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Subject: "SFB in London - Programme 2 thoughts..." Archived thread - Read only
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Conferences What's Happening Topic #1984
Reading Topic #1984
Bruce Madmin

11-08-01, 05:50 PM (GMT)
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"SFB in London - Programme 2 thoughts..."
Renee Renouf, our West Cost reviewer, has reviewed practically all of the pieces that San Francisco Ballet are bringing to Covent Garden... except they have all been danced in rather different mixed bills to the combinations we are seeing.

I thought it would be rather neat to cut and paste some of our Ballet.co reviews to give you a pretty convincing foretaste of the various programmes.

To avoid having lots of threads potentially 'on the go' at the same time I'm locking these threads - thoughts and debate on the actual SFB London performances are actively welcomed and should be on the SFB in London thread.

Finally, for those who want to really do their homework, here is a link to a complete list of Renee Renouf reviews.

Thank you - Ed


SFB in London, Programme 2 'review' thoughts...

Sea Pictures
Composer: Edward Elgar
Choreographer: Christopher Wheeldon
Costumes: Holly Hynes
Lighting: Lisa J. Pinkham
Mezzo-Soprano: Malin Fritz
(from the March 2001 Ballet.co Magazine)

Wheeldon’s mixture of sombre sea life and the lovers attached to it evokes less of Tudor’s austere Dark Elegies than Ashton’s musicality over which Wheeldon’s own romantic lyric streak plays a dominant melody. The reality of men going to sea with one man dying is more believable than the reaction allotted to the woman bereft. Elgar’s four songs are simply too lyric in quality, demanding phrasing and posture which dominate the emotion. Still the combination works pleasantly, and who can withhold empathy when it is Yuri Possokhov as the doomed figure? Particularly appealing were Vanessa Zahorian and Pierre-Francois Vilanoba as the couple supporting Tina Le Blanc in the final song.

LeBlanc, replacing Joanna Berman this season, used her steely technique to attack the grief she must face, contain, surmount. Her tiny frame gave wings to her anguish. You can just picture her facing Poisedon, exclaiming "How Dare you do this to us?" ready to argue for her lover’s life.

Despite the muted interpretation of sea life, Sea Pictures possesses an admirable flair for groupings, particularly in the play of the men with Possokhov and the darting image of Le Blanc moving against the reunited couples.

Music: Toshiro Mayuzumi
Choreography George Balanchine
Staged: Elyse Borne with coaching by Allegra Kent
Scenic Design: David Hays
Costume Design: Karinska
March 7: Muriel Maffre, Cyril Pierre
March 16: Lucia La Carra, David Palmer
(from the April 2001 Ballet.co Magazine)

To deal with the silliest first, the matter of Bugaku. Everything about the production and the execution is so totally handsome, the set, the lighting, the costuming and the dancers, for a total anthropological horror.

Dear Mr. Balanchine. He saw the lofty, remote all male dance form of Bugaku when the Imperial Household Musicians of Japan toured the United States, managed by David Garfias and his wife Yoko Tahara. This form, with roots in Buddhist practice from China, Korea and India, has red and green forms for dances of the Right and Left; please don't ask me which is which. Masks, helmets, bulky boots and costumes of heavy brocade and embroidery provide the surface for carefully symmetrical dances, usually done by two groups of four men on a raised platform within the Imperial Household Ground. The musicians are hereditary. I have been privileged to meet and converse with one of them, Suenobu Togi, who taught the gagaku ensemble for a number of years at the U.C.L.A. Department of Ethnomusicology. During an interview with me in 1968 Togi-san remarked casually, 'My family belonged to the Left and it moved over to the Right, about 900 years ago.' Hearing such a statement, it's obvious I might choke or sputter seeing what Mr. Balanchine made of this austere and ritualistic tradition: an elevated exercise in pseudo-Japanese kama sutra practice.

With the aid of Carolyn Carvajal March 16, who identified the ballet's vintage by its bikini style, I began to see the work as pretty silly, even though it was considered quite sexy when first performed. But the thought of the company's extraordinary skill and care going into such a pastiche simply speaks to Mr. Balanchine's conditioning as a Russian in exoticizing the East, never mind any bow to ethnic accuracy.

Deliberation ballet can muster, a lower center of gravity its exponents try to avoid. But the movement of the samurai does indeed require a lowered center to be convincingly macho, Japanese style. While elegant Cyril Pierre could not muster this physical rootedness; David Palmer could and did. In the matter of the women, both La Carra and Maffre were excellent. If La Carra looked more like the Western image of Cho Cho San, Maffre exuded a certain knowledge of protocol as well as the underlying drive to couple

Glass Pieces
Music: Philip Glass
Choreography: Jerome Robbins
Dancers: Yuan Yuan Tan; Yuri Possokhov
(from the March 2001 Ballet.co Magazine)

The first set of soloists, Vadim Solomakha and Leslie Young, cross is semi-staggered strides. They wear pale yellow unitards, and their arms are swinging freely from the socket into alternate diagonal reaches, like momentary pledges from left to right. They are followed by Claudia Alfieri and Damian Smith in peach/apricot tones, the corps still moving across in contrast. Then Sherri LeBlanc and Parrish Maynard arrive in mint green. I have a note that the girls move, supported, like Squeegees across the stage.

Katita Waldo and Stephen Legate, first cast, dance on a stage notable for being side lit. The main memory is that she moves a lot from supported developpes forward into sudden ecarte or efface fourth positions, always amplifying the minimal tones of Robbins.

It begins to look like Robbins aimed to replicate the technique, the repetition by which glass is itself fashioned, becomes transparent, symbolizing energy encased. In the final number when Michael Eaton comes out in the first trio, followed by Ikolo Griffin in the second set of trios, soon joined by Peter Brandenhoff and Chidozie Nzerem, marching in a circular movement - one-two-three- accent, and now in costumes with coherence if different colored tops - that the heat's on and the annealing process is at its peak. The girls now follow, then there is repetition and then the principal statement reaches its peak before -- quick blackout! Robbins obviously knows a thing or two about cohesion.

Tan and Possokhov, second cast, are a formidable couple. I have seen them in "Othello," but here in Jerome Robbins their classical training and sense of form were simply breathtaking. What is it, I wonder, about certain artists who are so unique that they can imagine themselves into a piece of choreography so that they personify and transcend the structure at the same time. Well, these two did it with an amplitude and courtesy to themselves, each other and to space which sculpted their assignments with deceptive ease.

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