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Subject: "SFB in London" Archived thread - Read only
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Conferences What's Happening Topic #1981
Reading Topic #1981

11-08-01, 12:27 PM (GMT)
Click to EMail Viviane Click to send private message to Viviane Click to view user profileClick to add this user to your buddy list  
"SFB in London"
   A bit of a 'sad Saturday' to me : I had to give up my La Scala- tickets for today
Do you think the SFB-performances on Friday and Saturday(mat) are a good alternative ?
I'm sorry to say but I'm not familiar with SFB and the casting-list don't tell me much.
Can someone give me some advice ? Thanks !

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  Subject     Author     Message Date     ID  
  SFB Programme thoughts... Bruce Madmin 11-08-01 2
     RE: SFB Programme thoughts... Viviane 11-08-01 3
  RE: SFB in London Bruce Madmin 12-08-01 4
     RE: SFB in London Jeff 13-08-01 5
  SFB Dancers changes and first night mention Bruce Madmin 14-08-01 6
  Some SFB Tickets - Front Row - £25? Bruce Madmin 14-08-01 7
  SFB Opening Night:- Programme 1 in brief brief Bruce Madmin 14-08-01 8
     RE: SFB Opening Night:- Programme 1 in brief brief Brendan 14-08-01 9
         RE: SFB Opening Night:- Programme 1 in brief brief Paul A 14-08-01 10
             RE: SFB Opening Night:- Programme 1 in brief brief Paul A 14-08-01 11
             RE: SFB Opening Night:- Programme 1 in brief brief Fuzzyface 14-08-01 12
                 RE: SFB Opening Night:- Programme 1 . Brendan 14-08-01 14
             RE: SFB Opening Night:- Programme 1 in brief brief Viviane 14-08-01 13
                 RE: SFB Opening Night:- Programme 1 in brief brief Paul A 14-08-01 15
             RE: SFB Opening Night:- Programme 1 in brief brief Richard 14-08-01 16
                 RE: SFB Notes on the Company Jeff 14-08-01 17
                     RE: SFB Notes on the Company Tomoko.A 14-08-01 18
  RE: SFB in London Bruce Madmin 15-08-01 20
     RE: SFB in London Bruce Madmin 15-08-01 21
         RE: SFB in London Renee Renouf 16-08-01 22
             RE: SFB in London Jeff 16-08-01 23
                 RE: SFB in London Viviane 16-08-01 24
  RE: SFB in London Emma Pegler 16-08-01 25
  RE: SFB in London Bruce Madmin 17-08-01 26
  A programme 1 review Bruce Madmin 17-08-01 27
  A Programme 2 review Bruce Madmin 17-08-01 28
  A programmee 3 review Bruce Madmin 17-08-01 29
  RE: SFB in London Viviane 19-08-01 30
     RE: SFB in London Richard J 20-08-01 31

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Bruce Madmin

11-08-01, 06:10 PM (GMT)
Click to EMail Bruce%20M Click to send private message to Bruce%20M Click to view user profileClick to add this user to your buddy list  
2. "SFB Programme thoughts..."
In response to message #0
   We have a number of things coming together but I've started here by putting up some reviews of the pieces that SFB are bringing to London and that we - well Renee Renouf our glorious West Cost correspondent - have reviewed in San Francisco over the last few months. They are rearranged into the programmes we are seeing for convenience...

Programme 1

Programme 2

Programme 3

Finally a totally gratuitous picture (by Lloyd Englert) of Muriel Maffre and Christopher Stowell in the most lovely Sandpaper Ballet (its in programme 3)

And one gratuitous fact... we actually have on line 43 full reviews of San Francisco Ballet. We rather like them! This link will bring them all up:

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11-08-01, 11:30 PM (GMT)
Click to EMail Viviane Click to send private message to Viviane Click to view user profileClick to add this user to your buddy list  
3. "RE: SFB Programme thoughts..."
In response to message #2
I was just asking 'some' advice !
You supplied us with a shower of great info !
Hmm...I think I'll go for it !
Thanks again.

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Bruce Madmin

12-08-01, 03:59 PM (GMT)
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4. "RE: SFB in London"
In response to message #0
   Jane Simpson has updated the This Week page and her commentary really puts in context what all this fuss about SFB is. And there are loads of links to reviews from their last visit, reviews recently in San Francisco, interviews, company background, dancers etc. Here is the link to the SFB part of the This Week page:

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13-08-01, 05:00 AM (GMT)
Click to EMail Jeff Click to send private message to Jeff Click to add this user to your buddy list  
5. "RE: SFB in London"
In response to message #4
   Hearing the fuss about SFB in London has made me jealous of Londoners this summer. By way of distraction, I refurbished some "notes" I made about one of the pieces the company introduced me to and may introduce to some of ballet.co.uk fans.

“Glass Pieces” : Choreography by Jerome Robbins; music by Philip Glass;

Arlene Croce observed in her 1983 review of “Glass Pieces” that choreographing to Philip Glass almost amounted to a commandment, “there shall be dances to music by Philip Glass.” In a sense, “Glass Pieces” choreographed by Jerome Robbins to 3 selections by Philip Glass-- “Rubric,” “Façades,” and “Akhnaten”—helps explain why this is. (Examples of choreographers whose works appeared in southern California recently include Alonzo King and Susan Marshall). “Glass Pieces” might be approached as an exploration of the durability of the balletic medium. Glass might replace Tschaikovsky, minimalism might replace romanticism, and Milliskins for tutus, but all the potentialities that we recognize of the balletic medium remain.

