CriticalDance Forum

San Francisco Ballet - New Works Festival
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Author:  sf_herminator [ Mon Apr 21, 2008 11:32 pm ]
Post subject:  San Francisco Ballet - New Works Festival

The grand finale of the 75th Anniversary Season is upon us. Casting is up for this week's performances: ... p#43680546

I will be there for all three opening nights.

Author:  LMCtech [ Tue Apr 22, 2008 4:35 pm ]
Post subject: 

An article from the SF Chronicle. I really wanted to get to this, but with an infant and the hubby away at Zipfest in Italy, I don't think it's going to happen.

S.F. Ballet's New Works Festival
Rachel Howard

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Julia Adam

Julia Adam is a former San Francisco Ballet principal dancer. Her "Night," created for the company's "Discovery Program" in 2000, pushed her further into a choreography career noted for its whimsy and imagination. Her movement tends to be weighted yet dreamlike, often unballetic (turned-in legs, flexed feet) and quirky.

click to see profiles of all the choreographers

Author:  Saratoga [ Wed Apr 23, 2008 10:48 am ]
Post subject:  Opening Night

I was able to get to San Francisco for this week and scored tickets for two of the three opening nights. Last night was terrific. With a big deal like this Festival at the end of the season, I wondered if the company would be worn out or nervous, but they were definitely 'on.'

Yuri Possokov's opening piece was great (I've only seen his Firebird, but this was a lot better). I especially liked Vanessa Zahorian, even though Yuan Yuan Tan had the featured role. Vanessa was very crisp and precise. A joy to watch a craftsman at work.

Christopher Wheeldon's piece was also great. It seemed to have more bite than his other pieces I've seen. Not so neo-classical. It was in an 'arch' form with a duet as the keystone. Sarah Van Patten and Pierre-Francois Vilanoba adding the weight to the piece with Sarah adding the gravitas I used to see from Muriel Mafree, and superbly.

I think these two pieces will be picked up by other companies soon.

The closer was Paul Taylor's Changes. Ya gotta love Paul Taylor. The score was recorded Momma's & Poppa's 60's music and the cast was done up in tie dye and bell bottoms. Courtney Elizabeth was the energetic lead, but I think Pauli Magierek was the star. The ballet could have used more 'broadway' dancing, I think. Maybe too balletic? It was a fun, not very serious, romp that gave the audience something to hum on the way out. Seeing Paul Taylor on the stage during bows was also a treat.

Tomorrow has four new works. Couldn't get a reasonable seat, so I'm standing in the back. If it's like last night, it should be worth the sore feet.

Author:  sf_herminator [ Wed Apr 23, 2008 11:30 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Opening Night

I was there last night as well. It was fun to see the dancers not dancing that night all dressed up. I spotted Nicolas Blanc, James Sofranko, Garrett Anderson, and Davitt Karapetyan. During intermissions I saw Joanna Berman, Julia Adam, Christopher Stowell, Margaret Jenkins, and Val Caniparoli.

I loved Yuri's Fusion. What a way to open the festival. It was so different from his past pieces. The music was in a jazz vein with some Middle Eastern mixed in. The Corps Men in the Whirling Dervish-like outfits made it really visually stunning. The choreography in the second movement for Damian and Yuan Yuan was some of the best I've seen - some of the push-pull between the Corps Men and each other. Dare I say it's Yuri's best work yet. I found the music for the first movement online and I may just have to buy it.

I also enjoyed Wheeldon's Within the Golden Hour. I thought it was a nice mix of neo-classical and modern movements.

While I appreciated Paul Taylor's Changes, I think I need another look. I love The Mamas and the Papas, but maybe because the songs (for the most part) were unfamiliar to me I couldn't really grasp it. I can tell the woman next to me did not like it because she didn't even applaud. I will say that the dancers (all corps members. Soloist Mateo Klemmayer was supposed to dance but a casting change was posted at the entrance. He was replaced by Daniel Devison. I have to agree with Saratoga on this:
Saratoga wrote:
The closer was Paul Taylor's Changes.... Courtney Elizabeth was the energetic lead, but I think Pauli Magierek was the star.
I forgot the song but she was dancing with (IIRC) Luke Willis, Anthony Spaulding, Aaron Orza, and Diego Cruz.
Pauli is also dancing the lead in Margaret Jenkins piece and is also dancing in another new work I can't remember. With her strong work this season could she be promoted to Soloist??? (Gosh, I hope I didn't just jinx her....)

