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 Post subject: San Francisco Ballet 2006 - Prog 5: Allegro Brillante, Fifth
PostPosted: Fri Mar 24, 2006 12:44 pm 
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Posts: 1451
Location: San Francisco, CA
Casting is out ! (I think there are a few people who should have some asterisks next to their names since they're making a debut in the Sanpaper Ballet...)

Quote:

Tuesday, March 28, 2006 8 pm- Opening Night

ALLEGRO BRILLANTE
Conductor: Martin West
Piano: Roy Bogas

Lorena Feijoo, Tiit Helimets*

-Pause-

CHACONNE FOR PIANO AND TWO DANCERS
Piano: Roy Bogas

Kristin Long, Davit Karapetyan*

-INTERMISSION-

THE FIFTH SEASON
Conductor: Martin West

Yuan Yuan Tan*, Damian Smith*
Katita Waldo*, Gonzalo Garcia*
Sarah Van Patten*, Pierre-François Vilanoba*

-INTERMISSION-

SANDPAPER BALLET
Conductor: Martin West

Guennadi Nedviguine, Stephen Legate, Steven Norman, James Sofranko, Jaime Garcia
Castilla, Ruben Martin, Pierre-François Vilanoba, David Arce, Garrett Anderson

Vanessa Zahorian, Muriel Maffre, Lorena Feijoo, Nutnatree Pipit-Suksun, Kristin
Long, Tina LeBlanc, Maureen Choi, Erin McNulty, Margaret Karl, Dana Genshaft,
Courtney Elizabeth, Mariellen Olson, Alexandra Lorey, Pauli Magierek, Andrea
McGinnis, Shannon Roberts



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PostPosted: Wed Mar 29, 2006 3:56 am 
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Location: SF Bay Area
Can this be? There are actually two Tomasson works I like within the same program! And I don't think I'm in an especially easy-to-please mood either especially having seen two innovative programs in Seattle and Boston that make SFB programming look like eye candy.

"Chaconne for Piano and Two Dancers" from 1999 was beautifully and sensually performed by Kristin Long and Davit Karapetyan, who has finally earned my praise after a few lacklustre performances.

And then there was the world premiere of "The Fifth Season." I had no expectations for it. In fact, I didn't even know it was on the program... But there it was, performed to music by Karl Jenkins, once much maligned for his score for the diamond ads (you know the one), with its strong stylish choreography. It also pays of course to have high calibre dancers like Katita Waldo, Yuan Yuan Tan, Sarah Van Patten (who's finally growing on me), Gonzalo Garcia, Damian Smith and Pierre-Francois Vilanoba dancing the leads.

"Allegro Brillante" looked much more lively this time around (did they up the tempo I wonder), with Tiit Helimets and Lorena Feijoo (you have to see her starlet sister, Lorna, in Boston, by the way!).

Mark Morris' "Sandpaper Ballet" is always the crowd favorite and so it proved again. And it's nice to see it in such good shape.


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 29, 2006 10:53 am 
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Location: San Ramon High School
"Eye candy" That's pretty close to a sophomoric put-down, Azlan. I have come to expect more from you. I had come to expect Critical Dance to have higher standards...

What do you mean, "eye candy"? Do you mean shallow and ill-conceived? Do you mean suitable only for the peurile tastes of a regional audience? Do you mean of little import other than temporary sweetness?
Do you mean of little or no substance? :?

I respect this company. I was just wondering. :?


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 29, 2006 11:33 am 
Quote:
Azlan wrote:
especially having seen two innovative programs in Seattle and Boston that make SFB programming look like eye candy.


Tues. 3/28/06

I tend to agree with you about the eye candy.

Allegro Brilliante is performed too much. The dancing was good (especially Tiit Helimets, who I'm really enjoying) but this is just not great programming. Enough of this piece already, it's tired.

I'm not a big fan of Helgi's choreography, but one thing he does well is miniatures, and I think his Chaconne is lovely. Long and Karapetyan were both wonderful—for me it was the highlight of the evening. We're so lucky to be able to see Kristin Long as much as we do. Is there any other dancer who performs contemporary ballets as well as she does?