In overall structure, “Glass Pieces” consists of three parts each of which examines some thematic motif so essential to ballet that it might be invisible unless the dance makers of each generation remake it anew. Starting with the first, each section thinks through balletic time going from the post-modern present stopping briefly at the Romantic heritage so essential to western civilization myth making about the ballet and ends with a glimpse of primitivism.

Nobody watches and describes dance better than Arlene Croce: “ ‘Rubric’ opens pell-mell with a non-descript horde of dancers walking—barreling around the stage in various directions. Into this rush-hour mêlée drop two ballet dancers (assemblé descent), to be lost in the swarm, then recovered in time for a brief pas de deux in conventional ballet syntax.” Anybody who has been caught up in rush hour pedestrian traffic in Manhatten will recognize the overlapping tides of bodies flowing over the stage like a Wall Street intersection. The balletic movement of the three pairs of dancers who plunge through the urban riot of banal movement suggests that even in the modern age, the balletic eye can find the beautiful even in the everyday chaos. However, there’s more than this allusion to the city. Just as the big promenade (almost my favorite part of “Sleeping Beauty, Act III” and “Raymonda, Act III” abstracted the essence of the courtly life around which the fantasy ballets of the 19th century centered, so do those hurrying, insistent bodies represent the modern consciousness around which modern ballet centers—furiously paced, disconnected, anonymous.

Clearly, “Facades” is the centerpiece of the work. Croce again: “One melody oscillates like the path of a moonbeam on the surface of a lake, and the other melody spans it in slowly shifting single-note progressions carried by the high winds. Robbins translates the slow melody into a floating, rather mindlessly-beautiful pas de deux for Maria Calegari and Bart Cook, while the all but motionless oscillation becomes a line of shadowy figures inching along in profile at the back of the stage: the piddling continuity, as it were, of everyday life.”

The moon filtered stage, the plain background etched like graph paper (another reference to the urban world), and the slow line of corps girls stepping in sequence along the back of the stage in a twelve count sequence unmistakably refers to the Shades sequence at the beginning of “La Bayadere” Act III, “Kingdom of the Shades.” The corps girls might be Shades, or they might be somnolent nighthawks from our urban world. The pas de deux dancers might be Nikiya and Solor, or they might be the extraordinary souls we hope exist in our world but do not. Again Croce: “It is also a paradise of grand-scale minimalism This vision of infinity, the “Kingdom of the Shades,” is beheld by the hero in an opium trance. A key element in the choreography is ritual repetition, which also marks the work of Glass…” Croce made the connection that Glass did as Delibes and Minkus had done—presented the East filtered through their contemporary Western sensibilities (or in post-colonialist theory, created the East for their Western sensibility). I’d like to suggest that Robbins has filtered Glass’ music through the balletic sensibility and found what the ballet blanc has always expressed so powerfully and the world it represents—the world of unattainable love, of spiritual and romantic purity, of sacrifice, nostalgia, guilt, and loss. It is the domain of pure dance and of what dance scholar, Jody Bruner, called, the realm of primary narcissism. For over a century and a half, ballet choreographers have sought to bring out balletic movements’ immanent qualities—those things that it does best and the persistence of the ballet blanc is its vindication.

The last section, “Akhnaten,” completes “Glass Pieces” time trip backwards. (If “Rubric” was the city and alluded to modern reality, “Akhnaten” by contrast is pure fantasy. A cadre of men bounce and jump to percussive rhythms that echo and reverberate like there might be hills in the distance. The pounding drums seem quaint to the modern ear grown jaded on all variety of electronica—jungle, trance, house, etc. It might have been meant to be the opposite of the bright melodies of “Rubric,” but it retains its exotic quality only in the sense of those Petipa czardas and mazurkas might have seemed exotic—tamed and dreamt.

These are only some observations after having seen San Francisco Ballet dance “Glass Pieces” in previous seasons. My recollection is that the casts for London are very similar except that Tiekka Schofeld has Julie Diana’s role. I remember that it was watching the "Facades" pdd with Muriel Maffre and Pierre Francois Vilanoba (I think) that from the beauty and self-contained quality that what was going on was a re-thinking or rather re-contextualizing of the ballet blanc. I can only hope that other audiences will learn as much as I did. Jeff

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Bruce Madmin

14-08-01, 06:25 AM (GMT)
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6. "SFB Dancers changes and first night mention"
In response to message #0
   SFB Dancers changes and first night mention
A quick reference out to another thread where Renee Renouf mentioned soem dancer changes at SFB since she prepared her very comprensive dancer sketches for their last UK visit. The thread also contains some brief and very complimentary thoughts of SFB's first night:

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Bruce Madmin

14-08-01, 06:26 AM (GMT)
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7. "Some SFB Tickets - Front Row - £25?"
In response to message #0
   A posting down in the test forum but I know its valid - your chance t get seom very desirable ticket normally £63 for £25...

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Bruce Madmin

14-08-01, 06:53 AM (GMT)
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8. "SFB Opening Night:- Programme 1 in brief brief"
In response to message #0
   Many people were there and I hope to see lots of posts please!

Like Meunier I think the company looks incredibly strong and it was the dancers more then the repertoire perhaps I was attracted to. Pluto (the dog and 14) is not well and I have to go off but in one line (well 2 or 3 then)....

