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 Post subject: San Francisco Ballet Program 2: Apollo, Blue Rose,Quaternary
PostPosted: Thu Feb 09, 2006 12:23 pm 
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Casting is now out for Program 2's opening night!

I asked why Yuri Possokhov was not dancing the duet with Muriel in Quaternary, and learned that he's just back from Russia and will be performing other nights during the run, just not the first one.
Quote:
APOLLO
Conductor: Martin West

Gonzalo Garcia
Yuan Yuan Tan, Sarah Van Patten, Vanessa Zahorian

-INTERMISSION-

BLUE ROSE
Conductor: Martin West
Piano: Natal'ya Feygina
Violin: Roy Malan

Tina LeBlanc*, Pascal Molat*
Lorena Feijoo*, Pierre-François Vilanoba*
Vanessa Zahorian*, Nicolas Blanc*

-INTERMISSION-

QUATERNARY
Conductor: Martin West
Piano: Michael McGraw
Cello: David Kadarauch
Guitar: Steven Mackey

Winter: Yuan Yuan Tan, Damian Smith
Spring: Tina LeBlanc, Nicolas Blanc, Lorena Feijoo, Joan Boada
Summer: Muriel Maffre, Tiit Helimets*
Autumn: Katita Waldo, Pierre-François Vilanoba



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 Post subject: Yuri Possokhov
PostPosted: Thu Feb 09, 2006 12:56 pm 
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Location: SF Bayarea
Hello!
Mr. Possokhov was in Moscow for his new work “Cinderella” for Bolshoi which was premiered on 2/2, 2/3, 2/4 and 2/5. My friend who lives in town saw that premiere and told me it was quite “modern” especially the stage setting and design. The opening cast was Zakharova (Cinderella) and Filin (The prince). So now he is back. Looking forward to seeing him on stage again! :D


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 09, 2006 10:58 pm 
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Thanks Kaoru. For those who are interested, here's a link to an early report on Cinderella in
The Moscow Times.


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 10, 2006 1:54 pm 
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There's been a casting change and as it turns out, Yuri will dance Quaternary with Muriel on the opening evening.


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 16, 2006 1:36 pm 
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Location: El Granada, CA, USA
Review in the SF Chronilcle.

Quote:
Breathless discovery of love and dance permeates 'Blue Rose' world premiere

Janice Berman, Special to The Chronicle

Thursday, February 16, 2006

San Francisco Ballet's second program of the season -- George Balanchine's "Apollo," Helgi Tomasson's "Blue Rose" and Christopher Wheeldon's "Quaternary," which opened Tuesday night -- showed that brilliance comes in many forms. It also beautifully showed off artists who can handle whatever form arises.

Ballet Artistic Director Tomasson's "Blue Rose," a world premiere, is a lighthearted but intensely crafty Valentine made up of an international patchwork of alluring rags, tango and waltz for three couples.


more...

And the Oakland Tribune.

Quote:
'Apollo' overshadows two S.F. Ballet premieres
By Stephanie von Buchau, CONTRIBUTOR

A BALLET company that performs "Apollo" as well as San Francisco Ballet does might think twice about opening a program with George Balanchine's 1928 masterpiece. Anything that follows is bound to look a little thin, undernourished and callow.

Helgi Tomasson took the risk Tuesday night with SFB's subscription program No. 2 at the War Memorial Opera House. It's not that the other pieces aren't worthy, serious, even entertaining, but they were obliterated by Balanchine's high-minded, physically ravishing, tender meditation on the Greek myth — and its fabulous Stravinsky score.


more...


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 20, 2006 10:15 am 
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San Francisco Ballet Program 2, War Memorial Opera House, February 17, 2006

There is a famous reference to “blue roses” in Tennessee Williams play, “The Glass Menagerie”:

LAURA. When I had that attack of pleurosis – he asked me what was the matter when I came back. I said pleurosis – he thought that I said Blue Roses! So that’s what he always called me after that. Whenever he saw me he’d holler, “Hello Blue Roses!”

