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 Post subject: San Francisco Ballet 2007 Don Quixote
PostPosted: Fri Apr 27, 2007 4:10 pm 
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Location: San Francisco
DON QUIXOTE Opening Night
4/28/2007,8 PM
Conductor: Martin West

Kitri: Vanessa Zahorian
Basilio: Davit Karapetyan*


DON QUIXOTE Matinee
4/29/2007,2 PM
Conductor: David LaMarche

Kitri: Molly Smolen^
Basilio: Tiit Helimets*


DON QUIXOTE Evening
5/1/2007,8 PM
Conductor: David LaMarche

Kitri: Tina LeBlanc
Basilio: Gonzalo Garcia


DON QUIXOTE Evening
5/2/2007,7:30 PM
Conductor: David LaMarche

Kitri: Molly Smolen
Basilio: Tiit Helimets


DON QUIXOTE Evening
5/3/2007,8 PM
Conductor: Martin West

Kitri: Vanessa Zahorian
Basilio: Davit Karapetyan


DON QUIXOTE Evening
5/4/2007,8 PM
Conductor: Martin West

Kitri: Kristin Long
Basilio: Gennadi Nedvigin


DON QUIXOTE Matinee
5/5/2007,2 PM
Conductor: David LaMarche

Kitri: Molly Smolen
Basilio: Tiit Helimets


DON QUIXOTE Evening
5/5/2007,8 PM
Conductor: David LaMarche

Kitri: Tina LeBlanc
Basilio: Gonzalo Garcia


DON QUIXOTE Matinee
5/6/2007,2 PM
Conductor: Martin West

Kitri: Vanessa Zahorian
Basilio: Davit Karapetyan

* Designates premiere in a role.
Casting subject to change.

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 28, 2007 8:59 pm 
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Interesting. An article on the SF Ballet web site discusses the large contingent of Spanish and Cuban dancers and their influence on the company. The article explicitly mentions Don Quixote. But with the exception of Gonzalo Garcia, the Spanish/Cuban dancers are conspicuously absent from the principal roles this year.


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 29, 2007 8:40 am 
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Location: San Francisco, CA
Moises Martin did dance Espada very well last night, and Dores Andre was very charming as one of Kitri's friends. As to the others, as they say, casting is subject to change due to injury or illness...


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 29, 2007 5:04 pm 
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Location: Where little cable cars climb halfway to the stars
”Don Quixote,” San Francisco Ballet, War Memorial Opera House, Opening Night, April 28, 2007

The forerunner of the 1869 Imperial Ballet Petipa production of “Don Quixote” was staged in 1740 by Franz Hilverding. One can only surmise that as feudalism sputtered to a fractious halt and deferred to the more advanced system of capitalism to assure the continuation of class society and its sacred reliquary of private property, succeeding productions of the ballet underwent a parallel transformation. It looks like a kind of dual power took hold, where the virtuosic was challenged by the comedic: The grandeur of the pyrotechnical feats revered the outgoing Divine Right and the besotted, slightly delusional windmill tilter and his entourage of one, the rural idiots it dragged in its wake—were lampooned alongside the “so last year” mannered aristocracy represented by the foppish Gamache.

San Francisco Ballet’s homage to that transition is a labor-intensive test of stamina that runs two hours and 35 minutes. The corps de ballet dresses up in an array of colorful costumes, brilliantly designed by Jens Jacob Worsaae and dance the choreography they’ve practiced their entire studio lives. For the soloists and principals, the challenges are more complex. This is a story ballet with no tragedy, but if its many sight gags fail, it can unwittingly become one.

I am happy to say that dramatically, and by that I also mean comically, San Francisco Ballet’s “Don Quixote” was anything but a tragedy. Lead dancers, Vanessa Zahorian as Kitri and Davit Karapetyan as Basilio were absolutely perfectly cast and did justice to their roles, never missing their comedic moments, and in the case of Karapetyan, taking any opportunity to add a little dash to the mix of gallantry, hi-jinx, sophistry and romance that can never flag no matter how many á la sécondes or double tours he turns into quadruples. Zahorian presented herself more unself-consciously and jubilantly than I have seen her do in any other role. Except for a few fatigued moments in the grand pas at the finish, her turns were clean and plentiful and she exhibited timing and musicality that gave the needed assist to her natural radiance and zest.