I love Robbins sense of offbeat fun in Fanfare where dancers act the parts of the orchestra - Muriel Maffre as the Harp is just so striking. Excellent opener with much mock pageantry. Mark Morris's A Garden is rather happy clappy and pleasant. Fast moving but not as strong as some of his other work perhaps (not sure about the B&Q costumes for the boys either). Possokhov's (company dancer) Magrittomania, about the painter Magritte so lots of huge green bubbles/apples kept emerging, was something of a struggle for me (sorry Renee - see her review back in SF on another link). It had the look of company choreographic workshop about it.. with designs created as a local arts school project so everything got thrown at it! However Yuan Yuan Tan brought life to it (with Roman Rykine) and I'd see it again just for her. Last piece was Balanchine's Symph in 3 Movements - the ponytail ballet. Wonderful neoclassical choreography - a real riposte to the newer works I thought. Lucia Lacarra and Yuri Possokhov were the leads - breathtaking.,,

Conclusion - wonderful, wonderful dancers, lots of different ballets some of which you will like and some you might not.. but you have to see them folks.

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14-08-01, 07:33 AM (GMT)
Click to EMail Brendan Click to send private message to Brendan Click to add this user to your buddy list  
9. "RE: SFB Opening Night:- Programme 1 in brief brief"
In response to message #8
   A few snap reactions:

1. Fanfare: I was tepid about Fanfare and found it a bit chocolate-box. While it is difficult to know where to place it in a programme except at the top, it is not a compelling opener. Might be ok for North American audiences, but did not travel well. That said, I agree with Bruce about Maffre. Great costumes!

2. Pleased to see a Mark Morris piece performed by a classical company, and by dancers with conventional body symmetries. SFB gives a clearer (and more attractive) account of Morris in some ways than does his own company. Sorry if it isn't very PC to say so.

3. Magrittomania: Possokhov, its choreographer, has a striking theatrical imagination. Renee Renouf is right - it's a treat (speaking of which, great programme notes Renee - thank you! Anyone going to SFB should read them first, as the printed programme isn't hugely helpful).

4. Balanchine - we've seen Balanchine in London this summer with English and Russian accents. Excellent to see a Balanchine ballet "in clear", in its native accent. The opening is a real coup - what a corps!

And what a company! The pre-publicity wasn't overdone. A must-see.

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Paul A

14-08-01, 08:54 AM (GMT)
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10. "RE: SFB Opening Night:- Programme 1 in brief brief"
In response to message #9
   Yes, a must see because of the enthusiasm of the dancers as a whole, but nobody stood out as exceptional.

But I left early feeling underwhelmed (and the auditorium was like a furnace).

Fanfare didn't seem to gel. Without the costumes it would be nothing. Hated the concept of the narrator and the performance. Surely it would work without.

The Mark Morris reminded me of a Paul Taylor - a compliment but not sure this will linger in the memory. Pleasant lines, skipping about but the dance equivalent of muzak for me.

Then the heat got to me and I gave up.

What struck me most was how little buzz there was last night. The auditorium was not full, lots of seats on the sides and the foyers were not that crowded - no atmosphere.

Presumably the Hochhausers are trimming costs - less front of house staff on duty than usual and the amphi restaurant closed as was crush room till not that long before curtain up.

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Paul A

14-08-01, 08:57 AM (GMT)
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11. "RE: SFB Opening Night:- Programme 1 in brief brief"
In response to message #10
   Marguerite Porter was in the audience with her husband Nicky Henson. Also spotted Wayne Sleep.

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14-08-01, 09:00 AM (GMT)
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12. "RE: SFB Opening Night:- Programme 1 in brief brief"
In response to message #10
   ...and I was told last night that the Hochausers are not doing any standbys.

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14-08-01, 12:19 PM (GMT)
Click to EMail Brendan Click to send private message to Brendan Click to add this user to your buddy list  
14. "RE: SFB Opening Night:- Programme 1 ."
In response to message #12
   Luke Jennings' Evening Standard review is at http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/dynamic/hottx/music/top_review.html?in_review_id=436017&in_review_text_id=390487

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14-08-01, 12:19 PM (GMT)
Click to EMail Viviane Click to send private message to Viviane Click to view user profileClick to add this user to your buddy list  
13. "RE: SFB Opening Night:- Programme 1 in brief brief"
In response to message #10
   >The auditorium was not
>full, lots of seats on
>the sides and the foyers
>were not that crowded -
>no atmosphere.

I think it's just incredible that there is no mentioning of free
places at the ROH-website.
The beginning of the SFB-week has already disappeared from the on-line booking days ago !
Even if it's no longer possible to process on-line bookings in a short time (wich I can't believe) they can publish a little message ?

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Paul A

14-08-01, 12:47 PM (GMT)
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15. "RE: SFB Opening Night:- Programme 1 in brief brief"
In response to message #13
   Viviane, too true and how unlike the SFB's own web site. I remember being offered specific seat numbers with the option to alter them for others when I booked online last year. As I was with the Teatro Regio in Parma when I did my NYCB booking yesterday. All done instantly.

As others have posted, the ROH online booking is nothing more than an email request service.

Despite the prices and lack of standby I got the impression there were a lot of first timers in the audience last night so hopefully the advertising is paying off.

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14-08-01, 01:08 PM (GMT)
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16. "RE: SFB Opening Night:- Programme 1 in brief brief"
In response to message #10
   This was one of the few occasions in recent memory when I can say that I thought all four pieces in a mixed bill were excellent - and I would echo other posters' comments about the depth of talent in the company.

But the piece I was most taken with was the Mark Morris. I was riveted throughout - especially with the way he subtely twisted the classical form into a vocabulary of his own. I loved the way he used 'alternative' arm positions throughout the piece - an elongated, flat palmed 'bas bras', or a floppy arms motif. Top notch!

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14-08-01, 04:58 PM (GMT)
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17. "RE: SFB Notes on the Company"
In response to message #16
   Bruce hinted that a post in the way of a quick “introduction” might be helpful.

