San Francisco Ballet
SFB Jewels (prog 4) review
March 12, March 17 Matinee
Composers: Gabriel Faure, Igor Stravinsky, Pytor I. Tchaikovsky
Choreographer: George Balanchine
Joanna Berman/Cyril Pierre (3/12, 3/17)
Julie Diana, Damian Smith (3/12)
Leslie Young, Zachary Hench (3,17)
Sherri Le Blanc, Catherine Baker, Parrish Maynard (3/12)
Sherri Le Blanc, Vanessa Zahorian, Hansuke Yamamoto (3/17)
Tina LeBlanc, Gonzalo Garcia (3/12)
Muriel Maffre (3/12, 3/17)
Kristin Long, Stephen Le Gate (3/17)
Yuan Yuan Tan, Roman Rykin (3/12, 3/17)
Program 4 had enticing casting. Sergio Terrado and Hansuke Yamamoto were featured in the trio of Emeralds, but I saw only Yamamoto. Yuri Possokhov and Lorena Feijoo were paired in Emeralds and in Rubies; Vanessa Zahorian and Gennadi Nedveguine did the lead roles in Rubies. Both Yuan Yuan Tan and Leslie Young danced the solo role in Rubies and Cyril Pierre and Lucia La Carra essayed Diamonds. Katita Waldo and Stephen Legate as well as Muriel Maffre and Damian Smith danced the second leads in Emeralds. With La Carra and Pierre scheduled to join the Bavarian State Opera Ballet and a rumor that Roman Rykin will be joining Boston Ballet, solo and principal categories are opening up, and it seems logical that Helgi Tomasson is looking within as well as outside the company to see who can be promoted or engaged.
Tickets were so scarce it was only by luck I got a balcony circle seat for the St. Patrick’s Day matinee. Returning to ceiling provided me with a terrific position to observe the pristine lines of Balanchine’s choreography and the spiky, confectioner’s quality of dancers en pointe seen from a distance. It was all very instructive, and I found myself supplying orchestra seat knowledge to a position next to the Gods.
It’s easy to see why Joanna Berman and Lorena Feijoo were chosen for Emeralds. They possess fluid port de bras, a certain softness in their carriage and a warmth which lends itself to the role which was mounted on Violette Verdy and partnered by Conrad Ludlow, one of San Francisco Ballet’s gifts to New York City Ballet. It is low keyed, and remains so with the male principals a focus rather than stellar by themselves as seen in Rubies and Diamonds. Edward Villella said of the second leads that the woman is supposed to be dreaming of the man, rather than actually dancing with him. Diana and Smith managed to convey a dreamy quality if not exactly one of sleep walking. In the pas de trois Hansuke Yamamoto acquitted himself very well, with clean lines, sure phrasing and nice jumps. He also landed without noise, no small feat. I preferred Yamamoto’s variations to those of Parrish Maynard who tends to overextend some of his jetes for a second or two look very wobbly. Among the members of the pas de trois, Sherri Le Blanc seemed both here and in Diamonds to be totally dancing, the movements inflected from head through torso with enjoyment, phrasing joyously to the music.
In Rubies, the Villella role was remarkably personified by Gonzalo Garcia’s performance. I saw in his insouciance the raffishness and New York energy which must have permeated the original creation seemed to find a new interpreter. Garcia was thoroughly engaging and direct in his impact, and his technique is assured, brilliance and is tossed off with ease. Legate has danced it with Cisneros, with a wonderful impression. I felt that both Tina Le Blanc and Kristin Long were less the sexually assured females than they might have been. Hard to say what Yuan Yuan Tan made of the second lead. I have seen Leslie Young dance it with aplomb; it helped her gain soloist status. Muriel Maffre was simply outstanding, the length of leg and arm accenting the jazzy impact of Stravinsky’s score.
When it came to Diamonds, I don't see how Yuan Yuan Tan and Roman Rykin could be improved upon. Tan moves with seeming effortlessness, her line sketching space with the authority of a master calligrapher. Rykin was clearly inspired by the Tchaikovsky music and the feeling of Balanchine’s homage to his St. Petersburg heritage. The two reflected the great tradition with considerable aplomb. The movement of the corps in this piece is singularly exciting to see way far up.
The 2003 season will feature the work again. It will be fascinating to see how the company responds to its second series of performances.