I never thought I’d see a Gamache able to inspire as much hilarity as that danced in 2003 by Benjamin Pierce, but Damian Smith doing changement with bent knees and dismounting his burro by sliding only halfway successfully down its flanks gave us some very funny moments, kind of like me attempting a full split at the end of barre. It’s impossible to know if it was intentional, but all the male peasants had bad haircuts, and so one can only guess that the hero Basilio, the Barber of Seville, was as incompetent at his trade as he was adroit at romance.

Espada was danced by Moisés Martín whose long lunges and now-expert veronicas tempered by Castillian restraint, give his partner, Muriel Maffre as Mercedes, the license to turn his head with her “Spanish back” and generous combrés that are almost menacingly seductive. Her costume, a lilac crinoline covered by a sheer black overskirt and a contoured top seamed with those two colors, contrasts starkly with Martín’s white toreador dress and red cape. Espada’s backup toreadors were to a man strong, imposing and powerful. No bull in his right mind would mess with them. A highlight of the performance was Pauli Magierek’s Gypsy Woman solo where she convinces me once again that her promotion is long overdue. She uses every muscle in her body and every inch of space allowable to oscillate between rapid czardas-like choreography to long, floor-lovin’ adagio work. Hello out there: She could be dancing Maffre roles next season!

The corps, which dances well, but doesn’t get to do much that fires the imagination, still makes a great showing in Act II, Scene Two, Don Quixote’s Dream. Dancing from their own personal strengths are Principals Yuan Yuan Tan as the Queen of the Druids, offering generous ballonés and extensive pas de chevaux. (That is the plural of pas de cheval, is it not?) and Elizabeth Miner as Cupid, darting daringly from a fragrant bouquet of bourrées, side to side and back and forth.

The long-awaited wedding scene is jubilant considering the hour, but as with most weddings, the bride and groom, though totally stand up in their commitment, seem like the most frazzled of the participants. The grand pas starts so suddenly (in all versions) after the Fandango that you wish some brave choreographer would take the bull by the horns and set some minimal preparation. Added to that built-in problem was the presence of a substitute harpist in the orchestra, who blew away the opening harp notes of Kitri’s fan solo. In spite of obvious fatigue, Zahorian pushed through her 32 fouettés, which she took very high as if her working leg hip was held slightly lifted. From the moment he stepped on the stage, Karapetyan received howls of approval from the audience and with an Antonio Castilla-like boyishness, seemed to give them everything he could in return. He and Zahorian are an incredibly well-matched couple. Perhaps their partnering at the Jackson competition helped develop their one hand one heart relationship, but they are in every aspect perfectly suited to one another, evident when she throws herself into his waiting arms—twice, or in the moments where she is variously coy and doting, or distraught when confronted by Basilio’s (mock) suicide.

Jump on your burro—you won’t have to fight for a parking space—and tilt your sword in the direction of Civic Center, where Armenia meets Iberia and the outcome is superia!


Last edited by Toba Singer on Mon Apr 30, 2007 1:50 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 29, 2007 9:56 pm 
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Sunday's matinee featured Molly Smolen and Tiit Helimets. They did not emphasize the comedy so much as youthful playfulness and romance through dance. Smolen managed her energy and strength well through to the foutees in the final pas de deux. She threw herself without abandon and was fully secure in Helimets partnering. He spun her more than expected with quicker tempo. His own turns made up for leaps that don't have the balloon of some others in the company. They weren't as fiery/Spanish as Feijoo/Boada, but their presentation was no less valid. And is there anyone else in the company who can hold the one arm lift as long as he does, without giving off the air of a circus in the process? The audience gave standing ovations--very unusual from this more sedate subscriber group.

THroughout, Smolen and Helimets matched their arm flicks perfectly to the end of musical phrases. Throughout they (and all the dancers) were ably assisted by guest conductor David LaMarche. I've commented how at past Sunday shows the music did not synchronize well with end phrases. LaMarche was superb in blending the dance with the orchestral cues. I hope he's used again.

Kirill Zaretsky was a bit overly stiff as Don Quixote, but I still recall Balanchine in the role, so who am I to compare? James Sofranko enacted his comic skill so well that one wished he had more opportunity to perform.