From the general tenor of the reviews posted, I sense that many ballet.co.uk fans are more oriented towards dancer watching whereas I am more of a choreography watcher (though in the best productions, it amounts to the same thing).

San Francisco Ballet like the Royal Ballet, POB, New York City Ballet, etc is blessed with the kind of talent that very few ballet companies in the U.S. can match. This is the result of about 60 years of careful cultivation of a public, a top notch school that feeds the company, a subscriber base (over 15,000) and an endowment (about $40 million) that very few U.S. companies can match. In terms of artistic direction, Helgi Tomasson, has pushed the company on all fronts. They usually offer 5 rep productions and 2 full lengths per season at the Opera House. And, as you can imagine from a director who was a Balanchine dancer, their rep has lots of Balanchine and Robbins, and also commissions new choreography on a regular basis. In this sense, SFB is sort of a California version of NYCB. But, they also do a Joffrey by staging big, classical works of the past. For example, the company staged Makarova’s “Kingdom of the Shades” from “La Bayadere” and Nureyev’s “Raymonda, Act III.” SFB also does full lengths which NYCB only occasionally or the Joffrey do. Their “Giselle” and “Swan Lake” are true revelations. I saw both more than once, and the whole company from the artistic director, ballet masters/mistresses, coaches, principals, soloists, corps, and tech staff covered themselves with glory.

I have lots of favorite dancers (mostly the ballerinas because I tend to follow them more carefully), though I am careful to add that I rarely make comparative judgments. Among the principals I especially look for Tina Leblanc, Joanna Berman, Yuan Yuan Tan, Lucia Lacarra and Julie Diana. Tina was formerly a Joffrey principal and has had a very satisfying career with this company. She is short even for a ballet dancer, but projects a large technical and artistic personality. Her technique is pure and earnest in the way a corps or soloist dancer still trying to climb the ranks is earnest. Her dancing doesn’t tend to project outwards towards the audience like a more allegro dancer’s though she can’t really be called an adagio either. “Night” was choreographed on her and if you see that you’ll get a better sense of why. Also, she dances the “Trumpeter’s Lullaby” section of Morris’ “Sand Paper Ballet” and I’ve always liked that section. Joanna Berman is more of the home town girl of the company (born in San Rafael and trained in the company’s school). I’ve always thought of her a strongest in the narrative ballets, like “Romeo and Juliet” and “Giselle.”

YY Tan was described as “THE” ballerina to look for after Elizabeth Loscavio’s departure, but this description as a follow up act is unfair. Her career was already skyrocketing before Loscavio’s departure a few years ago. YY started out as the company’s supreme technician. She projects an uncannily serene stage presence even in the midst of the most demanding variations. She also has that supra-attenuated ballet body that looks so correct, but gets all the criticism from ballet’s more health oriented critics. You must go see her in “Bugaku.” After YY Tan no other dancer looks quite right in the role. YY is serene, confident, beautiful but not showy or sexy. Interestingly, Muriel Maffre is often the other cast for the same roles as YY and Muriel is probably the sexiest of the principals and has a healthily athletic build.

Actually, I think if you were to read the San Francisco papers, it would be Lucia Lacarra who is “THE” ballerina. On openings nights of most performance weeks, it seems either Lucia or Tina is cast. Along with YY, Lucia shares the prize for leanest build. Lucia’s always worth watching. Like YY, her technique is pure and like Tina her sincerity and concentration are practically unmatchable. Her Raymonda and her section of “Symphony in C” were revelations (at least to me—her performances didn’t go over quite that well with the critics). Julie Diana has always been one of my favorites. She is in the YY Tan and Lucia Lacarra mold in terms of technique (crystalline), but she exhibits probably the most of what a dance critic has called, “dance intelligence,” which is a sort of blend of performing charisma and exhibition of pure joy of dance movement. All the dancers of the company have this charisma to some extent or they wouldn’t have been taken into the company, but Julie’s is almost on another plane altogether--dance as pure joy. The only dancer I have seen who as much or more is Amrapali Ambegoankor, a Kathak dancer here in California.

Lorena Feijoo, a relatively recent transfer from the Joffrey, was one of my favorite Joffrey dancers and I was extremely pleased that she came over to SFB. She seems to be a favorite of Octavia Roca’s. Now, if Helgi Tomasson could only lure over Wendy Whelan from New York City Ballet…

There are plenty of men worth making an extra effort to see. Joan Boada, Cyril Pierre, and Pierre Francois Vilanoba always turn in strong performances. Up and coming soloists include Gennade Nedviguine, Gonzalo Garica, and Peter Brandenhof. Damian Smith has been very impressive in dramatic roles such as “The Invitation.” He was promoted to principal just this year.

The female soloists are very strong in the company, too, and I enjoy watching them as much as the principals. Leslie Young is a real standout. For some reason, she seems not be destined to make principal, which in a selfish sense is fine by me because it means I get to see her dance really great soloist parts more regularly than most principals dance theirs. Renee described her as the Butterfly in “Nutcracker” as “regal.” She makes the most of her soloist parts as if each was the pinnacle of her career. You’ll enjoy seeing her in the “Girl in Satin” part of “Sand Paper Ballet.” Vanessa Zahorian, a recent promotion to soloist, will probably soon be “THE” ballerina to watch. It’s no coincidence that she has inherited a lot of the soloist roles that were Julie Diana’s. When she comes onstage it’s like she has her own, separate spotlight. You also get a sense that though she’s still pretty young, soon she’ll be giving the principals a run for their money, at least judged by her performance in the 4th movement of “Symphony in C.” Vanessa is the other dancer for Tina’s part in “Night.”