I wasn't overly lovin' The Fifth Season. I found long stretches of it just plain boring, despite the beautiful lighting (it reminded me a lot of what Alonzo King's Lines does) and cool hanging panels all by Sandra Woodall. The sparkles on the women's outfits was really out of place though. The only section I loved was the Tango, which was beguiling. Sarah Van Patten continues to show glimpes of how good a dancer she can be. Gonzalo and Pierre-Francois Vilanoba made a big impression in this section. Okay, I did like the beginning of the last section, Bits, but the ending was a mess. Didn't like the looong Largo section with Yuan Yuan and Damien. So... what is this piece? Yet another pastiche. I couldn't find anything unifying about it to hold it together. Same with the music... a little bit of Philip Glass here, some baroque quotes there. There were impressive moments but nothing that ultimately stayed in my head or heart. No, I'll pass.

I'm kind of a cynic when it comes to "crowd pleaser" ballets, but I think Sandpaper Ballet is always a hoot. I could do without performing "Sleigh Ride" in it's entirety at the beginning, but then, Martin West has the orchestra sounding so great, I could deal with it. Everybody and his sister was dancing and, as usual, it's one of SF Ballet's treasures.

As to the programming, yes, I agree that it's a bit staid. I'm looking forward to the Forsythe piece in Program 6 and wish there were more by Nacho Duato and taking a chance on some younger choreographers. SFB is just too middle of the road sometimes, and even though I understand the audience they're targeting towards, it's going to shoot them in the foot some day when they have to go for a younger demographic.


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 29, 2006 11:57 am 
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Posts: 17498
Location: SF Bay Area
I knew I'd get flak for that comment!

Tomasson and SFB's artistic staff have had a knack for putting on incredibly attractive and satisfying works, which has propelled the company to international status, even earning Dance Europe Magazine's Company of the Year award, a first for a non-European company.

In addition to seeing the major ballet and modern dance companies around the US, I also catch as much "underground" performances as I can in which the emphasis is innovation and a willingness to fail before achieving success, and where works are inspired by social and global issues.

It was intellectually refreshing to see a similar philosophy of experimentation and the associated risk-taking guiding the most recent programs at Boston Ballet and Pacific Northwest Ballet, with new works that dare push the limits of not just ballet and dance but also the arts in general, with Dominique Dumais' world premiere for PNB in particular causing much debate about what constitutes the arts. And even older works by Val Caniparoli, one inspired by the real-life tragedy of lovers in war-torn Bosnia and another accused of appropriating African culture, became much-heated talking points.

These are scenes I'm familiar with at the underground modern dance events where no one takes it safe. Seeing two major ballet companies producing performance-art works that challenge audiences and ignite the same type of intellectual discussion is new. From that perspective, SFB's programming appears to provide a safe haven for ballet afficionados -- you know you're going to have a good time when you go to SFB and have no need to worry about ballet-trained dancers pounding the ground in ape-like movements to existential poetry about fate.


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 29, 2006 1:42 pm 
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Joined: Thu Feb 05, 2004 12:01 am
Posts: 81
Location: San Ramon High School
"Safe haven" :D I like that much better. The Bay Area has an extensive and supportive audience , with a patron base, that, in many cases, is very well educated. Regardless of "afficianado" opinions to the contrary, an education in physics can serve as a viable entre to the physical splendor and visual creativity in ballet. As a daughter of a local family who stressed a rigorous academic as well as an eclectic artistic education, I found "eye-candy" a little patronizing to me, to my family and, most importantly, to the San Francisco Ballet.

Snobbery is not what I associate with either Azlan or Critical Dance. Thank you for taking the time to consider my opinion seriously. That is what I come to value from this Website.

From my perspective, that which is "undergound" does not, de facto, coin the currency of modern expression in the arts.


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 29, 2006 5:22 pm 
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Posts: 17498
Location: SF Bay Area
shallot wrote:
Snobbery is not what I associate with either Azlan or Critical Dance.


Oh, darn. I guess all my pretentious writing hasn't worked? :wink:

Your comments are always appreciated, shallot.

But now SFB is about to prove me wrong. See this topic in Issues:

100 Years On: Remembering the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 30, 2006 12:06 pm 
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Location: El Granada, CA, USA
The professionals weigh in.

From the SF Chronicle.

Quote:
Tomasson triumphs with new ballet 'The Fifth Season'

Rachel Howard, Special to The Chronicle

Thursday, March 30, 2006

San Francisco Ballet Artistic Director Helgi Tomasson has made many fine ballets in recent years, dances like "Prism" and "Concerto Grosso" that soothe the soul with their elegance and musicality. His newest work, "The Fifth Season," is something richer: abstraction that rises to the level of drama. I believe it is his best ballet yet.

