Monthly Archive for: ‘April, 2013’

Program 7 — San Francisco Ballet Performance

Program 7 — San Francisco Ballet Performance

April 13, 2013



There were three separate ballets on Program 7.  The first was called Criss-Cross, choreographed by Helgi Thomasson.  This is a celebration of beauty and grace, superbly performed by the San Francisco Ballet dancers.  It is lively and energetic.  The first section is done against the music of Domenico Scarlatti, arranged by Charles Avison, and the latter part is done to the music of Arnold Schoenberg, taking off on George Frederic Handel.  You don’t have to think too much for this one.  It is visually interesting and the mood is upbeat.  The highlight for me were the two male-female duets.  The first was beautifully romantic and elegantly performed.  The second one in the latter half of the performance was more somber, almost languid.  The choreographer seemed to be listening to the music when he composed this.  The dance was well suited to the musical score, which is something I like to see.  It is a solid, enjoyable, well-executed performance that does not challenge too much.

The second ballet was Francesca da Rimini, choreographed by Yuri Possokhov.  This was my favorite of the three.  The set, lighting, special effects, costumes and choreography are interesting and imaginative.  The dancing fits well with the music, which gives a feeling of solidity and stability.  This one is supposed to have a minimal story line, although this staging is not concerned over much with telling a story.  It is actually dominated by a duet which is done to powerful effect.  It contrasts with the duets in the previous ballet in that this duet is much less romantic.  It is sensual, even lurid.  One does not get any sense of an illicit affair in this performance, which is the original story line.  Supposedly Francesca falls in love with Paolo, the younger brother of her husband, Gianciotto, who is supposed to be ugly and crippled.  The tall, robust dancer who plays Gianciotto, Vito Mazzeo, doesn’t exactly fit that description.  He does discover the lovers and murders them, true to the original script, but then Possokhov gives it a twist, which I think is a great improvement.  Instead of the adulterous couple being consigned to Hell, as in Dante’s Inferno, Gianciotto, the jealous murderer is dragged off to Hell.  I like Possokhov’s conception better and congratulate him on his modification of the story.

The Symphony in Three Movements by Igor Stravinsky rounds out the program.  It is choreographed by George Balanchine.  It is imaginatively done, with lots of visual activity and interesting configurations that blend and morph in interesting ways.  This is one where the dance does not well reflect the mood and temper of the underlying music.  There is a lot of distress in this music, but the choreography seems oblivious to it.  The choreographer seemed to have his own agenda and he wasn’t going to let the music get in the way of it.   The dancing is generally more positive and energetic than the music.  This one is interesting to watch.  It has complexity and many different elements that work together smoothly.  It is well thought out from the point of view of the choreography, but it was clearly not conceived from the music as the starting point.  I had the sense that the dancers like doing this one.  I could feel a vigor and enthusiasm from them that seemed inspired by the work itself.  This seems to be one they would choose to do themselves.

Generally an enjoyable, stimulating performance with lots of visual interest, imaginative staging, good positive energy and first rate dancing by the San Francisco Ballet dancers.

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