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 Post subject: San Francisco Ballet Program 4
PostPosted: Thu Mar 12, 2009 11:19 pm 
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Location: SF Bay Area
I am again amazed by the company's depth of talent and was moved by the virtuosity of solo musicians Roy Bogas, Roy Malan and Michael McGraw. Of the dancers, I have to say I find Taras Domitro impressive and Sarah Van Patten growing on me. It's astounding how strong this company is.

I thought Helgi's "...Paganini" to be stylish in a compositional and classical sort way -- structured but not necessarily exciting or inspirational.

Tudor's "Jardin aux Lilas" is also another highly compositional piece but much more effective in projecting an aesthetic and emotional feeling. But does it make sense for me to say this rendition has lost some Englishness?

Robbins' "The Concert" packs plenty of punch. It is definitely a crowd pleaser but one that is more subtle that some people give it credit for.


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 13, 2009 12:38 pm 
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Joined: Thu Mar 25, 2004 12:01 am
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Location: San Francisco
San Francisco Ballet
Program 4
Thursday, March 12, 2009, 8PM

With “Swan Lake” packed up, San Francisco Ballet is churning out several mixed bills, and last night’s opening of Program 4 presented timeless works and a more recent, yet questionable, addition.

Antony Tudor’s “Jardin Aux Lilas” melds intricate emotion and circular, unrestrained movement into a compact spin through love, lust, and gutrenchingly difficult life choices, all at a moonlit garden party. “Jardin” moves through streams of consciousness, throttling forward as Caroline, danced with raw emotion by Lorena Feijoo, wrestlesbetween her future and her heart. Sofiane Sylve played coy and jealous, showing added dimension as the strong yet possessive mistress of Caroline’s stoic husband-to-be, Pierre François-Villanoba. This marriage of convenience doesn’t seem convenient to anyone, really, but before Caroline and The Man She Must Marry walk down the aisle, she and her lover, Ruben Martin, share a passionate but unresolved goodbye. Tudor’s movement still rings fresh, some 70 years later, and violinist Roy Malan’s tearful and discontented final note rang true, reminding me that not all choices are for love and happiness, but sometimes for some other grand purpose.

Balancing “Jardin’s” sorrowful tone was Jerome Robbins’ “The Concert,” set to the music of Frederic Chopin, and staged by Jean-Pierre Frohlich. Sarah Van Patten’s hammy Ballerina immediately caused the audience to break out into boisterous, unapologetic snorts with her adoration and forceful slap-turned-bear-hug of Michael McGraw’s grand piano, and the good times just kept rolling with Erin McNulty’s prissy wife and Pascal Molat’s uncommitted but hysterical husband. The rest of the cast didn’t disappoint either, with the corps of women journeying through a side-splitting lesson on timing and a few very obvious and appreciative glances at ballet’s extremes. I’m curious to know what other casts might do with this special work, especially Vanessa Zahorian as the Ballerina. Comedic timing worthy of “Whose Line is it Anyway?” and first-rate ballet aren’t normally thought of in the same vein, but maybe choreographers should rethink things because “The Concert” was rip-roaring fun and, again, like “Jardin,” relevant and highly enjoyable years after its debut.

Seeing these two after Helgi Tomasson’s encore of “On a Theme of Paganini” made it even clearer that Tomasson, while a wonderful and well respected artistic director, isn’t meant to choreograph. Last night, I scratched my head, trying to figure out why “Paganini” returned, and my gut tells me that if it were any other choreographer, it would have been shelved or majorly retooled. In “Paganini,” Tomasson’s ballet vocabulary mixes traditional with those associated with George Balanchine: 180 degree kicks, open hips, and flexed hands. He also leans on awkward, jagged karate-like jumps and, while they’re certainly unique, they’re not eye pleasing or consistent, which, combined with the large sections of unison and lack of emotion or impetus, tended to make the dancers, from the principals to the corps, look messy and hesitant. The high point of “Paganini” came in the packages of the smaller, focused sections like the pas de deux featuring Maria Kochetkova and Davit Karapetyan in a tender moment of quiet retreat. Nice yes, but four minutes couldn't ease the pain.

“Jardin aux Lilas” and “The Concert” alone are worth the price of admission, and I hope both return next year. They’re oldies, but goodies.

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 16, 2009 10:36 am 
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Joined: Thu Mar 25, 2004 12:01 am
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Location: San Francisco
Tragic 'Jardin' hums with humanity; Robbins' 'Concert' crackles with life
Rachel Howard, Chronicle Dance Correspondent
Saturday, March 14, 2009

Quote:
There are ballets that are good for the box office, and then there are ballets that are good for the soul. Two of the latter opened at the San Francisco Ballet on Thursday night, one tragic and one comic, both as richly acted as they are danced. Program 4 is, to my mind, the most fulfilling offering the Ballet has yet given us this season.

The tragic piece is Antony Tudor's "Jardin aux Lilas," and the mild surprise is that the company delivers it so movingly. This is the kind of ballet where nuance and humanity matter far more than technique, the kind of ballet that can get shortchanged if it is treated as "old fashioned" or beneath the dancers' athleticism. Donald Mahler of the Tudor Trust wins great credit for staging this production - San Francisco Ballet's first, though Tudor created "Jardin" in 1936, and the ballet (known as plain "Lilac Garden" to many fans) has been acknowledged as a 20th century masterpiece. The story line is simple: At their engagement party, a husband-and-wife-to-be each find stolen moments with their secret true loves, then leave arm-in-arm with loveless resignation. The climax is famous: As Ernest Chausson's "Poeme for violin and orchestra" surges, Tudor boldly freezes the action for two full bars of music. More important than the motionless tableau, though, is what happens next.


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