On the surface, "The Fifth Season" seems to be in the mold of "7 for Eight," Tomasson's recent success set to Bach: an intimate and pensive ensemble showcase for the unique temperaments of a clutch of favored dancers. But "The Fifth Season" is far more emotionally intense.


more...


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 01, 2006 3:43 pm 
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Location: Where little cable cars climb halfway to the stars
San Francisco Ballet Company, Program 5, War Memorial Auditorium, March 31, 2006

As this reviewer is currently writing about the dancer Gelsey Kirkland, in anything Balanchine, I am imagining her. And so it was with Vanessa Zahorian as she measured her paces through the piqués, ports de bras and tour jetés of “Allegro Brillante,” first on the evening’s program. She was “put in her place,” in what might pass for Balanchine parlance, by her partner, Ruben Martín. The couple danced smartly or languorously, depending upon what the tempo of the music, or conversely, Mr. B’s interpretation, mandated. The four-men/four-women corps work was in some ways more impeccable than that of the two principals, but then that is where the [men’s] Allegro of the work’s title really makes itself apparent. All of them were clean, elevated and strong in their dispatch of the steps. The women displayed a complementary Brilliantine polish in their sprightliness, and rat-a-tat-tat fouetté-to-arabesque flip book bravura. The adagio pas de deux offers a quietudinal respite from all the drilling, as Zahorian leans into long cambrés back, cradled expertly by Martín. The couple is so diligently neoclassical that you’re inclined to want to invite them and the corps over for a well-balanced meal. The more deeply committed you become to finally “getting” Balanchine, the more tempted you are to wonder whether what he was really after was a bevy of invitations to dinner at the tables of New York’s West Side balletomanes, who may have believed that, with a winning menu and sparkling conversation, they could restore equilibrium to whatever was out of balance in his outlook. The “Spirit of the Americana” he is said to have captured, seems to have confined itself (and I’ll exempt “Western Symphony” and “Apollo” here) to the real estate west of Lexington Avenue and east of Hoboken. Who Cares? The dancers worked against their natural instincts to deliver his package, stylized and presented prettily, and that’s what you’re primed to expect when you’re on the audience side of a Balanchine piece.

The second and third offerings were works by Helgi Tommason. The first one, “Chaconne, for Piano and Two Dancers,” a tribute to the choreographer, Jerome Robbins, was danced evocatively by Kristin Long and Davit Karapetyan. Karapetyan is new to the company, and the last time I saw him perform was at a Boston Ballet summer school showcase, soon after he had won the Prix de Lausanne. His dancing has matured so completely that I had to suppress feelings of maternal pride as I watched him squire the expert Long. Each dancer appears spot lit in solo combinations. They are dressed nearly identically, in gray leotards and black tops, and dance to piano accompaniment by Michael McGraw, who substituted for Roy Bogas. Steps that at first seemed almost-musical soon mused their way into a lovely, spare tempi, with Long’s precision honing a haunting gravitas, even as she illuminated what becomes a great vehicle for her fleet athleticism. The grown up Karapetyan is commanding, and yet genial, and dances with a sweet gentility that cannot be achieved without first letting go of all self-consciousness. The contrast between Long’s rapid, placed style, and Karapetyan’s grandeur and legato, make them perfectly suited as partners.

Tomasson’s “The Fifth Season” is a world premiere. It’s a curious title choice, and I wonder if it is intended to convey something about the choreographer’s maturation “beyond” seasons in time, related to his own “seasoning” as an artist, to a quality that rests on a plane above the four seasons or “quattro staggioni” of his previous attempts. In its six movements, it brings together Katita Waldo and Gonzalo Garcia in Fifth Season and Romance, Sarah Van Patten and Sergio Torrado in Tango and Yuan Yuan Tan and Damian Smith in Largo, with the two final couples dancing together in Waltz. Eight corps dancers come in at the end in a segment called Bits, which, while well danced, reads like a separate work at best, and feels gratuitous at worst.

