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 Post subject: San Francisco Ballet-Program 8:Continuum,Brubeck,Reflections
PostPosted: Sat Apr 22, 2006 8:45 am 
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Location: San Francisco, CA
Casting is also up for next week's Program 8:
Quote:
Tuesday, April 25, 8:00 p.m.

CONTINUUM

Piano: Michael McGraw

Yuan Yuan Tan, Damian Smith

Kristin Long, Gonzalo Garcia

Muriel Maffre, Yuri Possokhov

Rachel Viselli, David Arce


INTERMISSION


ELEMENTAL BRUBECK

Music: Tape

Gonzalo Garcia

Katita Waldo, Stephen Legate


INTERMISSION


REFLECTIONS

Conductor: Martin West

White Woman: Kristin Long

Red Woman: Lorena Feijoo

2nd Movement: Muriel Maffre, Damian Smith

3rd Movement: Guennadi Nedviguine, Pascal Molat



Program 8 Evening
Wednesday, April 26, 2006 7:30 pm
CONTINUUM
Piano: Michael McGraw

Vanessa Zahorian, Moises Martin*
Kristin Long, Gonzalo Garcia
Katita Waldo, David Arce
Dores Andre*, Ruben Martin

INTERMISSION

ELEMENTAL BRUBECK
Music: Tape

Rory Hohenstein*
Elizabeth Miner*, Damian Smith*

INTERMISSION

REFLECTIONS
Conductor: Martin West

White Woman: Kristin Long
Red Woman: Lorena Feijoo
2nd Movement: Katita Waldo, Pierre-François Vilanoba*
3rd Movement: Guennadi Nedviguine, Pascal Molat


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 26, 2006 1:16 pm 
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Enjoyed Yuri Possokhov's "Reflections" very, very much -- it's such a simply elegant work with more than a touch of sensuality in the costumes and gestures. Guennadi Nedviguine, Lorena Feijoo and Kristin Long, among others, were mesmerizing.

I could have done without Lar Lubovitch's "Elemental Brubeck," which started out promisingly but then fell into jazz cliches and repetition. But I did enjoy Katita Waldo and Stephen Legate's jazziness.

Christopher Wheeldon's "Continuum" was nice to look at but resembled too much a NYCB/Peter Martins unitard style ballet.


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 27, 2006 4:02 pm 
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From the SF Chronicle.

Quote:
New piece 'Elemental Brubeck' puts S.F. Ballet in a buoyant early '60s mood

Janice Berman, Special to The Chronicle

Thursday, April 27, 2006

First performed in July in Paris, "Elemental Brubeck," created by Lar Lubovitch for the San Francisco Ballet, had its hometown premiere Tuesday night at the War Memorial Opera House.

Set to three pieces created by Brubeck in 1963 for his recording "Time Changes" and led by Gonzalo Garcia, soloing in a bright red jumpsuit, it was a festive, knockout display, joyously evoking some of the greatest moments of American dance on film.


more...


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 27, 2006 4:44 pm 
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That's all The Chronicle published? It reads more like a sports recap than a dance review.

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 30, 2006 11:51 am 
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San Francisco Ballet Program 8, War Memorial Opera House, San Francisco, CA April 28, 2006

“Doctors and doctors first!” was my guess as the odor of smoke intensified, and mostly middle-aged and older men rose from their seats one after the other and left the theater just as the temperature of “Continuum” itself had begun to rise. It was a kind of “staged withdrawal.” Was Stansfield Turner in the house? I could feel my conjunctiva protesting, as my vision seemed to blur, but critics (and I can think of only one possible exception) are inclined to hang on to the bitter end, mindful of the responsibility their comps confer. So I turned to my companion for the evening, tossing my head in the direction of the exiting gentlemen, and whispered, “Wusses.” She seemed unconvinced by my feigned bravado, but remained seated nonetheless.

Christopher Wheeldon’s “Continuum” opens on a patch of light adjacent to a half drawn traveler curtain that gains more of the stage as the piece continues. Dancers costumed in green, brighten the stage with cross over turns and scissor leg lifts and each little essay in the piece is discontinued by a blackout. Yuan Yuan Tan and Damian Smith give us a front-of-curtain pas de deux that initiates the Keith Haring-like developpés which serve as the signature steps of this work: Knees bent, feet flexed and arms crook’d at the elbows with hands flexed, a pedagogical essay demonstrating how simply pointing the foot or extending the leg changes the entire line and look. There are lifts that morph into somersaults ending with the body pulling up while held. The lifts flirt with danger as Smith “walks” his partner upside down as she scissors her legs and feet where her head once was, and then promenades resting on his extended back, ending in what my teacher Svetlana Afanasieva used to call a “port de bras Swan Lake.” Blackout.

