Reading about the defile at Palais Garnier, I would wish the same for the San Francisco students. Alas, we are raw-boned by comparison and are likely to remain so, particularly since our major ballet schools are not government subsidized.
From the tiny tots to those with contracts or further studies in their plans, these two days gave them a chance to perform twice before eyes both prejudiced and judicious. Except for the senior students, most of the boys and the young men performed,sober as judges.The young women presented themselves with considerable poise,every once and a while amazing musicality. A couple of the young girls are already strong performers and there is a young 14 year old male who bears watching.
After the youngsters finished, the young men in Group VIII performed an Hispanic-laced number, complete with syncopated jaleo, and chairs created for them by Jorge Esquivel, Alonso's
one-time partner. Except for their sobriety, the response and display were excellent.
After a short pause, the senior students gave the audience Lew Christensen's Con Amore, the 1953 romp to Rossini overtures which
spoofed Romantic Era librettos with decided wit. In Scene I, The Amazons and the Thief, Kayoko Everhart,a young Maria Tallchief look alike, shared the role of the Amazon Captain with Elizabeth Epsen and Misha Braun and Jesse Marks did likewise as The Thief.The lieutenants were Stanisha Grosch, Katie Gibson, Stephanie Orza and Megan Coats. Everhart and Braun attacked the role with considerable verve, while Epsen and Braun played it up dramatically, their reactions taking some cues from a brief visit by original cast members.
Came Scene II, The Master's Return, the fellows had the fun of remaining in the same roles both evenings, plus a student performance and the snippet for the Bay Area Dancing excerpt. Aaron Thayer, who goes to Cincinnati Ballet, was the Husband. The assignment of The lavendar-clad Rake went to Maximillian Baud who is off toNorth Carolina School of the Arts Baud played it with vaudevilian fervor. Chauvin Muniz gave us a very eager, tatooed sailor and Randolph Ward, off for Ballet Met, quivered his elegant long legs as the Student.Courtney Elizabeth and Ashley Ivory threw suitable tantrums and flirty looks as The Mistress, and thirteen-year old Courtney Hellebuyck made a bright and gently bubbly Amor who sets the emotions right before she stakes her claim to the studen.Her dancing reminded at least two of us of Virginia Johnson as the original young fixit. I think Lew Christensen would have felt his nearly fifty year old work was in excellent hands.
Julia Adam contributed Won for the students to music by Matthew Pierce, providing the students with the challenge of repetition and syncopation, each coming progressively from up stage left,
each one closer to the foots, crossing in horizontal lines. They repeated their movements while the next on stage was given a different pattern. The progression was slow enough to provide a layered feeling of multiple activity when all seven had emerged from the wings.I would like to have see this development a tad shorter. Adam did extremely well by her utilization of Randolph Ward,whose partnering and performance returned the compliment admirably. I'm sorry he is not joining the San Francisco company.
No explanation was supplied for the ballet's title.
The Czardas from Coppelia lacked live music and suffered because of it, for the students lacked enough familiarity to compensate for the rigid tempo. The Waltz from Coppelia was notable primarily for its use of the little girls.
Peter Brandenhoff, San Francisco Ballet's soloist who trained at the Royal Danish Ballet, staged excerpts from Napoli, assisted by Jocelyn Vollmar's coaching of the girls. While the crispness flagged at points, Brandenhoff elicited the spirit and the interaction from the men. He should be invited to work with the senior students more often, for there is nothing more engaging for the spirit than to watch a good Bournonville renverse attitude.
This year the general feeling of the performances enjoyed a greater coherence. It is particularly nice to see the students get some exposure to demi charactere work, a comparatively rare commodity in most company repertoires these days. The progress was warmly applauded.