Monthly Archive for: ‘January, 2017’

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San Francisco Ballet Program 1: The Joy of Dance

Above: Dores André, Wei Wang and Joseph Walsh in Bubenícek’s Fragile Vessels. (Photo© Erik Tomasson)

San Francisco Ballet at its Best!

Maria Kochetkova and Max Cauthorn in Tomasson's Haffner Symphony. (© Erik Tomasson)

Maria Kochetkova and Max Cauthorn in Tomasson’s Haffner Symphony.
(Photo © Erik Tomasson)

San Francisco Ballet’s 84th Repertory Season opened with Program 1: The Joy of Dance in January 2017 with three pieces, including one World Premiere by different choreographers.

SF Ballet Artistic Director Helgi Tomasson also choreographed the first ballet of the evening: Haffner Symphony set to music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. On January 27th Principal Dancers Sasha De Sola and Carlo Di Lanno led the ensemble with their strong compelling presence and precision.

The beautiful set of forest green pastoral imagery with long floor to ceiling green curtains on either side of the stage, the rich velvet and brocade costumes (Scenic and Costume Design by Santo Loquasto) and warm lighting (Lighting Design by Thomas R. Skelton) revealed a wonderful vision of color and texture. This is a well mannered and elegant ballet danced to Mozart’s majestic music, conducted by Martin West. The traditional choreography comprises gracious lifts, one or two witty moments and fluid movement, which builds well with the entire ensemble onstage for the final 4th Movement.

Koto Ishihara, Francisco Mungamba and Wei Wang in Bubenícek's Fragile Vessels. (© Erik Tomasson)

Koto Ishihara, Francisco Mungamba and Wei Wang in Bubenícek’s Fragile Vessels.
(Photo © Erik Tomasson)

The World Premiere of Fragile Vessels choreographed by Jiří Bubeníček set to music by Sergei Rachmaninov, conducted by Martin West, featuring pianist Mungunchimeg Buriad. This is a very strong piece and shows the San Francisco Ballet at its best. Complemented by a stunning set (Scenic Design by Otto Bubeníček) and lighting (Lighting Design by Jim French), comprising champagne and yellow to gray to black lighting and two huge sculptured 3D curves suspended that span half of the stage width. Visceral couples move across the stage like a wave.

San Francisco Ballet in Buben’ícek's Fragile Vessels. (© Erik Tomasson)San Francisco Ballet in Buben’ícek’s Fragile Vessels.
(Photo © Erik Tomasson)

The choreography is sensual with some interesting leg positions on lifts, feet together with legs open. Costumes of sleeveless unitards of various colors with nude sections (Costume Design by Uroš Bubeníček) add to the delicateness and drama of the setting and rousing music. Bubeníček’s mise en scène is wonderful as pairs stride, do muscular lifts and gentle skids. Part way through one of the curves disappears leaving one that looks like a sail. The work is intimate, expressive, well danced and produced, and a joy to watch.

San Francisco Ballet in Peck's In The Countenance Of Kings. (© Erik Tomasson)

San Francisco Ballet in Peck’s In The Countenance Of Kings. (Photo © Erik Tomasson)

The third and final piece of the evening, In the Countenance of Kings, is choreographed by Justin Peck and set to music composed by and with Original Orchestration by Sufjan Stevens, with Orchestration for San Francisco Ballet by Michael P. Atkinson, conducted by Ming Luke. The fanfares against an all white backdrop start with dancers in a cluster wearing black tights, or skirts and colored tops (Costume Design by Ellen Warren) as the light goes from white to dark gray (Lighting Design by Brandon Stirling Baker). Lovely melodic piano music with choreography showing wonderful control and then freedom of movement by the characters Quantus (Isabella DeVito, Electress (Maria Kochetkova) and Botanica (Lauren Strongin), The Protagonist (Francisco Mungamba), The Foil (James Sofranko) and The Hero (Henry Sidford). The Corps playing The School of Thought is especially strong when they move in a diagonal with graceful outstretched arms – and in dramatic moments as the music changes to piano and soft percussion. In a modern dance style the quality of the dance is subtle, quick, light and fluid and showed fascinating interactions between dancers, with an especially exquisite unison of the male and female groupings.

San Francisco Ballet Program 1 shows SF Ballet at it’s best!

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Jo Tomalin, Ph.D. reviews Dance, Theatre & Physical Theatre Performances
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