Even though the title of the second piece on the program “Blue Rose,” places the flower in the singular, I insisted on thinking of it in terms of Laura’s little speech. In my mind’s eye, it was going to be an innovative piece, derivative of the play. It was derivative, but not of “The Glass Menagerie.” It was more a creature of forties’ style ballroom dancing, which can make for great entertainment when performed by ballet dancers, and buffed up to a high gloss by ballet technique. “Blue Rose” is essentially a not glamorous, and far less urbane “Black Cake.” Three male/female couples and one male couple dance to music by the Uzbek-Australian composer, Elena Kats-Cherin. In the program notes, SFB Artistic Director Helgi Tomasson mentions that he had a rare month at home, during which time he was able to listen to a shopping bag full of CDS. It was Kats-Chernin’s music that caught his fancy and inspired this piece.

Natasha Feygina (Piano) and Roy Malan (Violin) accompany the dancers in front of a backdrop of large swirling bamboo-like tubes. In the first set, with the full cast dancing to “Get Well Rag,” the dancing seemed tepid because it mostly went under the music. Tina Leblanc was paired with Pascal Molat to “Backstage,” and initially, it was exciting to watch them discover each other in the context of this stylized choreography. The problem is that they are too similar. It would seem that their shared virtuosity would make for a good partnership, but the absence of contrast and complementary strengths, made it like watching one dancer instead of two. It’s one thing to be able to tell the dancer from the dance, and quite another to distinguish between the dancer and the dancer.

Lorena Feijoo, costumed in a red, white and blue print ballroom-style frock, was very much the fuse-burning firecracker of the group. She held her head almost menacingly still as the rest of her body yielded, ribbon like, to the prompting of her partner, Pierre-François Villanoba. Vanessa Zahorian gave the most engaging performance of the three boy-girl couples, and that was in no small part attributable to the filigree of choreography she performed with her partner, Nicolas Blanc. It was intricate and playful and had an ecossaise quality to it, and its switchback steps were fun to watch. The duets were interspersed with solos and Leblanc’s solo featured riveting, lightning-speed piqué turns en manege. Pascal gave a clean, light, well-placed and yet storied solo. The “Brothers” duet by Blanc and Villanoba while well-danced, was suffused with silly sentimentalism, and the high five sautés would have been better left in their “Quattro Stagioni” mothballs. As time went on, one of the couples choked on a lift, and then the choreography just degenerated into a formula of step, step, turn; step, step, lift; step, step, jump, until it reached gemütlichland. I expected the ushers to show up on the aisles at any second, bearing glasses of warm milk and Ovaltine.

By contrast, Christopher Wheeldon’s “Quarternary,” chooses a score consisting of music by Johann Sebastian Bach, John Cage, Arvo Pärt and Steven Mackey, and marries investigation with gymnastics and exploration, packages it in segments corresponding to the four seasons, and has it all come out looking pretty appetizing. It is layered in steel drum music that pops or clicks, there are circle games to a contrapuntal rhythm that break out into contrasting sweeps of the stage, and athletic adages that go so far as to tear a few holes in the fabric of the ensemble. Even though the costumes are color coded to denote the seasons, it is hard for me to get with the change in temperature. As someone whose life could be best described as a series of unreasonable deadlines, I sometimes wonder whether choreographers who choose the four seasons as a theme do so to gain more calendar time. “Let’s see, I’ll do this much from December 21 to March 22 (when it drizzles) and then stage something in Amsterdam. Then I’ll do this much from June 22 to…(when it sizzles)” In any case, imagine watching the work of Muriel Maffre as she lays down a rib at a time on the stage floor, and Yuri Possokhov’s partnering, placing her like a rag doll while she maintains total command of each muscle, then executes a promenade as she holds her working leg at 180! Katita Waldo is a study in suppleness, her arms moving as though she has just discovered for the very first time what they are capable of saying to an audience. Maffre and Waldo, ranged against the men in black whose undulations punctuate the wild shrieking music, are exactly the right dancers to place Wheeldon’s work in its best light.