Damian Smith's Gamache was most effective through his small details, his sly underplaying (and upstaging), that remained in character through the curtain call. Katita Waldo displayed languid back stretches and precise footwork and Mercedes, while Ruben Martin shown throughout as the self-satisfied, magnificent Espada. The influence of his exposure to authentic Spanish dance was evident in details of his hands and posture.
The Toreadors were the strongest of the various ensemble numbers, with special praise due to Rory Hohenstein and Chidozie Nzerem.

Erin McNulty was a fearsome Gypsy Woman, gyrating on the edge one moment, oozing erotically the next, sparks of energy flashing up to the balcony. She dominated that scene completely, so much so that I can't recall details of Garrett Anderson's Gypsy Man. Apologies to him! During this scene, Smolen and Helimets maintained a subtext relationship when seated by the side observing the others.

During the dream sequence, Nicole Grand was brilliant as Cupid, and easily equaled the solos of Sarah Van Patten and Smolen. She was fleet-footed and impish, in contrast to Van Patten's cool, controlled Queen of the Druids. Smolen danced with a slight vagueness, as though to remind us that she was a dream figure. Consequently, each of the three women offered strongly defined character types and style their solos accordingly.

Throughout the various acts, Courtney Wright and Courtney Elizabeth, as Kitri's friends, sparkled. These roles are seemingly minor, yet provide key transition points. By attacking their various sections with energy and commitment, they kept the overall flow of this long ballet moving well.

So similar to many SFB performances, this one had the special surprises from corps members, in addition to the expected brilliance of the principals. Between acts, someone is always saying, "Why not promote X?" And every week there are other Xs. We are exceptionally fortunate to have so many multi-talented dancers. So why do we need the etoile system?


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 30, 2007 10:26 am 
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Location: San Francisco
Quote:
Romance comes into full bloom in S.F. Ballet's 'Don Quixote'
Rachel Howard, Chronicle Dance Correspondent
Monday, April 30, 2007


Committed San Francisco Ballet fans will want to know this first: Lorena Feijoo and Joan Boada aren't performing in the current run of "Don Quixote," which closes the 2007 season this week. Boada, our happiest Basilio, is out injured, and Feijoo, the company's iconic Kitri, has understandably opted not to learn the role with a different partner.

But discoveries are made through just such casting deprivations.

Saturday, in their absence, two things were clear: The Ballet's "Don Quixote," though far from perfect, is a lively and lighthearted spectacle, satisfying in its own right. And Vanessa Zahorian has the role of her career in it. She was dazzling as Kitri, and not just because she possesses the perfect technical arsenal: freeze-frame balances, pirouettes so joyful and secure that she can't help tossing doubles and even triples into the famous Act III fouettés.

Often polished but distant in other ballets, she was full-blooded here, sashaying through every step with sensuality in her shoulders and a vivacious energy in her smile. "Don Quixote's" Kitri, when not performing great physical feats, must be a wily teenager, walking in that loose-limbed adolescent way. Zahorian made the dance steps the natural expression of Kitri's nondancing confidence and mischievousness.


For more, go here.

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 30, 2007 11:38 am 
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Thanks, fluteboo, for your review. I was there for that performance, too, and thought you captured it very well. This is the performance where Molly S completely won me over (finally); I adored Nicole Grand as Cupid (a breakout role for her) and the two Courtneys (Elizabeth and Wright) as Kitri's friends. The Tomasson-Possokhov staging of Petipa means two and half hours of fast-paced brilliant dancing. Helgi and Yuri are a complementary team (Helgi's elegance and Yuri's vitality balancing each other). After reading Toba's review I want to go back and see Vanessa and the first cast. But the second cast was a winner.


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 30, 2007 12:12 pm 
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Nicole Grand was a dancer with our local company before moving on to SFB. I'm so happy to hear that she's doing well up there.

--Andre


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 30, 2007 12:38 pm 
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I always enjoy Toba Singer putting dance in its historical context!

I am scheduled for Saturday afternoon with Smolen and Helimets. I have not seen Smolen at all this year so it will be a discovery for me.

Interesting, Toba, your comment on Pauli Magierek as Gypsy Queen. I saw Don Quixote in 2003 and for various reasons unconnected with the dancers it was a disaster. But I still remember Magierek's Gypsy Queen. I recall how she managed to show the character and not just the dance; many of the dancers showed the dance but the "spark" was lacking.

I'll post some thoughts after Saturday if I have any worth sharing.