Kristin Long gives us her “oops I did it again” quicksilver echappés, changements and bourées, and backs out of the picture as suddenly as she appears. Rachel Viselli and David Arce are the adage couple, and as with Tan and Smith, they take your breath away, as he lowers her sideways to the floor, her torso held in one continuous line, as she looks out toward the audience. It’s during Muriel Maffre and Yuri Possokhov’s impassioned pas de deux that has all the tailings of a last goodbye [Possokhov retires next week] that the smoke begins to insinuate itself into the drama and the more skittish or medically-inclined members of the audience contribute their own interpretive choreography—all but chassée-ing for the nearest exit. Nonetheless, the couple is mesmerizing, and no serious balletomane could think for a moment of abandoning his or her seat.

Gonzalo Garcia gives us a solo that lifts the piece (again), issuing turns that look like saut de basques, but done with both legs opening up (more Keith Haring here) which completely capture what Wheeldon is reaching for. Tan and Smith return and do floor work that recalls the vocabulary of Humphrey-Weidmann, with accompanying music variously taut and trilling, thinning out the synapse across which the tension travels. Long returns as Garcia’s partner, and they are stepping in and out of each other’s serpentine paths, wriggling all over each other on the floor like gummy worms.

Maffre delivers a slow reach across her partner, Possokhov. It is as if they are moving through water. He turns her upside down and her legs mark the seconds like the hands of a clock. They end up in an impossible pose on the floor that looks like a Swiss army knife with all its component tools exposed. Men with propeller arms pilot the piece into a smooth landing.

If you’ve believed as I have—that classical ballet dancers can’t do justice to jazz—please see Lar Lubovitch’s “Elemental Brubeck” danced by San Francisco Ballet Company. It’s never too late to witness your own shibboleths tested and failing so spectacularly!

Brubeck opens with “Solo” danced by Rory Hohenstein, this season’s emergent male corps member, dressed in red from head to toe, clearly feeling celebratory about something, which causes him to turn the flame up as he pushes away air with both hands. As the remaining dancers scamper in all zephyr-like, we repudiate our pet notions, and wholeheartedly embrace the mood they create. They are deft, fast, not prone to holding too long that which should not be held, and in their pastels, look like an anthropomorphized version of the laundry my mom hung out on the line. If you’ve ever read the children’s book, “Mrs. McNosh Hangs up her Wash,” you know what I mean.

Elizabeth Miner, in peach, looks as enticing as a scoop of sherbet on a summery afternoon. All Bambi Lynn-ish, she is partnered by Damian Smith, who wears a slate blue shirt appointed with a smart white collar. The movement and lifts that rise out of it feel more like a tribute to the music and its composer than a composition set to notes and counts.

Each duet is washed away by a wave of the other cast members, who overtake the stage like a rinse cycle, as Laundry Presses Onward Into The Machine Age. “Combo” set to “Theme from Elementals,” opens with an intriguing guitar strum and then violins straining towards something ominous, and is danced gleefully by three couples, Megan Low, James Sofranko, Frances Chung, Garrett Anderson, Courtney Elizabeth and Matthew Stewart. Chung is a tensile, yet playful jazz dancer. Both Elizabeth and Stewart are scarily fearless. There’s waltzing and those big scoopy Astaire leapin’ lizard turns that work the arms so as to make it look like the dancer is miraculously parting the waters of the Red Sea. The announcer can deny that there was smoke in the house, but she can’t deny that there was fire: Hohenstein returns for a coda called “Elementals.” It is burning down the house!

