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 Post subject: San Francisco Ballet 2009 - Program 8
PostPosted: Fri May 01, 2009 6:20 pm 
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Location: San Francisco
S.F. Ballet's hip 'Evil,' classic 'Seasons'
Rachel Howard, Chronicle Dance Correspondent
Thursday, April 30, 2009

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To hear many New York critics tell it, the heavens opened and angels sang from on high to greet Alexei Ratmansky's "Russian Seasons" at the New York City Ballet three years ago. But if this is God's gift to contemporary ballet choreography, perhaps the art form is as imperiled as doomsayers claim. Judging from a first viewing of "Russian Seasons" on Tuesday during its company premiere at San Francisco Ballet, Ratmansky's rapturous reception attests more to the oft-lamented dearth of great new ballets than it does to the young Bolshoi-bred dance maker's savior status.

Which is not to say "Russian Seasons" is a bad ballet. An affectionate study of the Russian temperament set to Leonid Desyatnikov's subtly rustic and dissonant suite of songs (some sung by mezzo soprano Susana Poretsky), "Russian Seasons" has a charming ease with folk gesture, a refreshing way of creating character and a pleasing narrative ambiguity. Galina Solovyeva's Crayola-hued costumes are winsome, and the sweetly framed melodrama and penchant for tragedy suit Lorena Feijoo and a richly human Sofiane Sylve especially well. Young Isaac Hernandez had muscular yet clean technique and unaffected presence.

More...

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PostPosted: Fri May 01, 2009 6:45 pm 
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Just wanted to let you know that I received an e-mail from SF Ballet that due to dancer's illness, there is a change to all Program 8 performances this weekend. Ballanchine's Rubies will replace Russian Seasons. Here is the link to casting which includes the change:

http://www.sfballet.org/performancestic ... p#43680798

While I am disappointed because I wanted to see the second cast of Russian Seasons (saw the company premiere on Tuesday), I am happy I will get the chance to see Maria Kochetkova perform in Rubies.

~Herm


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PostPosted: Sat May 02, 2009 3:49 pm 
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Here's the text from the the casting page. Hopefully this is only for the weekend!

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PLEASE NOTE: Due to dancer illness, a change in programming is required for the upcoming Program 8 performances on Saturday, May 2, 2pm & 8pm and Sunday, May 3, 2pm. George Balanchine’s Rubies will now replace Alexei Ratmansky’s Russian Seasons.

Although programming is always subject to change, we offer our sincerest apologies and thank you for your support of San Francisco Ballet.

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PostPosted: Sun May 03, 2009 12:22 pm 
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San Francisco Ballet
Program 8
April 28, 2009, 8PM

I’m always a little sad at the end of the ballet season. As an audience member, seeing dancers attack new roles, revisit old ones, and expand their performance range feels fulfilling in some strange and usual way. And each season tends to be different, with various dancers rising to the occasion. These intricate developments can’t be predicted, but they’re sort of like the chili you make on a cold and rainy day: dependent on the ingredients you have at the time, heating time, and a little bit of luck. With this in mind, I watched San Francisco Ballet’s final program of the season (not including Tina LeBlanc’s farewell performance next Saturday evening) with a satisfying hunger in my belly.

Jorma Elo’s “Double Evil,” which premiered last season as part of the New Works Festival, shone brightly here as the evening’s closer. The work features odd quirks such at the women‘s derrieres pushed out behind their abnormally slanted tutus as they frequently stared ahead at the floor instead of up at their partners or the audience, but the slinky and peculiar movement using jagged arms, unexpected lifts, and what might be considered awkward yet incredibly inventive, almost nerdy choreography all came together in a whirlwind 27 minutes. The music flips back and forth between the quieter music of Phillip Glass and motivating percussion of Vladimir Martinov, and as it did, the eight dancers propelled themselves forward, using large bouts of momentum to continuously push ahead while still looking beautifully pretty. All of the dancers performed well, but especially Elana Altman and Pierre-François Vilanoba, who twinkled in the opening duet; in addition, she continues to amaze me with her various strengths and movement diversity. “Double Evil” may not have made a huge dent in the grand scheme of ballet, but Elo’s unique movement style and structure are both entertaining and imaginative nonetheless.

Alexei Ratmansky, heralded as the next big thing in choreography, delivered a confident yet not too original work entitled “Russian Seasons,” which debuted in 2006 via New York City Ballet’s Diamond Project. Meant to showcase the real goings-on amongst a group, Ratmansky produces an introspective dance that intends to bridge the delicate with the overly dramatic. With the 12 dancers adorned in peasant-like jewel tones, the six pairs moved gracefully through this lengthy endeavor. Lorena Feijoo displayed her soap opera alter-ego as she delved through the work, seemingly tormented, but Yuan Yuan Tan didn’t overdo it as the bride-to-be as she wrestled with her impending marriage and the loss of personal freedoms. It’s unusual to see a cast including nine principals in one place, but soloists Hansuke Yamamoto and Elizabeth Miner, and corps member Isaac Hernandez all held their own and then some, saying a lot about the company’s depth and capacity. The score, Leonid Desyatnikov’s “The Russian Seasons” provided a moody undercurrent, complete with live vocals from mezzo soprano Susana Poretsky. But none of this could save “Russian Seasons” from feeling unusually overdone.

