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 --oOo--
SFB in London, Programme 3 'review' thoughts...
Composer: Ludwig Van Beethoven
Choreographer: Helgi Tomasson
Costumes: Martin Pakledinaz
Lighting: Mark Stanley Staging: Christine Redpath
Pianist: Roy Bogas
(from the March 2001 Ballet.co Magazine)
Prism may well be for Helgi Tomasson what Symphony in C was for George Balanchine, a joyous signature piece to which audiences will return with anticipation, leave with contentment and satisfaction, a perennial work. With an pianist like Roy Bogas, that possibility is reinforced.
Premiered on New York City Ballet when the company was occupied in the Discovery Program, the ballet seems crafted for Tomassonís singular dancers. He doubtless kept them in mind while revisiting a major Manhattan artistic crucible. The first movement in the initial performance was accomplished by Kristin Long with Zachary Hench and Vadim Solomakha remaining into the next casting with Julie Diana. Yuan Yuan Tan and Pierre Francois Vilanoba replaced Lucia La Carra and Cyril Pierre in the second movement. Muriel Maffre and Benjamin Pierce also essayed this lengthy pas de deux. For the third movement Gonzalo Garcia shared honors with Gennadi Nedviguine.
Excepting the bravura turns allotted to Garcia and Neviguine, the ballet seemed deceptively simple, echoing the interplay between piano and orchestra, between ornamentation and lyric expositions on the keyboard itself. All seemed carried by the impulse to explore an inspired moment, suggesting, "Letís try!", launching images beyond their parts, the line etched lucidly, truly culminating in prismatic visual refractions of music.
Julie Diana, who engages an audience while being totally within her assignment, reflected not only her innate musicality and graciousness, but reminded us that her formative training was in the Balanchine tradition. She has given us superb dramatic interpretations. Here Diana was a ballerina reminding me of the heady days watching Tallchief, Wilde, LeClerq and Adams all on one program. What a gift to have those reflections evoked!
Vadim Solomakha and Zachary Hench provided admirable support, correct deportment and unequivocal line, but were not required to do much more. I got the feeling Tomasson was saying, "Wait and see, Iím not finished yet."
Vilanoba may have been partnering Yuan Yuan Tan for the first time, the results intriguing but tentative. Her half smile had never seemed so satisfied or feline. As Yuan Yuan unfolded battements a la seconde, closing pointes in fifth position or assuming a turning arabesque, she was totally in the moment, reigning supreme, happy in the music, with a spatial distance evoking a traditional sumi brush painting on silk. Vilanoba seemed equally concerned with the correct display and reflection of the ballerina, port de bras reinforcing line, pose, music, style. I felt the observer of two superb exponents of two great cultures: Le Chine et La France, matched in height, quality, approach. They drew one to the music, while reflecting separate pools of concentration. Beautifully executed, the chemistry has yet to emerge.
After two movements with the ballerina fully displayed, Tomasson graphically reminded us ballet was formed by male virtuosi and the company has several such dancers. With his own bravura history as impetus, he provided a sizeable choreographic affirmation, allotted first to Gonzalo Garcia. Guennadi Neviguine was the soloist I saw, that secure, sunny, self-contained exponent from Russia. Both possessed of superb ballon and stylistic finish, Tomasson must enjoy having the human resources to display Vive La Difference with such obvious skill and variety. It makes Prism appear a creation of utter ease.
Composer: Matthew Pierce
Choreography: Julia Adam
Costumes Benjamin Pierce
Lighting: Lisa J. Pinkham
(from the June 2001 Ballet.co Magazine)
This is the ballet that was the clearest hit of the Discovery Program and prompted Jerry Arpino to commission Adam to create a work for the Chicago Joffrey Ballet.
As I may have written before, Adam had the perspicacity to tap into the universal human experience of the nightmare. Aligning oneís self with the collective unconscious is bound to make any one respond, and she does an excellent job with it. She also chose an incredible artist as her protagonist, Tina LeBlanc, whose skill and size admitted of almost any inflection of the mental maze, manipulation and the horrendous experience of sonomulent exhaustion and frustration, which climaxes the piece. The lead must carry the piece as surely as anyone attempting Giselle or Swan Lake.
The music is in the minimalist tradition, slowly making its effect by repetition and ever so slight variations and emphasis. Several men, hunched over on all fours form the initial bed from which the heroine rises, dances with the man in her dreams, and then encounters three women in a diaphanous tube, garbed in semi-classical Grecian style, off beat versions of the three Fates/ Graces, whatever the context provides.
Then the bed breaks up into four male figures who move around and frustrate her attempts to reach her dream hero. The level is getting higher, and the heroine begins climbing and falling back, climbing and falling back as the stage is suddenly blacked out and the audience, in utter relief, begins to clap madly.
For the final matinee of this program Vanessa Zahorian, ably supported by Benjamin Pierce, made her debut in the role which has been singularly Tinaís throughout both seasons. She has the same straightforward attack, a fresh, steady regard, and is slightly taller. Her interpretation is tentative, but moments occurred when Zahorian was truly regarding her inner landscape in a manner distinctly her own, a distinct sign of promise.
Music: Leroy Anderson
Choreography Marc Morris
Costumes: Isaac Mizrahi
Lighting: James F. Ingalls
(from the November 1999 Ballet.co Magazine)
The evening ended with Mark Morris's riotously entertaining 'Sandpaper Ballet'. If anything proves his choreographic genious, oddly, I think this ballet does. It is completely original, beautifully faithful to the Leroy Anderson music ('Hello, it's lovely weather for a sleigh-ride together..' etc) and enormous, cheeky fun. The point to note, however, is the disciplined excellence of the whole company of dancers, who perform alternately like Broadway hoofers and classical corps de ballet members without missing a beat. Their silly green costumes, complete with long gloves, made us love them all the more.
A memorable evening, though perhaps sad because you can't help thinking wistfully 'When will they come again?'