It’s difficult for an audience to pick out from the corps with our limited exposure; but, I think that I can mention 2 or 3 without excuses. One is Megan Low, who keeps getting these really interesting demi-soloist roles, such as in Stanton Welch’s “Taiko” and “Symphony in C.” Alice Luann Lewitzke gets highlighted in such roles as the Russian Ballerina (well… the one in the blue tutu and the headpiece with the really tall, black feathers at any rate) in Tudor’s “Gala Performance” (Evelyn Cisneros was the starter for that role that rep season to give you an idea what a plumb role that is). Amanda Schull, who played Jody in the ballet school movie, “Center Stage.” I liked her as Jody and am waiting to see if her photogenicity will translate into something in the fierce competition that is the corps d’ ballet.

The bottom line for dancer watchers:

YY Tan in “Bugaku”
Tina Leblanc or Vanessa Zahorian in “Night”
YY Tan in “Magrittomania”
Tina Leblanc, Julie Diana, and/or Leslie Young in “Sand Paper Ballet”
URL for tour schedule: http://www.sfballet.org/summerfall/tour_schedule.php
URL for casting http://www.sfballet.org/summerfall/casting.php

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14-08-01, 10:55 PM (GMT)
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18. "RE: SFB Notes on the Company"
In response to message #17
   Jeff, thanks for the info. I'm really looking forward to seeing them for the first time. When I visited their website, I noticed Clara Blanco is listed as a member. I think she won the second prize at the Eurovision a couple years ago and she really impressed me then. Hope I can spot her this week. I also liked Amanda Shull in "Center Stage" !

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Bruce Madmin

15-08-01, 01:44 PM (GMT)
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20. "RE: SFB in London"
In response to message #0
   I'm tending to use this as a master thread with links off to pick up other postings threads about SFB - like to Ann Willams Programme 2 review:

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Bruce Madmin

15-08-01, 03:59 PM (GMT)
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21. "RE: SFB in London"
In response to message #20
   Lynette on Programme 1:

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Renee Renouf

16-08-01, 04:20 AM (GMT)
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22. "RE: SFB in London"
In response to message #21
   To read the range of reactions to SF Ballet is such a treat!
Thanks one and all.
The S.F. Ballet Jeff describes is a post 1973-74 and even 1985 phenomenon. In 1973 the Trustees almost declared bankruptcy and the dancers then literally shamed them into supporting the company, taking to the streets in a "Save our Ballet" campaign which was remarkable in the annals of dance history, unless you want to refer to de Valois' (the redoubtable Irish leader) The Prospect Before Us.

It was after Helgi Tomasson came to San Francisco Ballet as Artistic Director that a concerted campaign was undertaken to
create the endowment of which Jeff speaks. The Hellmans were the co-chairs of that campaign and it may be no coincidence that
Chris Hellman was a one-time member of The Festival Ballet! We are very lucky to have her here in San Francisco.

Also, when it comes to San Francisco Ballet School, biographical notes indicate that a high percentage of dancers come from outside the San Francisco Ballet School training. It says something about Helgi Tomasson's taste and assessment of company needs and it also says something about the School. Training there is no guarantee for a place in the company upon graduation.
Many of the dancers who come to San Francisco with great promise spend a few months in the School and then get into the company as
as apprentices and begin their climb. This has been particularly true of several male Spanish dancers - Garcia, Castilla, Tarrado,
Martin, Jose Martin who I think is now with ENB and Felipe Diaz as well.

I would disagree that San Francisco Ballet is "like Joffrey"
with one or two full-length works each season -- make that
American Ballet Theater. If Helgi were to include some
Diaghilev, de Basil or Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo repertoire
in the next few seasons then perhaps SF Ballet could be
considered "like Joffrey." Until Ronn Guidi left Oakland
Ballet as artistic director, that honor goes to the smaller
ensemble across the Bay.

At some point, it would be nice to see some of the early S.F.
Ballet repertoire - Willam and Lew's pieces mounted by the
company and rehearsed by Virginia Johnson, who is authorized to set Lew's works.

Again, the comments are wonderfully rich.

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16-08-01, 08:04 AM (GMT)
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23. "RE: SFB in London"
In response to message #22
   Wow! I love these discussion forums because you can learn so much as Renee's post just demonstrated. The first time I saw the company was during the 1987 rep season before I even liked ballet much, so I hate to admit publically, that I was probably asleep most of the time (if you are connected with the company and are reading this sacrilege, you didn't hear this part!).

I've wondered before about the proportion of San Francisco Ballet school graduates in the Company.

A few seasons ago I was worried that "Filling Station" would seem sort of dated, but even though I suspect some of the cultural references were lost on me, I liked it a lot. It was great fun, but like a lot of the best ballet still touched on some serious issues (like one of my professors says, even in comedy there exists the tragic potential).

I have an analysis of "Bugaku" that I was thinking of posting to get some discussion going. It's sort of longer than the average post, though, because it discusses the post-modernist insights into fundamental dichotomies public vs. private domains. But, Renee's comment on Ann Williams' post on another thread got me thinking about a post-colonialist approach.

Keep up the good work everybody!

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16-08-01, 08:34 AM (GMT)
Click to EMail Viviane Click to send private message to Viviane Click to view user profileClick to add this user to your buddy list  
24. "RE: SFB in London"
In response to message #23
   >Keep up the good work everybody!

Yes, please !
I am enjoying...eh...'speechless'
Can't hardly wait to see them !

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Emma Pegler

16-08-01, 01:42 PM (GMT)
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25. "RE: SFB in London"
In response to message #0
   News on tickets for Saturday is that ticket prices for the best seats have been cut - the matinee prices have been cut from £50 to £39 and the evening seat prices have been cut from £63 to £49.