Additionally on the bill was Yuri Possokhov’s “Fusion,” also reappearing after the New Works Festival. No doubt it’s a fun piece, with new age-crossed-with-jazz accompaniment by Graham Fitkin and Rahul Dev Burman, but Possokov tended on the literal side as he explored his transition from dancer to choreographer. With a corps of four men often dancing in synch or canon and dressed in hats, deep v-necks, and long skirt/pants ensembles (all white), their movement often became hokey and expected as they weaved through the rest of the dancers. The eight principals, though, flew through the air at sonic speeds, whipping their bodies around and about, and this peaked my interest. Garen Scribner, especially, had an instinctive way of connecting the steps, making it look not like twelve different positions, but one remarkable and ever-continuous journey from point A to B.

April is one of those months that is traditionally filled with dance. Many smaller companies tour, the bigger ones are wrapping up their home seasons, and the month’s end hosts National Dance Week in cities and towns all across the country. With the economy a looming question mark at everyone’s dinner table and donations to non-profits dropping, we can’t quite guess what next year’s arts season will bring. With the regular season wrapping up, San Francisco Ballet’s offerings this year have, overall, been strong and sure. The quality of the dancers has been dependable, even with multiple big names injured for most of the run, and many soloists and corps de ballet dancers have risen to the occasion, displaying bright and hidden talents. Here’s hoping that our arts organizations, both large and tiny, can recover (financially and, in SF Ballet’s case, health-wise) from what is assumed to be a difficult few years in the making.

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PostPosted: Thu May 07, 2009 8:27 am 
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I'm not exaggerating when I say it takes my breathe away each time I experience this company -- quality seems to be exuding from every department in this organization; on stage, behind the stage, in the pit. Everywhere!

However, the aggregate choreography and design in this program left me feeling somewhat less than satiated...

While I liked the musicians and the dancers in "Fusion" and thought the lighting quite effective, the rest of it though... Well, if they can be worked on, I might find this work not only good but also entertaining.

I didn't understand the artistic heart of "Russian Seasons" and with the aesthetic vision somewhat inconsistent, I felt lost. It was like a collage of things that were incongruent. I kept going "huh?"

Thankfully, Jorma Elo saved the night for me. I've seen him on stage and as a choreographer for quite a while; his works for Boston Ballet and later for other companies always left me wanting more. I've been afraid that his creative juices may dry out but so far it hasn't. "Double Evil" pleases, entertains, sparks the imagination, and like all his other ballets, leaves me wanting more.

Forget Possokhov, Ratmansky, or other permutations of an all-Russian program. Forget all-Robbins and all-Balanchine. And programs showcasing pretenders like Mark Morris. How about an all-Elo night? What do you say, Mr. Tomasson?


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PostPosted: Thu May 07, 2009 11:21 am 
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Hey, hands off on Mr. Morris! He's reaching god-like status in my book...

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PostPosted: Fri May 08, 2009 2:03 pm 
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LOL! I guess I have to be careful when I quote from history when there are possible alternate meanings of common words -- from Wikipedia:

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A pretender is a claimant to an abolished throne or to a throne already occupied by somebody else. The English word pretend comes from the French word prétendre, meaning "to put forward, to profess or claim". The term pretender is also applied to those persons on whose behalf a claim to a throne is advanced, regardless of whether that person himself actually makes an active claim.[citation needed] Significantly, the word pretender applies both to claimants with genuine rights to the throne (such as the various pretenders of the Wars of the Roses), and to those with fabricated claims (such as the pretender to Henry VII's throne Lambert Simnel). People in the latter category often assume the identities of deceased or missing royals, and are sometimes referred to for clarity as false pretenders or royal impersonators. The papal equivalent of a pretender is an antipope.


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PostPosted: Fri May 08, 2009 4:38 pm 
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Just in case, here's a dictionary definition -- incidentally, the online Oxford dictionary has only one definition:

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noun a person who claims or aspires to a title or position.


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PostPosted: Mon May 11, 2009 1:14 pm 
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OK, I'm confused. What is Morris pretending to be or aspiring to become?


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PostPosted: Mon May 11, 2009 2:45 pm 
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The way I read Azlan's comment, I took it to mean Morris was trying to be something he wasn't... If you think he's claiming a throne, well, I'm clueless on that one.

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PostPosted: Mon May 11, 2009 4:47 pm 
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I like the image of Morris trying to claim a throne. :lol:


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