented Chants D'Auvergne, Quattro a Verdi (Q. a V.), Dream and Les Noces. Chants D'Auvergne: There is no story to this ballet. The beautiful chants provided a backdrop for the five couples that portrayed young french villagers, who found themselves sharing feelings of love, jealousy, flirtations and romance. The songs are in an old Provencal dialect so the audience has to rely in what the dances are portraying. The choreography was simple and flowing, and I must add that the costumes were very well suited for the choreography and music. Quattro a Verdi (Q. a V.) is a beautiful (and difficult) exercise in classical ballet technique, reminiscent of Petipa. I felt the female dancers were not prepared to meet such a demanding task, although their side by side fouett├Ęs were perfectly coordinated, which sparked quite an effusive applause. The male dancers looked strong, both technically and physically. Dream is an adagio performed on Chopin. It was performed by Celia Fushille-Burke and Eastom Smith. Nijinska and Kylian, and Jerome Robbins among others have choreographed Les Noces. It is the story of a Russian peasant wedding. Smuin's choreography was intricate, complicated, and very interesting. <BR>I am curious as to what others thought of this performance, maybe we can discuss it a little more?

Author:  Azlan [ Thu Nov 11, 1999 10:04 am ]
Post subject:  Re: SMUIN, Cowell Theater, SF, 11/7/99

Wonderful observations, Cygnet. I liked Les Noces the best of all the works on show. There was certainly a degree of sexuality between the bride and groom that I had not anticipated, especially in the few provocative "coupling" scenes where their legs are wrapped around each other. My original understanding of Les Noces was that these were two young and innocent kids who were subject to this wedding ritual by their elders. Instead, here we have a couple who obviously had been together prior to marriage.<P>Another thing I was struck by is there wasn't really any reference to the wedding other than the bit at the end with the candles being brought together. Interesting.<P>Overall, I like this group of works -- that are more classical in nature -- but I hope Smuin will have a more distinguished pool of dancers on which to set his works in the future.<p>[This message has been edited by Azlan (edited 11-11-1999).]

Author:  Lucy [ Fri Nov 12, 1999 8:46 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: SMUIN, Cowell Theater, SF, 11/7/99

This was the second time that I have seen the Smuin company. The first was in NY where I thought that his dancers were stronger, and he presented a program more to my liking. The company seems to me not to have grown much. Still you can't beat his pas de deux Eternal Idol. I wish that had been on the program instead of Q.A V.

Author:  Azlan [ Sun Nov 14, 1999 5:21 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: SMUIN, Cowell Theater, SF, 11/7/99

Lucy, Q.a.V. may have suffered because the dancers may not have been up to the challenge of this precise classical piece. When I saw Dance Galaxy do it -- albeit with a few variations -- I just loved the sense of momentum of the work. I felt propelled forward and it was exciting being whisked along by it.

Author:  Michael [ Wed Nov 17, 1999 6:47 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: SMUIN, Cowell Theater, SF, 11/7/99

This was my first time to see Smuin. I had heard they were so-so, but I enjoyed myself. Les Noces in particular was well done, mostly due to the dancing of Allison Jay. Michael Smuin said that they could not do Les Noces without her. I believe him.<BR>

Author:  rr [ Wed Nov 24, 1999 1:42 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: SMUIN, Cowell Theater, SF, 11/7/99

Having heard the SF Symphony perform Les Noces last June and reading the very informative program, I think Smuin captured the essence of Stravinsky's music with its sense of ritual yet complex personal interactions of mother/daughter, groom/male friends, bride/groom, etc. Because Stravinsky scored this music for two pianos and lots of different percussion instruments, there seems to be a dark elemental quality which I think was also successfully captured in the Smuin choreography. It is certainly a piece I would to see again.

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