CriticalDance Forum

San Francisco Ballet Mixed Rep Program II 2/3/2000
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Author:  Azlan [ Sun Feb 06, 2000 3:43 pm ]
Post subject:  San Francisco Ballet Mixed Rep Program II 2/3/2000

SAN FRANCISCO BALLET MIXED REP PROGRAM II 2/3/2000<P>What a moving performance put on by Joanna Berman tonight, in a poignant and subtle pdd opposite Stephen Legate in David Bintley's "The Dance House." According to Ballet Mistress Anita Paciotti, Bintley exclaimed, when setting this ballet on SFB, "Can Joanna do no wrong?" He was obviously impressed by her talents. And so was the audience, as they gave her the loudest applause of the night.<P>As with the rest of the ballet, the relationship the pair has towards the central, "ghost-clown" character, danced with delightful exuberance by Yuri Possokhov, is not clearly defined. However, the strongly graceful movements of the pair, especially Berman, clearly suggest that they -- and the relationship between themselves -- are affected by the loss of a close and inspiring friend. It is a sadly all too familiar story of a great talent who is loss to us because of AIDS.<P>While Bintley created this ballet in memory of his friend and colleague Nick Millington and although the ballet is about AIDS, it is, in my interpretation, far from being a ballet about dying. Set to Shostakovich's "Concerto for Piano, Trumpet and Strings," it is a modern classic that focuses on the memories of a gifted individual who touched all those around him, as evidenced by the joyful dancing of the corps, led by a sprightly Tina LeBlanc, in mimicking his steps and making them their own. There is also a certain slinkiness in the movements of the soloists, with the most memorable sequence being one in which, with arms bent over their shoulders like wings, the dancers rotate their elbows back as they dance backwards en pointe.<P>As in "The Dance House," a spirit is also the central character in "Taiko," a 1999 work by Australian heartthrob Stanton Welch. Muriel Maffre reprises the role of the spirit which, in this ballet, is named Belief. Her patient and graceful movements suggest spiritual peace; there is even a sequence where she mimics rituals from various religions. Around Maffre is an ensemble group of dancers in black translucent silky pajama-like costumes over skintone unitards. In movements inspired equally by the martial arts of taiko and everyday activities like walking and reading, the dancers move in rhythm -- a la disco rather than ballet -- to recorded taiko drumming by Australian musicians Michael Askill, Ian Cleworth, Rebecca Lagos and Colin Piper. Indeed, the set is suggestive of a discotheque with moody lighting and abstract artwork on transparent panels.<P>I have to admit I am confused about my appreciation of "Taiko" ever since its premiere last season. On the one hand, I was disappointed the work borrowed so much from disco and the traditional art form of taiko. On the other, I am excited by its ability to entertain the occasional dance fan and astounded by the ability of the dancers to keep on beat to nothing but the sounds of drumming.<P>Curiously, I am also confused about my feelings for Anthony Tudor's "Gala Performance." With repeated viewings, I find myself enjoying this work less and less even though I remember being hysterically beside myself the first time I saw it. When the ballet pokes fun at primaballerinas by exaggerating the worst characteristics of ballerinas from three countries, I personally find the joke truly humorous only once. The audience must have shared my feelings as the laughter and applause was much more tepid than at last season's performance of this work. Still, I found newcomer Lorena Feijoo's portrayal of a heavy-footed Russian ballerina endearing. Elegant Muriel Maffre was of course perfect as the haughty Italian ballerina, as was effervescent Kristin Long as the bubbly French ballerina.<P>Leaving the theater at the end of the program, soothing images from the powerfully melancholic "The Dance House" was the strongest in my mind. I sincerely hope San Francisco Ballet encores it next season, for more people should see this incredibly moving work.<p>[This message has been edited by Azlan (edited 02-06-2000).]

Author:  Azlan [ Sun Feb 06, 2000 4:08 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: San Francisco Ballet Mixed Rep Program II 2/3/2000

Here are some reviews by the SF media:<P>SF Chronicle's Octavio Roca, 2/5/2000 <A HREF="" TARGET=_blank></A> <P>SF Examiner's Allan Ulrich, 2/4/2000 <A HREF="" TARGET=_blank></A> <P><BR>PS - Stuart, I thought you might like to know that I came within earshot of newly promoted Soloist Vanessa Zahorian. Only later did I remember your request for her telephone number, to discuss technique. Perhaps next time. Image

Author:  Daedalus [ Mon Feb 07, 2000 7:58 am ]
Post subject:  Re: San Francisco Ballet Mixed Rep Program II 2/3/2000

Azlan, I shared some of your disappointment with "Taiko". In addition to the things that you mention, I thought that the stage patterned with light and shadow, the black and white patterned costumes and the generally low lighting made it sometimes difficult to see the dancers.<P>------------------<BR>

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