Anyhow, I'll be there tonight. I'm excited about all the pieces, but am most looking forward to Mark Morris's Joyride and really curious about Julia Adam's take on Sleeping Beauty to Goldberg Variations (A rose by any other name). Then there's Yuan Yuan in heels for James Kudelka's piece with the most intriguing title (The Ruins Proclaim the Building was Beautiful). Stanton Welch has the simply provactively titled Naked.

Author:  crandc [ Wed Apr 23, 2008 12:37 pm ]
Post subject: 

I am going Saturday and Sunday afternoon to Program B and A (in that order) and to Program C later on. I am so looking forward to this! Some people have complained that SF Ballet has no real identity, they do a little of everything, but IMHO that IS their identity, and this festival looks like the perfect vehicle for showcasing the diversity of the company.

I have also noticed Magierek being featured a lot this year, along with Jennifer Stahl and Anthony Spaulding. We shall see.

Speaking of which, is the company suffering another spring round of injuries? Viewing casting, I see a lot of "missing" names (Tina LeBlanc, Darvit Karpetian, Nutnaree Pipit-Suksun, for example) and can't imagine 10 choreographers could all decide to NOT cast them if they were healthy.

Author:  sf_herminator [ Wed Apr 23, 2008 1:53 pm ]
Post subject: 

crandc wrote:
Speaking of which, is the company suffering another spring round of injuries? Viewing casting, I see a lot of "missing" names (Tina LeBlanc, Darvit Karpetian, Nutnaree Pipit-Suksun, for example) and can't imagine 10 choreographers could all decide to NOT cast them if they were healthy.

I know Davit got injured during the run of Programs 4 & 5. Joan Boada had to learn his part in the Paganini piece to partner Maria Kochetkova (as mentioned on her site Both Tina and Nutnaree had surgery last year but returned early in the season (Tina in 7 For Eight and Drink to Me, Nutnaree in the Gala and Firebird) - perhaps they got injured again? Julianne Kepley was originally announced for 3 works (Welch, Adam, and Caniparoli) but has now been replaced, so perhaps she got injured in the last week?

Author:  Globetrotter [ Thu Apr 24, 2008 10:19 am ]
Post subject:  More on New Works Festival

I wasn't the only one who forgot last night's program started at 7:30, not 8:00. But since I was standing in the back, it didn't make much of a difference. Let's just say I had a lot of standing room company for the Stanton Welch piece...

The evening started off with some excellent dancing from Ruben Martin. I've seem him do lyrical solos, and lots of solid partnering, but this is the first time I've seen his technical side on display. Wow! Maybe I was overly influenced by the strength of the dancing, but I liked the Stanton Welch piece a lot - the Julia Adams piece not so much. Lots of walking, lots of mime, lots of props, lots of story and maybe not enough moving for my taste. As Balanchine said, if you don't like the ballet, close your eyes and listen to the music. The orchestra and the Bach was great.

James Kudelka's piece needs more than one viewing. It's long and slow and the music seemed to consist of one emotional cadence/key change after another. I got the sense that there is a lot there to think about, and that I missed most of it. I'm willing to give it another look when I have more energy.

Joyride - Mark Morris' new work - was not what I expected. It was more technical and less 'dancey' than I've seen from him in the past. I wonder if this is the start of something new for him? The gold and silver costumes with ticking numbers suggested dancing robots as did the angular movements. There was some great partner dancing in the second movement. I've never seen Sarah Van Patten dance with Gennadi Nedvigin before but it worked. There was also some great dancing from Jennifer Stahl - I don't remember seeing her in a featured role before, but I'd like to again. John Adams conducted his new score, which I thought was great.