George Balanchine’s “Apollo,” set to the music of Igor Stravinsky and staged for this evening’s program by the Balanchine Trust’s Jacques D’Amboise, glistens with the polish and authenticity of its immaculate conception in 1928. Watching it is like visiting ruins: You feel privileged to be in the presence of the bleached bones of something very old and sacred, though so spare that a shiver runs through it. You can stare, transfixed, see very little, and fight off sleep, as with James Kudelka’s version. Or, in the case of this evening’s “Apollo,” you can stare transfixed and feel the resonance of nearly 80 years of dance history—timeless in these moments— between the ribs of the work. It starts correctly with the Mother, Leto (Pauli Majierek), giving birth on high to her son, Apollo. She stretches as if awakening, loosens her hair, and rolls her head around and around. Before we know it, Apollo (Gonzalo Garcia) appears before us in swaddling clothes, and is unburdened of them and his infancy, by Handmaidens Joanna Mednick and Brooke Moore. His life begins with a startling volley of pirouettes, and then the muses walk into it.

To understand his apparent need to teach these ladies a thing or two, it is important to know that the rise of Greece and Rome represents the triumph of the patriarchy over a polyglot of social relations through which a matrilineal thread has previously run. Once the clans and gens stopped digging, hunting and bartering, they ceased to be nomadic, settling into trade and agriculture, as Barbarism gave rise to the City State. Primitive accumulation finally develops into something called “private property.” The property owners die and leave inheritances to their children, and now it is necessary for the Familus (the male owner of a collection of slaves, which include his women and children) to be able to identify his heirs, and so women must now become the property of men, and subordinate to them. It is no coincidence that around this time certain barnyard terms became taboo as “swear” or “curse” words.

So, even though Vanessa Zahorian’s Polyhymnia presents herself with a very deliberate walk, her glory days are numbered, and Apollo has been born so that she may lose. She is joined by her sister muses, Calliope (Sarah Van Patten) and Terpsichore (Yuan Yuan Tan), and with Garcia, they beckon the dawn of civilization with raised and rounded arms. In the spirit of professionalism with which many of us have coached those who will soon replace us, the muses show Apollo how to hold his instrument properly. Apollo is a godling whose future on Olympus is assured. Gonzalo Garcia’s career has run a course not dissimilar to the story line, and he slips into the role is as if it were a second pair of M. Stevens. It isn’t long before the muses are making every Balanchine-exaggerated effort to put their best feet forward for Apollo, spilling into their arabesques as he yanks each of them into their new off-balance lives. As the guardian of rectitude (with property and inheritance, comes the inevitable Law), Apollo chastens the hasty poet-scribbler, Calliope, and then the unbridled mime, Polyhymnia, who just can’t seem to get a grip on herself. He saves his praise for the gestural Terpsichore, whose deftness and tinkling bourrées place her in a league of her own, which is what polygamy giving way to monogamy is all about—discovering that you are history’s very first Desperate Housewife. Lonely, but Stately, with a capital S.

Entrusted with the Lyre,
Terpsichore thenceforth becomes
The Keeper of the Fire

The muses give us their very best work. Sarah Van Patten sparkles, Vanessa Zahorian is a sprightly gabber, and Yuan Yuan Tan’s long-limbed pas de bourée en tournant and precise placement of her jutting hips, offer a glossary of modernist flourishes that fully captures the Balanchine oeuvre in its musical design. Garcia matches her with lyric lunges, squared off side-to-side jumps, and falls to the knee that end in classical poses. Their pas de deux, with her extreme extensions, birch-branch arms, and slow over-the-shoulder lifts, is Balanchine at its best—better than any of the centenary pieces shown two seasons ago. She renversés in a snap. They cambré back into profile, and as she builds to the rapid échappés, it is easy to see the masterful hand of D’Amboise at work. As they ascend the ladder that leads to Mount Olympus, with the now-hegemonous god at the summit and the outstretched hands of the muses linked to his destiny, a light shines on Apollo and the curtain falls.


Last edited by Toba Singer on Sun Feb 26, 2006 11:06 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 20, 2006 6:20 pm 
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Balanchine famously said that "ballet is woman", but in Apollo, ballet is man. Toba Singer put the myth in context and I have little to add except that not only did Greco-Roman represent the triumph of patriarchy, Apollo explicitly was the symbol of patriarchy (in the play Orestes, it is Apollo who grants absolution to the man who kills his mother - the ultimate matriarchal crime - to avenge his father).
So this Apollo must not only represent the god's learning his trade but also the arrogance of the young master. In a last minute casting change, Tiit Helmits, scheduled to appear on Sunday, was replaced by Pierre-Francois Vilanoba who was perfect in the role, almost stereotypically tall, dark, muscular and handsome. His dancing was a terrific display of the power of the male dance, which is often secondary in ballet but here was primary.
The 3 muses, Katita Waldo, Yuan Yuan Tan and Loreno Feijoo, all used to being the "prima", had to be the "segundas" here and did beautifully. Their synchronization was totally perfect and each showed her own character, who she was, what she lost, as all the women lined up at the end to worship an arrogantly triumphant Apollo. A true masterpiece danced perfectly.