The curtain opens to a series of scrolls showing giant charcoal-like smudges of varying shapes. The scrolls hang in front of a larger panel of a peach hue. Waldo establishes her dominion with held piqués and her trademark expansive arms, which must be seen from the back to be fully appreciated. In the beginning, Garcia seems a little disengaged, but soon double clicks on his role rather deftly, as the two dancers exchange épaulement-driven, sweet and low-down passé relevés. It gets pretty hot pretty fast, gray smudges and costumes notwithstanding. Waldo and Garcia return later in Romance, an adagio with lifts that include upper bodies folding around each other, and the folding paralaxing into lunges before the eye has a chance to notice a change in level. It is as if Tomasson has at last discovered what audiences have seen for years in Waldo, and set work on her that shows the full range of her artistry and virtuosity. This is epitomized in the intimacy she is able to realize with Garcia.

The Tango segment is the least successful of the six movements because it sets classical steps to tango music. That works sometimes, but fails in this instance. For example, I enjoy doing frappés at the barre to “Don’t Cry for me, Argentina” from “Evita,” but I don’t think I’d be thrilled to see my favorite combination elevated to a strategy in a performance piece. It’s important to be able to distinguish between a tactic and a strategy—in life, as well as in art.

When Torrado is partnering, he frequently seems a little put out, as if he’s on a blind date that isn’t going his way. This places his partner (who often happens to be Van Patten) in the uncomfortable position of having to relate to someone who is more of a cipher than a human being, and since there’s nobody but them onstage in this duet, she is caught in the nightmarish maws of inappropriate choreography and an absentee partner, most "seen" when he's falling out of the turns he over-torques. What if he put a scintilla of his pirouette energy into an affectionate glance at his partner now and then?

Damian Smith and Gonzalo Garcia join Torrado for a threesome with Van Patten, but this choice comes off as wholly inorganic in the context of her having been not very popular with her first partner to begin with, and then, having finally managed to locate his pulse, finding herself confronted by a reserve army of two—in a kind of last ditch effort that bugles “too little, too late!” As the tempo increases, the rationale for the quartet becomes completely incoherent and might as well be renamed “Six Temperaments” or maybe, “One temper tantrum and four dancers attempting to dance over it.”

The piece is rescued by the partnering of Yuan Yuan Tan and Damian Smith in Largo. Here, a simple rise to relevé by Tan into the attentive hands of Smith, opens up a flank to an emotional range belonging to Tan that has never before dominated her work so poignantly. Now the mega extensions occur in a context, and are put in the service of her passions, instead of being offered up as laboratory specimens. It is a privilege to witness this exposure, and it comprises a “fifth season” all unto itself for me, when anointed by Smith’s sensitive exploration of it. I am convinced that Waldo and Smith can partner with anyone, because they have such a vast professional vocabulary to share.

“Sandpaper Ballet” by Mark Morris, with its wacky score by Leroy Anderson, is always a welcome, if exhaustive reminder that comedy is a measure of artistry too. Have the costumes changed? It looks as if the greenery has risen up to empire level and the white-with-blue-clouds block has become more abbreviated. I think I prefer the white part coming all the way down to the waist. Still, it’s so much fun to have the one person who’s off kilter, out of line, or doing his or her own thing, finally getting some long overdue recognition by being memorialized in a choreographic work: So much nicer than having them run off to the dressing room in tears! Thank you Mark Morris for ceremonially marrying Human Folly with Ballet, in Joyce Kilmer costumes with choreography set to Spike Jones-ish music! Now that’s what I call “The Spirit of Americana,” and I’ll pledge allegiance to it anytime!


Last edited by Toba Singer on Mon Apr 03, 2006 11:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 03, 2006 9:53 am 
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The "mystery dancer" I've been intrigued with this season is Claire Pascal, a new principal dancer. I saw her dance Wednesday evening and yesterday afternoon in Helgi's "Fifth Season". She is a strong, cool, elegant dancer—very French. She has a way of drawing you into her movement. There is no other dancer like her in the company and I'm quite taken by her. I'm looking forward to seeing a lot more of her. In the "largo" section of the Fifth Season, Nutnaree Pipit-Suksun and Tiit Helimits were simply ravishing on Wednesday and Sunday (especially Sunday). Nutnaree is sensuous, quick and beautiful in her movements and Tiit is a wonderful partner for her. What a find for SFB these three new dancers are.

The unexpected surprise of Sunday afternoon was Sarah Van Patten and
Damien Smith's little "duet" in Sandpaper Ballet (a London reviewer, I think, once called this section "post-coital"). Sarah brought a wit and
depth to it I never really noticed before because the whole
piece is such a romp. It isn't less of a romp with Sarah but it is more
than just fun and games. She adds something special to every dance she
performs, even a big ensemble piece like Mark Morris's bouquet to SFB.
(Maureen Choi is adorable in a piece that makes the whole company look
fabulous.)