So after day two, it seems to me that the star of the festival isn't the new choreography, it's the San Francisco Ballet. The ability of the organization to secure, fund, stage, rehearse, and perform a festival like this is impressive. I'm sure it tested every department and person in the organization and so far, they've all delivered.

Author:  RaHir [ Thu Apr 24, 2008 10:34 am ]
Post subject: 

Possokhov, Wheeldon, Taylor works
Rachel Howard, Chronicle Dance Correspondent
Thursday, April 24, 2008

It's tempting to treat San Francisco Ballet's gargantuan New Works Festival as a sporting event: 10 choreographers unveiling 10 world premieres over three days. Who will win? Who will lose?

But Tuesday the real winner was clear, and it was the Ballet audience. Throughout the War Memorial Opera House, veteran critics and newbie fans alike fervently debated which ballets they'd loved, and why. Artistic Director Helgi Tomasson's daring onslaught of fresh work invites a heightened, even heated dialogue - and this, more than the sheer number of premieres, is what the ballet world needs now.

Between the two busily inventive ballets by Yuri Possokhov and Christopher Wheeldon, it seemed, viewers tilted toward one or the other. With Paul Taylor's "Changes," set to blaring music by the Mamas and the Papas, I'm guessing people either loved it or hated it.


Author:  RaHir [ Thu Apr 24, 2008 11:49 am ]
Post subject: 

S.F. Ballet's New Works Festival doesn't take chances
By Ann Murphy
Contra Costa Times Correspondent
Article Launched: 04/24/2008 12:14:11 AM PDT

It may be the end of the 2008 San Francisco Ballet 75th anniversary season, but it felt Tuesday night that the year's festivities have just begun.

This night marked the gala opening of the much-anticipated New Works Festival, with the launch of the first three of 10 newly commissioned works by as many choreographers, and as disparate as local modern dance luminary Margaret Jenkins and little-known Finnish choreographer Jorma Elo.

A house overflowing with dancers' families, artists, press from the far coast as well as Europe, and a suffusing warmth underscored both the intimacy and intensity of artistic director Helgi Tomasson's undertaking.

Such an undertaking seems like it would be a snap for a large ballet company with great dancers and enormous resources at its disposal. But it is no easy trick.

Bombing at the box office is not in any ballet's financial cards and this means that artists' daring has to be tempered by success — people have to like the work enough to fill the seats in order to ensure the continuation of the company.

It is these implicit terms that can tamp down innovation. That was clear Tuesday — a night of exquisite dancing and pleasant beautifully dancey dances. Real dance daring was going on somewhere south of Market Street, not in the Opera House. One hopes that the next two programs shift the paradigm just a little.


Author:  RaHir [ Thu Apr 24, 2008 11:52 am ]
Post subject: 

Step Right Up! 10 Premieres in 3 Days
The New York Times
April 20, 2008

AS a star of the New York City Ballet, Helgi Tomasson danced in that company’s landmark 1972 Stravinsky Festival, which unveiled more than 20 ballets and a bonanza of masterpieces. He looked to his memories of that festival’s energy as he searched for a way to crown the 75th anniversary of the troupe he now leads: the San Francisco Ballet, America’s oldest professional company.

The resulting New Works Festival, opening here on Tuesday, will present 10 world premieres by 10 wildly different choreographers, from the modern-dance master Mark Morris to classical ballet’s great hope, Christopher Wheeldon. It will do that over just three nights — a flash flood of what’s happening in ballet now.

“People say now that there’s a creative void,” Mr. Tomasson said of the general perception of ballet since the deaths of giants like George Balanchine, Jerome Robbins and Frederick Ashton. “But these creative forces take time to recognize.”

More... (registration may be required)

Author:  RaHir [ Thu Apr 24, 2008 11:55 am ]
Post subject: 

What Audiences Haven’t Seen Before
The New York Times
Published: April 24, 2008

SAN FRANCISCO — Novelty as cause for celebration! In ballet, an art so often stuffed with the same old chestnuts, it takes real courage to promote creativity rather than conservation. Diaghilev remains the exemplar here, but in this regard the United States has led the world for several decades. The concept of presenting a multiple-program bonanza of new choreography goes back to the 1972 Stravinsky Festival of New York City Ballet. That event included old works too, but its wealth of innovation became the stuff of legend. At least four of the new works choreographed then have gone into international ballet repertory.