Yuri Possokov’s new piece for this season is “Reflections.” Eight whitely luminescent panels form a backdrop. Cannons of dancers in white disk tutus confer a modernist “Theme and Variations” energy, sending the message that the piece is reaching for transparency of spirit. Vanessa Zahorian is captaining the crew, flying stage left to right, and landing on the floor in a kind of home run slide that almost looks like she’s fallen. When she repeats it later, we realize that it’s part of the choreography. The many dancers in white are like floating islands, so pristine that it is almost a necessity that Lorena Feijoo arrive driving downstage center in red. Red! More red dancers follow her example, and then they form two lines and the lines break into alternating segments, some in, some out, some up, some down. Lines and refractions of lines have dancers turning outward and inward, in their groups and individually, as they bourrée toward and away from their counterparts. All women—and they are so in charge that they could be conducting the orchestra collectively. Where are the men? There’s scarcely time to consider this separatist question because the andante music opens and the stage is now differently lit.

Mirrors descend almost imperceptibly. They infiltrate into the space where the white panels were. A rivulet of light opens from stage right to stage left. I am reminded of Maggie Black’s advice to Gelsey Kirkland when Kirkland was having trouble interpreting Balanchine: “Imagine a stream of light!” Male dancers are costumed in black muscle-man shorts and tanks. Women are in white. The dancers in black and white are reflected in the mirrors, and the audience shares their vision with them. We now see what they see in the studio. That essential missing link to the ballet world is imported for all to witness. Katita Waldo, ever the generous fairy, is partnered by Pierre François Villanoba in a heartrending pas de deux, Waldo draped like white crepe over his shoulders. Davit Karapetyan’s bravura solo invites four, and then many more muscle men into an entire world of just men—where were they?—denizens of a habitat that seems inscrutable, even as they make an earnest effort to explain with testosterone-driven battue, double tours, and fouetté-propelled jumps to arabesque. If it were crude, it would be the leather bathhouse of ballet theater, but it is not crude. It is imploring in its way: asking us to see really and truly once and for all what men want, and exploring what they want as dancers, harmonizing with light feet and weighted bodies. Is it all about the men? Yes and no. Women in red are returning. Pascal Molat has been given a solo that is the capstone of the piece. There is a cinematic sweep to his mastery of the stage, very much in the Ruzimatov style, and anointed by his stiletto turns. Molat and Karpateyan pair up for a stunning duet, as the white women return and there are three colors on the stage, with more mirroring than ever, as they take little lunges, dragging a foot a beat behind the music. The mirrors give us more visual, and the orchestra more auditory volume, as delicate prances dot the mirrored inscape, and the dancers emerge for their Révérence.

As we bobble our way to the exit, rubbing our smoke fume swollen eyes, my companion asks, “What does that piece mean?” “If you’re Russian, the colors white, red and black could stand for reaction, revolution and anarchy,” I say, reaching wistfully for political symbolism that might reconcile the refracted elements of what I assume to be choreographer’s life so far. What I really want to say is how very much I will miss him.


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 30, 2006 1:10 pm 
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Quote:
Christopher Wheeldon’s “Continuum” opens on a patch of light


Quote:
A rivulet of light opens from stage right to stage left.


So, who designed the lighting?

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 30, 2006 3:31 pm 
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I was actually going to make a comment about the lighting for "Reflections" which I liked tremendously -- it's not easy working with mirrors and silhouttes -- but I forget the name of the designer. Could it be the company's lighting designer, Kevin Connaughton?


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 30, 2006 3:55 pm 
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Well, it seems to me that if a design element is good enough (or bad enough) to merit mention, the artist responsible should be credited (or blamed).

After all, you wouldn't say, "The 32 fouettes were wonderful," without naming the dancer who performed them.

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 30, 2006 5:11 pm 
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I think David Finn lit "Reflections," which debuted last year on Program 4.

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 30, 2006 6:50 pm 
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Quite right, Tom and Jeff. Reflections was lit by David Finn; Continuum by Natasha Katz.

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 30, 2006 8:59 pm 
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As Toba mentioned, above, this has been a breakout season for Rory Hohenstein. He was fabulous in the solo from Elemental Brubeck. Besides moving beautifully and having the requisite virtuoso technique, he also looked great in the purely jazz dance bits in the last movement. I was still elated as I was walking afterward to the BART station. I happened to glance at my watch, saw that it was only about 9:30, and suddenly realized that there was an entire third ballet to go. Mr. Hohenstein's performance was that good -- it made a fitting end to the evening! (But Reflections also made an excellent end to the evening.)