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Bruce Madmin

17-08-01, 08:47 AM (GMT)
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26. "RE: SFB in London"
In response to message #0
   Evacuation of opera House last night:

Also soemthing on programme 3:

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Bruce Madmin

17-08-01, 09:08 AM (GMT)
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27. "A programme 1 review"
In response to message #0
   Last chancge to see this is tonight - Friday...

Company: San Francisco Ballet
What: Programme 1: Fanfare, A Garden, Magrittomania, Symphony in Three Movements

Where: London, Covent Garden
When: 13 August 2001

In short...
Lots of new work, but SFB's scary dancers make the evening. If you like ballet and dance you should be there. This programme can be seen again Friday Night.

SFB wowed London dance-goers very much in 1999 when they visited Sadler's Wells and this is a much awaited return. It was simple: the dancers were enchanting and the repertoire interesting. How will it pan out this time in the larger Opera House space, with no subsidy, and more expensive seats?

I love Robbins’ sense of offbeat fun in Fanfare where dancers act the parts of the orchestra ­ it’s to Benjamin Britten's "A young Person's Guide to the Orchestra". There is a lot of heraldic pageantry about the place as a narrator opens proceedings before curtain-up and pops up at regular intervals all through. The company is split into the four parts of the orchestra, and then their constituent sub-sections, each getting their own solo. The effect is to introduce the company and dazzle you, not perhaps with wonders of technique, but as an ensemble. A quirky opener - lovely to see now and then, but not too regularly.

A Garden
A new SFB piece by Mark Morris and only premiered in February 2001. No designer is named and it shows in horrid costumes - black, sloppy, loose dresses for the girls and the boys appearing to wear B&Q staff uniform. Choreographically its stronger: a happy clappy piece with the girls in pointe shoes as well (rare for a Morris work I think). The music is pretty much Mark Morris classical - Richard Strauss after François Couperin. Nice enough but I didn't feel I'd really seen anything new from Morris. I am however a relatively new-to-liking-Morris-person so hopefully will be forgiven for missing any obvious brilliance!

By company dancer, Yuri Possokhov, this piece has been much praised in San Francisco and won prizes etc. As you might expect it’s about Renee Margritte the 20th century Belgian surrealist painter who had bowler hats and large green balloons in his paintings. The programme notes this is "Possokhov's highly personal attempt to distil the emotions and impressions generated in him by Margritte's art".

There were some inspired moments but overall I had an indulgent “company choreographic workshop” indulgent about it.. with designs created as a local arts school project so everything got thrown at it! This is all beastly given the praise elsewhere but I couldn't unlock it I'm afraid. The joy of the piece however was Yuan Yuan Tan and Roman Rykine dancing - Tan is amazing plastic technique - a moving sculpture of a woman that demands you follow her. For her I'd see this several times.

Symphony in Three Movements
Balanchine's ponytail ballet and the hit of the evening for me. Wonderful neoclassical choreography coupled with strong casting made for a riposte to the more newly-commissioned works. Balanchine still looks incredibly fresh and incisive even 30 years on. Lucia Lacarra and Yuri Possokhov were the leads - breathtakingly athletic and sharp. She looks like Audrey Hepburn but there is so much steel in there. I was not very impressed by Lacarra in an ENB Nutcracker back in 1997 but in work like this she inspires and scares you witless.

Does it work?
With mixed bills come mixed responses. I enjoyed the night if not all the pieces. The dancers are lovely and there is real privilege in seeing so many new things. Oh that we had companies that could take so much new repertoire abroad...

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Bruce Madmin

17-08-01, 09:14 AM (GMT)
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28. "A Programme 2 review"
In response to message #0
   Night two of the SFB week at the Opera House and there were another group of 4 ballets to see...

A sunny flowing piece for four principal ballerinas by the company’s Artistic Director, Helgi Tomasson, to Dvorák piano pieces. This is ballet pleasant, ballet amicable and even the dancers on stage acknowledge and beam pleasantries at one another.

The meat is a solo for each of the girls accentuating different facets of dance - elongated line, precise and quick footwork etc. But this has evolved and the ballerinas and their costumes add dramatic colour to the work and red becomes a vamp, others being more languid or regal. When dancing altogether they looked a little uncoordinated and Under-rehearsed but the costume and design by Jens-Jacob Worsaae deserve very special mention - the most lovely rich and sumptuous graduated tints on long flowing dresses. Amicable dance, lovely design.

Sea Pictures:
Our own Chris Wheeldon has been doing rather well in the US with commissions from many of the companies and recently was made Resident Choreographer at NYCB. The great thing about the US is that Balanchine (and others I'm sure) established a firm tradition for short works that the major companies continue to run with... and of course it's a great way of growing new talent. Over here mixed bills feature less and I guess if there was one thing that many UK dance fans would really like is to see mixed bills becoming more popular and hence more numerous.

Wheeldon's work to date, as seen in the UK, is usually pure dance whereas Sea Pictures has a pronounced dramatic plot. The music is courtesy of 5 songs, by Elgar, with lyrics by others including Barrett Browning. I often hate music like this, but Elgar is not too heavy and the English words made it easier.

Wheeldon gently steers us through the plot of a fishing community, men going to sea and the drowning of one. Its neither idyllic or incredibly hard-hitting in the telling and the costumes and sepia picture backcloths create a drab, sombre - rather north sea grey day - look.