One of that festival’s dancers was Peter Martins, who now runs City Ballet. In 1988 he staged its American Music Festival along the same lines, and then, starting in 1992, he began a series of occasional, somewhat festival-like spring Diamond Projects, each of which has produced multiple new works within weeks. Another of those 1972 dancers was Helgi Tomasson. Since 1985 he has run San Francisco Ballet, which is now reaching the climax of its 75th-anniversary season by presenting a New Works Festival that bids to rival City Ballet in the new-choreography stakes.

Ten world premieres by 10 choreographers are occurring over three nights; some of the scores are commissioned, and these programs will continue for just over two weeks. Since the choreographers include Paul Taylor, Mark Morris, Christopher Wheeldon, James Kudelka, Jorma Elo, Stanton Welch and Yuri Possokhov, the season is automatically of national and international significance.

The festival began on Tuesday with a gala-type account of Program A (most of the audience was in evening dress): a triple bill of Mr. Possokhov’s “Fusion,” Mr. Wheeldon’s “Within the Golden Hour” and Mr. Taylor’s “Changes.” “Fusion” and “Within the Golden Hour” feature handsome décors and costumes and are set to attractively interesting music; both show their creators extending their ranges and adding to their craft.

More... (registration may be required)

Author:  RaHir [ Fri Apr 25, 2008 3:02 pm ]
Post subject: 

Mark Morris' sexy 'Joyride'
Rachel Howard, Chronicle Dance Correspondent
Friday, April 25, 2008

One of the great opportunities of San Francisco Ballet's New Works Festival is the chance to consider - or reconsider - your personal ballet aesthetic. What qualities do you value in new ballets? What speaks to you and why? And if you appreciate a ballet that offers dazzlingly sophisticated musicality, that takes classical attention to form and channels it into a modern ethos - if you cherish a ballet sure to show you something new every time you see it - then you could hardly do better than Mark Morris' "Joyride."

With its commissioned score by John Adams, "Joyride" was the PR coup of the Ballet's 75th anniversary season, and Wednesday, with Adams himself conducting, it lived up to the buzz. But it also capped a second-night slate that fulfilled the festival's larger potential: revealing the many faces of ballet today. No one who sees Program B's premieres by Stanton Welch, Julia Adam and James Kudelka could fail to marvel that ballet speaks in so many tongues.

If Morris' is the work that looks built for the ages, score one for complexity. With its shifting beat and crazy layers of rhythm, Adams' music must be a devil to count, and Isaac Mizrahi's sleek costumes make a joke of this, adorning metallic bodysuits with LED screens that continually flash random numbers. But cleverness is far from Morris' only game. There's a cool sex appeal in how these eight dancers efficiently shoot through and regroup. And there's a panoply of feeling in Morris' motifs, from a kung fu kick to a sweeping backward reach that turns into neck-clutching chaine turns.


Author:  RaHir [ Sat Apr 26, 2008 10:37 am ]
Post subject: 

'Double Evil' doubles thrills
Rachel Howard, Chronicle Dance Correspondent
Saturday, April 26, 2008

Jorma Elo, where have you been all our lives?

The Finnish choreographer's "Double Evil" proved the unqualified hit of San Francisco Ballet's New Works Festival on Thursday, crowning Program C's final slate of world premieres with a ballet so effortlessly innovative, fresh and blood-pumping that it seemed, excepting Mark Morris' "Joyride," to occupy a different plane than all before. "Double Evil" is a thrill on its own, but a festival of 10 new ballets invites comparisons, and to my eye the most fruitful was with Stanton Welch's "Naked" from the evening before. Though different on the surface, on a deeper level they play the same game: using classical steps as a base for startlingly modern departures. So why, in the Welch, does the exercise seem stilted, studied, merely academic, while in the Elo the results are visceral and vital?

