I saw programs 6 and 7 this weekend, and was disappointed. Program 6 starts with Wheeldon's Ghosts, continues with Helgi's 7 for 8, and concludes with McGregor's Chroma (which was the main reason why I saw this program). Ghosts seems like a typical Wheeldon ballet: full of clever, well-crafted choreography and some really novel moments, but is soulless and ultimately says nothing. A lot of promise, but no satisfaction. I really liked the slightly unfurling kinetic sculture on stage, and I wish he'd done more with it. As a non-fan of Helgi's choreography, 7 for 8 was surprisingly unawful. It's a great showpiece for the strong men of SFB, but lacking a bit for the women, with their choreography looking like the greatest hits of Balanchine. Chroma was perhaps the greatest disappointment. I've seen this piece a couple of times before with the Royal Ballet, as well as the video just released, and the SFB dancers looked tentative and perhaps a bit tired. Someone said that this might have been the same cast as the afternoon --- I saw the evening show on 6 on Saturday. There was no intensity, and no real phrasing: just the generic legato ballet phrasing. The one exception was Lorena Feijoo who brought intensity to an unfortunately small part. They looked like a regional company struggling with the choreography. One of the few bright spots was the performance of the orchestra, who were fantastic.
Program 7 on Sunday fared only slightly better. It opened with Fokine's Petruchka, and the performance gave us all the right things: Petruchka's pathos next to the Moor's evil mischief. I admit that Petruchka's mitten hands always crack me up, too. The staging was great, with the crowd scenes overflowing and adding to the spectacle. I can only imagine what the first audiences thought about this ballet with its non-ballet and odd design. After Petruchka, 7 dropped like a rock with the terrible Underskin by Zanella. The lead girl's costume was fantastic: it was a full body suit in black with intricate designs on it, like some a modern superhero might wear. Other than that, the ballet was completely underwhelming. How many ballet steps per second can you fit into Schoenberg's gorgeous Verklate Nacht? Apparently, if you don't care about making something coherent and musical, a lot. The last piece of the night was Wheeldon's new breathless ballet with a really gorgeous color design: deep saturated colors in the costumes contrasted against a lighting design in complementary colors. But that's all it had going for it: again, many steps per second, with no time to rest the eye, and this time, unlike Ghosts, not even much cleverness to appreciate. It looked like something quickly tossed together. Again the orchestra was the highlight of the performance.