Wheeldon is a dab hand at pas de deux - very MacMillanesque I thought and I wish he had perhaps given himself time to develop relationships some more. There was also some lovely imaginative work for groups of dancers: I particularly liked his images of waves and sailing for example. Ones reminded of Christopher Bruce's Sergeant Early's Dream - recently revived, which has a similar feel about the sea and leaving, but perhaps with more contrasts - not surprising given Bruce's experience. Sea Pictures started strongly but lost its way a little in the middle and felt about one song too long to me. But that sounds way too hard because this is most accomplished work and SFB have secured a piece that should endure. I look forward to seeing Wheeldon get to do a full-blown dramatic piece at some time but this is good to be going on with!

... or Balanchine goes to Japan for 30 minutes.

A striking set creates a walled courtyard of a performance space into which the dancers ceremonially file down some steps - the action is constrained and concentrated. In fact everything is moderated and ritualised and out of this repression springs the most incredibly sexual pdd. There is no western abandon here, all is measured and yet what goes on in the mind spills out discretely with knowing innocence.

However I'm not sure ballet technique is really so good or appropriate even at showing a culture so different. The highlight in this piece was Yuan Yuan Tan whose limbs are human and yet eerily perfect in the way they move - robots could learn from her!

MacMillan created a Japanese piece - Rituals - some 12 years later (in 1975) and this was recently brought back by RB. The MacMillan is the more captivating I suspect because it doesn't try to use ballet technique to achieve its ends. While I think I'd rapidly tire of the Balanchine, Tan and Karinska costumes were just fine by me for the 30 minutes on Tuesday.

Glass Pieces:
A breathtaking piece by Jerome Robbins to the music of Philip Glass. I've long has a CD called something like "The Essential Philip Glass" and it was strange to see music I've come to know so well (on the M11, M4 and M1!) brought to life with such pacy brilliance.

Robbins always seems to have a very human touch to his work and the contrast with the minimalism of Glass made for riveting viewing. The set is urban white with a squared backcloth and much of the choreography is vital, fast, purposeful but not case-hardened. But the middle section to Façades - which is almost lullaby smooth music at first and yet with an insistent if quite threatening backing beat - gave me one of my very best experiences of the last year. While Muriel Maffre and Pierre-François dance a striking (anything with Maffre is striking) duet out front the corps girls, in silhouette, move across the back of the stage in a long straight line - almost like a line of Christmas trimmings. They enter one at a time - Bayadère like almost and extend slowly across the back of the stage, their routine of small movements so simple, repetitive and utterly mesmerising. Marvellous inventive choreography and design ideas fused with fascinating music. Certainly the best Robbins I've ever seen.

The SFB dancers remain a delight and it’s truly great of the company to bring so much work for us to cast our eager, if critical eyes over. There is Programme 3 to look forward to, but SFB's bringing of Class Pieces alone has cheered me very much, not to mention all the others.

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Bruce Madmin

17-08-01, 07:44 PM (GMT)
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29. "A programmee 3 review"
In response to message #0
   Put on another thread:

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19-08-01, 11:03 PM (GMT)
Click to EMail Viviane Click to send private message to Viviane Click to view user profileClick to add this user to your buddy list  
30. "RE: SFB in London"
In response to message #0
   Just want to share my joy about SFB !
Every miniute was a golden one !
I think going to see them is my best last-minute decision EVER ! (have'nt I said this before ?)

Overwhelming and highclass dancing, splendid choreographies, gems of costumes and....
why has NO-ONE told us that this Company has the most gorgeous and handsome male dancers ?
(well, I didn't saw La Scala !)
What a treat to see so many extremely talented dancers, which Company has 6 principals dancing in one ballet ?

Programme One (Friday 17th.)

I loved "Fanfare" for his wit.
Indeed, this is 'the' ballet to go and see with children.

I was looking forward to see Mark Morris' "A Garden", but for some reason I felt a little bit disappointed about it.
Most of all I was missing 'colour' and (at last from the place I was sitting) the lighting was not good.
The abrupt end made me feel like I had missed out on something...definitely have to see this again.

And then, together with 'Night' in the 3th programme, one of the highlights of my SFB-encounter : "Magrittomania".
Have to admit I was very sceptic about this by forehand : borrowing 'our'Magritte's name and world to call for attention ?
Yuri Possokhov understood Magritte in an extraordinary way and he made a mysterious blend with the elements of his different creative-periods.
His grey and dreadfull environment, his obsession with veiling things, his dramatic and witty series : it was all there.
What a thrill to discover that your favourite painting "Les amants" - is live on stage - and that it inspired to one of the most wonderful pdd I saw in years !
What to say about Yuan, Yuan Tan ? She BECAMES the music !
So, excuse me Bruce to use your forum to send this message to
Mr.Possokhov : " please MORE of this ! What about the "painting in painting"-theme and the pre-war birds for your next creation ? Hmm,....and...ever thought about our Delvaux ? "

There have been written endlessly about Magritte in big, "clever" books, people tried to unravel his ideas and forget that a creation is more than the sum of the elements.
I love this piece, yes please what an idea to "dance" Magritte !
For those who have caught some 'Magritte'-fever : until 23th of September there is an interesting exhibition at the Casino of Knokke (Belgium's'mondain'coast-town).

I loved the Balanchine 'Symphony in three movements' but to me - somehow my enthusiasm for the first-time viewing of the other choreographies overshadowed it this evening.

Programme Three (Saturday 18th, matinée)

The matinee-cast was hallucinant !