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 03, 2006 11:17 am 
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"As this reviewer is currently writing about the dancer Gelsey Kirkland . . ."

Toba, I'm really looking forward to what you have to say about Gelsey Kirkland. I never saw her dance, to my eternal regret (did anyone see her in her London triumphs, where audiences rained down daffodils on her?) but I actually think her writing and teaching will live on as long as there are dancers. I know some critics dismiss her two autobiographical books as either too gossipy, too blaming ("Dancing on My Grave") or too technical ("The Shape of Love") but I learned a lot from both books, about human behavior and "the shape of dance". I couldn't tell from your review of "Allegro" whether you felt Vanessa could learn anything from Gelsey Kirkland. I've been a fan of Vanessa's since she was in the corps, but I feel she is looking for something right now as a dancer, and can't quite seem to find it. Gelsey always sought outside teachers when she felt stuck (much to Balanchine's chagrin), and that's why I wonder if you feel Gelsey has anything in particular to offer Vanessa. What I think Gelsey might have is a way of getting inside a piece, especially valuable when you have the extraordinary technical proficiency of a Vanessa Zahorian, who is still a pleasure to watch, and as far as I know, may not be feeling stuck at all.


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 03, 2006 1:26 pm 
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I think it is Zahorian's compactness that puts me in mind of Kirkland, and though she certainly has the speed and technical skill to dance the Balanchine steps, she does seem a little out of her depth when it comes to utilizing his precription to "just dance." Yes, Kirkland sought help, and was analytical perhaps to a fault. I can see that Zahorian has gotten help with her port de bras over the years, and suspect that it is the music that may have thrown her for a loop in Rubies, which she danced in Program Six, and is not under discussion here. I expect to post a review of it sometime later today. It's just a guess, and really a second guess at that, and I'm not comfortable second guessing any dancer's difficulties on a particular night. Being thrown for a loop can be caused by an injury, personal problems, a costume or shoe problem, a floor problem, insufficient rehearsal with the real time music, insufficient rehearsal period, a hard time with a partner or exhaustion from a rehearsal schedule that can render you brain dead. So I think I'll stay with the positive quality of Zahorian's compactness in Allegro Brillante to explain my mind meandering in the direction of Kirkland, who is an easy meander because I'm thinking about her musings on Balanchine pretty much 24/7 right now. Thanks for asking...


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 03, 2006 1:46 pm 
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Thanks, Toba, that was very helpful. I'm looking forward to your review of Program 6. I'll be going tomorrow night.


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 03, 2006 9:20 pm 
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I'm also another one of many who was deeply impressed by the duet Kristin and a new principal Davit Karapetyan on Friday. I saw him as a prince (Nutcracker) and "Other Dances" in the past performances, but this was the best (up until now...) and Kristin.(oh, she was so lovely in Rodeo, too.) Yes, it was my highlight of the night, too. :D

BTW, one of my Japanese friend forwarded this to me today:

http://www.usaibc.com/releases/competitors.htm

Many familiar names in the list, such as Kuranaga, Onuki, Simkin, Nikulina, Osipova and so on.

But my eyes got caught particularly by them:

Nutnaree Pipit-Suksun, Courtney Clarkson and Davit Karapetyan (btw, does he have brother dancer also, like Martin brothers?).

I understand this competition is for professionals, too. But still I am simply surprised and impressed the "principal" keeps challenging and more... :o


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 03, 2006 11:19 pm 
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Glad you enjoyed Kristin Long and Davit Karapetyan in Chaconne on Friday. I agree, he is an absolutely beautiful dancer (and I did enjoy Kristin in Rodeo). And thanks for the information that SFB's Davit Karapetyan (representing Armenia) Nutnaree Pipit-Suksun (representing Thailand) and Courtney Clarkson (representing the USA) made it to the finals of the USA International Ballet Competition in Jackson, Miss., June 17 – July 2. It's temping to go to Mississippi to support these wonderful dancers in competition! Courtney Clarkson looked great in Allegro Brillante this week as one of four terrific corps de ballet women (Courtney Elizabeth, Erin McNulty and Lily Rogers were the others).


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