The rest of the program did not measure up. I am glad to see that I am not the only one unimpressed by Blue Rose! The dancing was certainly well done, but the choreography, with few exceptions, was predictable and the music may have been inspirational to Tomasson but I found it soporific; I kept wanting to find a warm place to curl up in and take a nap! I was interested in getting my first look at new Principal Claire Pascal; a very supple dancer, I hope to see her again in a more dynamic role.

Quaternary must have created a buzz as quite a few people showed up only for that portion of the program. I found Winter (Yuan Yuan Tan & Damian Smith) puzzling; neither the music nor the dance seemed evocative of winter. It was too fast for the idea of winter as a time of the earth sleeping, and was too light to suggest winter storms. Spring (Kristin Long, Jaime Garcia Castilla, Elizabeth Miner & Hansuke Yamamato) was somewhat better, with a lightness associated with spring. But Summer made the ballet. It truly did evoke one of those ghastly hot days when you just don't want to move. Muriel Maffre, with her endless extensions, looked like she was melting onto the stage. (God, will she be missed!) A side note, in all the publicity photos Yuri Possokhov was shirtless but he wore a shirt during this performance; maybe he got too sunburned? :) Autumn was a bit of an anticlimax, simply because Maffre is an impossible act to follow. And while I liked the way the seasons ran into one another, since that is indeed how they work in the real world, I was a bit puzzled by all the seasons being on stage together at the end. Maybe I am just too literal minded!


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 26, 2006 11:22 am 
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I had the good fortune to see Program 2 again last night. It is easy to forget how lovely and relaxing it can be to watch a performance without the pressure of having to take notes. That pressure can be a barrier to letting in those things which aren't immediately capturable in a key word or two. In last night's Rory Hohenstein was put into "Blue Roses," for an injured Nicolas Blanc. The order of the program was changed so that "Blue Rose" went first. Perhaps because all the dancers were striving to do their best as a model for Hohenstein, Feijoo seemed more gentle about the head and neck and vibrated with energy. The partnership between Zahorian and Hohenstein was classy and inclined to let the good times roll. Most impressive in that piece was the "Brothers" duet, where the sibling rivalry humor came to the fore more prominently than the mushy stuff.

I was able to track the four seasons better in "Quartenary." Tiit Helimets is a very attentive, focused and involved partner to Maffre in this cast.

"Apollo" looked very different--perhaps because it wasn't the opener this time and lost a tiny bit of its grandeur as a result. While this cast of muses--Feijoo, Waldo and Leblanc--dances with all the seasoning their experience brings to bear, there just doesn't seem to be the same chemistry between them and Garcia, whose response to Tan as Terpsichore seemed more powerful than to Leblanc, whose rendering of the character is more open and less layered than Tan's.


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 13, 2006 2:58 pm 
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My only excuse for not posting this sooner was that I was still recovering from my long nights during my Seattle trip...

Helgi Tomasson surprised me with a very fun and watchable "Blue Rose." It's a work that entertains you with gaiety but stops just this side of the ballet-revue divide. Even the dancers' credits in the programs are listed by the first name only. All six principal dancers were a delight to watch: LeBlanc, Feijoo, Zahorian, Molat, Vilanoba and Blanc.

I wasn't too fond of "Apollo" though, mainly due to Garcia's interpretation of the title role. While displaying remarkable technique, I didn't feel he exuded the calm, serenity and command of a god. But then again I tend to be very picky when it comes to this ballet. I also had some problems with Tan's dancing of Terpsichore -- there was just a slight out-of-phase sync with Van Patten and Zahorian.

There were snatches of brilliance in "Quartenary," but to me, the work as a whole might be one of the least brilliant pieces I've seen from Wheeldon. The SF premiere of this performance on Valentine's Day drew the first chorus of boos I have ever heard in the SF opera house.


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