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 30, 2007 3:05 pm 
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fluteboo wrote:
So similar to many SFB performances, this one had the special surprises from corps members, in addition to the expected brilliance of the principals. Between acts, someone is always saying, "Why not promote X?" And every week there are other Xs. We are exceptionally fortunate to have so many multi-talented dancers. So why do we need the etoile system?


A few weeks ago in a "Meet the Artist Interview" the wonderfully articulate Katita Waldo (Christopher Wheeldon invited her, not surprisingly, to help him set a new ballet on the Bolshoi this winter--she seems like a born teacher) said, "as far as I'm concerned every member of the corps is a principal dancer."


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PostPosted: Tue May 01, 2007 10:32 am 
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Location: San Francisco
Quote:
S.F. Ballet closes with triumphant ‘Don Quixote’
May 1, 2007
by Janos Gereben, The Examiner


SAN FRANCISCO (Map, News) - Full disclosure; “Don Quixote” is not a great favorite of mine. There is good reason for its final “Kitri’s Wedding” act to be performed alone most of the time.

The full ballet is not all that “special” — Minkus’ music is schmaltz, and there are all of about five minutes about El Caballero de la Triste Figura (Knight of the Sorrowful Countenance) in it, nothing faintly reminiscent of the great (if seldom read) Cervantes novel or even the syrupy “Man of La Mancha.” The title character and his story are peripheral at best, and there is no other glue to hold the scenes together.

And yet, and yet: your man on the scene, the one with the full disclosure, had a wonderful time with all of “Don Quixote,” the whole nine yards, at the San Francisco Ballet’s Sunday matinee.


For more, go here.

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PostPosted: Sun May 06, 2007 12:48 am 
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Andre Yew wrote:
Nicole Grand was a dancer with our local company before moving on to SFB. I'm so happy to hear that she's doing well up there.


Rachel Howard interviewed Nicole in the September 2005 issue of Dance Magazine ("Nicole Grand: Your're On Your Own"). Even then, Nicole seemed remarkably poised and insightful. Her strategy is paying off.

"It would have been easy for 20-year-old Nicole Grand to get lost in San Francisco Ballet's large corps this past season. Grand; who came from a much smaller company, could have crumbled under the pressure, but she didn't. Instead she took the learning process into her own hands. . . ."

More:
http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m ... _n15674533


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PostPosted: Mon May 07, 2007 12:23 am 
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From Renee Renouf's review of opening night:

". . . . Zahorian was in the part from the first thrust of her jetes. She came across as a ballerina in Cynthia Harvey style: charm, facility, no nonsense, musical. . . ."

More:
http://www.ballet.co.uk/magazines/yr_07 ... b_0407.htm

Vanessa Zahorian gave the last performance of Don Q (and the final performance of SFB's 2007 season) this afternoon (May 6). I don't think I've ever seen her dance so winningly. She and Davit Karapetyan have a chemistry I've never seen Vanessa have with any other partner. I was surprised at how fresh she seemed today, since she was unexpectedly called upon to replace an injured Tina Leblanc late last night. Tina, partnered by Gonzalo Garcia, was injured in the first act, and an emergency call went out to Tiit Helimets and Molly Smolen who rushed to the Opera House to do the second act. Gonzalo so wanted to dance the wedding pas de deux for his final performance at SFB, he called Vanessa to come to the Opera House for the third act, which she did. On Sunday, the company displayed a joy in dancing that was a fitting end to an always too-short season.


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PostPosted: Mon May 07, 2007 12:36 pm 
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Woah, casting drama. What a treat though to see so many different dancers in the same performance.


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PostPosted: Wed May 30, 2007 4:58 pm 
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Speaking of drama, was anyone present for this:

Quote:
To: Guy Who Screamed Obscenities at the Ballet the Other Night:
Curtain comes up and the dancers begin to take their bows. You notice a few people standing up. Was it an ovation? NO! They were LEAVING! These people could not WAIT to get to their cars (they were obviously not MUNI riders, walkers or cab-hailers like most of us in the City)! They had no time for CLAPPING! They had to get out now!

It was then you yelled, in your beautiful gray-haired old crotchety man voice, "WILL YOU PEOPLE SIT DOWN AND LET THE *POLITE* PEOPLE SHOW THEIR APPRECIATION?!," slight pause, "YA A*******S!"
more


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