Thought "Prism" is a real 'show-off'-piece with...a wealth of dancers.
Fine-detailed costume-designs, wonderful colours and....my,my : what a pianomusic !
Julie Diana was radiant in the First movement.
Thought the combination of Cyril Pierre with the cool elegance of Muriel Maffre in the Second movement a perfect match.
What a partner is Pierre !
The Third movement deserves all superlativs I can find.
This is a very clear choreography and the escalating adding of movements makes it unforgettable.
To me, being -an eternal novice in dance- the repetition of themes and movements are a good help until we have a 'recording'-facility at ROH !

"Night" is my most favourite-choreography of this mixed bill.
Maybe words can't just do this justice....and...eh...can I suggest to make a painting of it ?
Hat-off for these costume-designs.
Strong and fragile at the same time, with a real superb climax-end and such moving dancing !
Julia Adam took us by the hand through this 'nightmare'and guided us very clearly, passing all levels.
Who is still thinking that plotless ballets are always 'difficult to understand' ?

"Chaconne for piano and two dancers" : deserves also a place in my 'treasure-chest'.

The closing-piece "Sandpaper ballet" was one of the reasons I was there.
I adored -again- Morris's way of using symmetry and geometric patterns in his dancing, his ability to 'sprinkle' dancers on the stage in a careless way.
At one time in total generosity and sometimes very measured.
I love his witty dancing, sometimes very crisp, suddenly nearly untidy but always with lots of little precious details.
Started with a basic-square, this stays some kind of 'file-rouge' throughout the choreography.
(And I couldn't push aside reminding countless, ordinary schoolperformances based on this pattern..with some similar 'problems' to keep the troupe together.)
It was really 'show-time' for SFB and the dancers-enjoyement radiated on the audience.
What a perfect timing they showed !

Apart from missing a dear ballet-friend , I had 2 splendid days. And meeting up with Ballet.co-people is always so nice !
Thought that I'd better could go and see SFB in London because I would never go to SF.
But, now I'm thinking : "Never say never"

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Richard J

20-08-01, 02:06 AM (GMT)
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31. "RE: SFB in London"
In response to message #30
   It's been interesting to read the different responses here and in the press to SFB's programmes. I saw prog. 1 on the opening night. I'm glad I wasn't the only one to wonder what had happened to the air-conditioning (wasn't that part of the re-build?). Anyway, Symphony in 3 movements was well worth the wait - it always is, and especially when danced like this, clean and strong, with a dream of a performance for the 2nd movement by Lucia Lacarra and Yuri Possokhov. As for the rest, I'm afraid I was a bit less than overwhelmed, even though this is a company with such a fine standard of dancing. Perhaps I should have said "because this is a company with such a fine standard"; I found that each of the first three pieces had problems which were put into sharp relief by the Stravinsky/Balanchine work.

Fanfare was made very leaden by the presence of the narrator. It would be OK to include the narrator for a performance for very young children, but for an ordinary public performance it would be much better to follow normal concert procedure for this work and omit the chat. By the way, the man in the fancy (i.e. awful) costume left out an important piece of info. near the end, when he should have told us that Purcell's theme re-appears and is combined with Benjamin Britten's fugue. Either he forgot, or (as they say) someone hadn't read the script. If you want to hear the narration well done before an audience of children in a concert performance, Brian Blessed introduced the piece for a performance on video made some years ago by Anglia TV, conducted
by Sir Charles Groves. The Robbins ballet I found to be very twee (choreography and designs - the whole package); Robbins holding back. As it was made for coronation day in 1953 you could be forgiven for thinking that he was on his best behaviour, prim and proper, because that's how British society
was in 1953! It was interesting to see that all the brass were blokes - I wonder about the reaction of any female brass players! That said, Chidozie Nzerem lit up the scene a bit (tuba players usually do), and the deadpan percussion trio must have been so bored counting hundreds of bars of rests; I felt for them. Also, as others have said, Muriel Maffre was something special as the harp. But I was still left thinking of all the other Robbins ballets we could have seen instead.........Not a strong start.

The Morris piece showed, as one would expect, his characteristic sensitivity to the music, but the music was, in a way, the problem. Putting aside the matter of whether or not to use the Strauss re-interpretation of Couperin (Mr Crisp called it 'doughy'), a sequence of baroque dances needs more contrast of treatment I felt. Five of the eight numbers were choreographed for the ensemble; of the other three, one was for ten dancers. The result gave a feeling of over statement, and you sensed that the audience were suddenly woken up by the pdd for no. 7 (minuet) which raised the emotional temperature a bit (applause after that one, I seem to remember).

Many comments have been made about Possokhov's response to Magritte - ballet meets surreal is a nice (and fruitful) collision of art forms. But my complaint concerns the music - an utter mess! What had poor Beethoven done to deserve such treatment? It's OK to assert that surrealism = the whimsical and unexpected, but it's better to ask someone to produce an original and inventive score rather than try to incorporate bits of Beethoven in this clumsy way. (The result, by the way, was no where near as clever as the sort of thing produced by Hoffnung and Victor Borge, and anyway that was just for fun). Best to find out what Satie did in response to the surrealist aesthetic when it first appeared early in the last century before forcing "Fur Elise" into a straight-jacket (the performance required this piece to be played without any rhythmic nuance whatsoever - horrible!).

And so to Stravinsky/Balanchine, which still puts down a marker for the avant-garde, despite being created in 1972. Where Balanchine scores is in his unerring ability to select and respond to concert music which doesn't consist simply of a succession of short pieces. He can take a work which builds longer movements through organic growth and development and make the music visible. His choreography shows awareness of the architecture of a complex score in a way that some aspiring choreographers can only dream of. The terseness and vigour of this piece would have been wonderfully complemented by Robbins' "Afternoon of a Faun" - with Lacarra and Possokhov; if only!

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