I was curious to see Gonzalo Garcia perform the Brubeck solo, because I couldn't imagine anything better than Hohenstein's performance. Well, it wasn't better, but it was just as exciting, in a different way. The two men have quite different builds and ways of moving, and I like both apples and oranges. The one area in which Hohenstein had the advantage, though, was in his obvious talent for (and experience in, I'd guess) jazz dancing. Garcia did the movements well enough, but Hohenstein knew how to sell it. He was in the "Combo" of the ballet today, and he stood out again in the jazzy sections, as did Matthew Stewart, and Damian Smith in the April 28 performance.

In ballets such as this one, I do love to see couples who truly look as if they're enjoying dancing together, so I especially liked Katita Waldo and Stephen Legate's duet, and Courtney Elizabeth and Matthew Stewart in the Combo.


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 30, 2006 11:18 pm 
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djb,

Were you there this afternoon? I was, too! I wish I had known so I could have said hello.

For me, the level of enjoyment for this program went on with the program. I really did not like Wheeldon's piece: it looked like a collection of the most popular post-Balanchine moves all put in one piece. I didn't think it was very musical either, as it didn't really illuminate the music in any clear way. It looked like a soulless mechanical contraption to me. The lighting was interesting, but arbitrary.

Lubovitch's piece was much more enjoyable coming after the astringent Wheeldon, and I could enjoy it for its physicality, but I don't think it said anything interesting.

I really enjoyed Possokhov's piece on many levels. The dancing was done by someone who's obviously conversant with ballet idioms and images, and knew how to logically extend it. The design also reflected this evolutionary, incremental thinking: I loved the pared-down tutus, and the colors. And it doesn't hurt that your central pas de deux is danced by Muriel Mufre. Wow --- she is magnificent!

Also, it's been a while since I've seen the company, but have they become a bit ragged over the last year or two? I saw some technical problems, and ragged corps work in this as well as Sylvia on Saturday night. One of the girls in the Wheeldon piece came out with her belt untucked, for example.

--Andre


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PostPosted: Mon May 01, 2006 1:32 am 
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I also enjoyed Lubovitch's piece for its physicality. However, I got pretty tired of seeing his circular, swoopy type of movement for such a long period, especially in the last movement, which seemed to go on forever. Fortunately, the choreography for the soloist broke it up somewhat.


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PostPosted: Mon May 01, 2006 4:01 pm 
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Sunday afternoon the Wheeldon cast was ragged at first, and seemed tired even after they got in synch. Only Katita Waldo seemed to be fully committed to the performance. It's end of a long season, and as Stephen Legate observed during his charming and articulate interview (with Evelyn as interrogator), dancers are up there smiling through pain from injuries and strains. I recall enjoying this work much more the first time. This time I was aware of so much adagio. Why two so-slow pas de deuxs in a role? There are still moves I enjoy in this ballet, but it didn't connect on Sunday. I was also aware of some Balanchine trademarks that did not add to Wheeldon's intention.

Legate said that the Lubovitch Brubank piece was one of the five hardest in his 21 years of dancing. (Others he mentioned were the switch of roles in Swan Lake and Rubies.) Legate gave a superb envoi to the matinee crowd. He's going out while still on top of his artistry. Overall, this performance more than made up for the dullness of Wheeldon's work. Why not a fun and vibrant piece? The references to 1950s film and Broadway dance were evident. Katita as Cyd Charisse, hints of the Sharks in West Side Story, wiggles from Bob Fosse. Elizabeth Miner was wonderfully coltish with James Sofranko. Garcia didn't hold the center of the piece, as he should, which is not to say he was bad, merely that his extra flair was missing. The couples were all distinctive and won a rousing ovation from this normally subdued audience.

As for Reflections, let's hope we see more of Yuri's choreography now that he is not dancing with SFB. This was the most coherent and consistent vision. The deconstructed references to classical favorites were particularly enjoyable, even humorous. And, oh, those men, notably Molat and Karpyetan (sp--don't complain, please, no time to dig up program). The only glitch was a mirror that got awry and showed us on the orchestra right the backstage activity. The ensemble, from small solo bits to the full cast, was precise and energetic. Bravo, brava!

While we carp over some details of SFB, we are so fortunate. Look at what has happened in LA. Are they ever going to support dance sufficiently down there? What a shame.


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PostPosted: Mon May 01, 2006 4:18 pm 
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fluteboo wrote:
While we carp over some details of SFB, we are so fortunate. Look at what has happened in LA. Are they ever going to support dance sufficiently down there? What a shame.


That just gives us more time to travel to other cities and carp on their companies! :twisted:

--Andre


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