True, Elo has the benefit of in-your-face music: two movements from Philip Glass' pounding, primal "Concerto Fantasy for Two Timpanists and Orchestra," alternating with Vladimir Martinov's achingly beautiful "Come In!" (Roy Malan excellent on solo violin). And true, the Bay Area has not experienced a large body of Elo work upon which to hypothesize: Aside from "Double Evil," his first San Francisco Ballet commission, we've seen only his "C. to C. (Close to Chuck)," which American Ballet Theatre brought here last year.

But the confident style of "Double Evil" made clear why Elo, now resident choreographer at Boston Ballet, has zoomed to ballet's fore in the past five years. It's a question of attitude. To Elo, just as to Balanchine and William Forsythe, it seems that classical ballet is not some fusty, precious tradition to be violated by bringing it up to the present day. It's not - as in the Welch - an anachronism: no preening jewelry-box ballerinas here, despite Holly Hynes' wonderfully provocative Petipa-style tutus.


Author:  RaHir [ Sat Apr 26, 2008 1:18 pm ]
Post subject: 

Four New Works, With Three From a Different Species
The New York Times
Published: April 25, 2008

In Program B of San Francisco Ballet’s New Works Festival, the first three works were different species of ghastly, so it wasn’t too hard for the fourth, Mark Morris’s “Joyride,” to prove the evening’s best piece. Yet it’s not difficult to find fault with “Joyride.” Its choreography has awkward transitions, the more exposed because the music it accompanies , John Adams’s “Son of Chamber Symphony,” seems to have no transitions whatsoever. And the dances have tepid, static or dead patches that suggest briefly that Mr. Morris lost his nerve.

Wednesday evening’s first three works — “Naked” by Stanton Welch, “A rose by any other name” by Julia Adam and “The Ruins Proclaim the Building Was Beautiful” by James Kudelka — were, by contrast, all efficiently ghastly, showing no hint of diffidence, and all three seemed to have their vociferous admirers. Nevertheless “Joyride” had no sooner begun than it showed how Mr. Morris is a dance maker in a wholly different league.

The heart leapt just to observe the contrast between its first two recurring movements: a plucked, deliberate walking step, then a boldly vaulting jump. The diversity of this opening alone makes us feel that Mr. Morris is saying, “Look, people can be closed and open, allegro and penseroso, controlled and audacious.” And this precision and contrast were already the best dance news of the evening. Mr. Adams was conducting his own score, which was commissioned for this festival but had its premiere in concert last year, and many of Mr. Morris’s movements and structures seemed attuned to the music’s sound world (often percussive), its recyclings and its irregularity.


Author:  RaHir [ Sat Apr 26, 2008 1:19 pm ]
Post subject: 

Complicated Heroines, Puzzling Partnering
The New York Times
Published: April 26, 2008

SAN FRANCISCO — By what criteria do we judge new works of art? Of the three seen in Program C of San Francisco Ballet’s New Works Festival on Thursday night, two — Margaret Jenkins’s “Thread” and Val Caniparoli’s “Ibsen’s House” — gave hostages to fortune by announcing what they had in mind. And so, if you knew a thing or two about their subject matter, it was easier to explain their shortcomings than their strengths. Since, by contrast, Jorma Elo’s “Double Evil” left any specific intention unsaid, it seemed to succeed the most readily on its own terms. Yet I like it the least. Why? I object to those terms.

Mr. Elo, resident choreographer at Boston Ballet, has also made dances for New York City Ballet and American Ballet Theater. “Double Evil” is the third world premiere of his that I’ve seen in the last six months, each in a different city. Still, his vocabulary is extraordinarily limited (staggeringly so when it comes to point work or lower-body detail) and his range of ideas no less.

He likes to spend the first half or two-thirds of a work showing his mixed feelings about the traditions of ballet, and he makes a laborious shtick out of treating ballerinas in an anti-ballerina way. “Double Evil” has (as did “In on Blue,” his last piece for Boston Ballet) women in tutus who spend much of the time on flat foot, legs turned in, bending their upper bodies and looking at sea. It opens with a duet in which the male dancer, without courtesy or formality, gets down on the floor and then propels the woman around by kicking up at one of her legs.


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