Jo Tomalin

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San Francisco Ballet in McIntyre's The Big Hunger Photo Credit © Erik Tomasson

San Francisco Ballet: Dance Innovations – Program 3

Above: San Francisco Ballet in McIntyre’s The Big Hunger – Photo Credit © Erik Tomasson
San Francisco Ballet in Liang's The Infinite Ocean Photo Credit © Erik Tomasson

San Francisco Ballet in Liang’s The Infinite Ocean Photo Credit © Erik Tomasson

San Francisco Ballet presented Program 3: February 13-23, 2020 at the War Memorial Opera House, San Francisco. Program 3 comprises three pieces: The Infinite Ocean, World Premiere – The Big Hunger, and Etudes Ballet by Harald Lander.

Yuan Yuan Tan and Carlo Di Lanno in Liang's The Infinite Ocean Photo Credit © Erik Tomasson

Yuan Yuan Tan and Carlo Di Lanno in Liang’s The Infinite Ocean Photo Credit © Erik Tomasson

Choreographed by Edwaard Liang and set to music composed by Oliver Davis, The Infinite Ocean is a ballet for twelve dancers about the questions and relationships one might ask concerning the transition between life and death. The first moment when the ensemble is on the dramatic ramped stage of scenic designer Alexander V. Nichols and is enveloped in brilliant warm persimmon glow by lighting designer James F. Ingalls, is visually stunning. The group of transitioners huddle, entangle then come and go in varying combinations, each seeking answers. Standouts are the duets – beautiful and romantic between Sofiane Sylve and Tiit Helimets and the ethereal lifts and rapturous poignancy of Yuan Yuan Tan and Carlo Di Lanno. Featuring violin by Cordula Marks.

Dores André and Benjamin Freemantle in McIntyre's The Big Hunger Photo Credit © Erik Tomasson

Dores André and Benjamin Freemantle in McIntyre’s The Big Hunger Photo Credit © Erik Tomasson

The Big Hunger (World premiere: February 13, 2020 – San Francisco Ballet, War Memorial Opera House, San Francisco) choreographed by Trey McIntyre and set to music composed by Sergei Prokofiev is exciting and gloriously unpredictable, with wit, intensity and curious characters. The story encompasses several themes around life and how humans search for a purpose for three couples and a male corps de ballet – who first appear in hot pink wigs and white leotards and then change rapidly into variations of colors and costumes. The set is tall and all black with a red Exit sign, several doors and openings that transform through the ballet and this set is a main character and driving force of the story, with scenic and costume design by Thomas Mike.

Wei Wang and Esteban Hernandez in McIntyre's The Big Hunger Photo Credit © Erik Tomasson

Wei Wang and Esteban Hernandez in McIntyre’s The Big Hunger Photo Credit © Erik Tomasson

The two duets of Dores André with Benjamin Freemantle – and Jennifer Stahl with Luke Ingham – are outstanding with intricate choreography and emotional depth of mood that advance the storytelling. Later in the ballet the duet of two male dancers – Esteban Hernandez and Wei Wang is utterly beguiling, and not to be missed. Piano by Yekwon Sunwoo for this performance.

Sasha De Sola in Lander's Etudes Photo Credit © Erik Tomasson

Sasha De Sola in Lander’s Etudes Photo Credit © Erik Tomasson

Etudes Ballet by Harald Lander, who is the choreographer of this ballet is set to music composed by Knudåge Riisager after Carl Czerny. A large ensemble perform a traditional daily ballet class with creative theatrical mise en scène, staged by Johnny Eliassen. It is a journey through the sequences and routines such as barre and open floor work with precise footwork and arabesques – all danced with ultimate rigor, grace and finesse. Seeing the more than forty dancers that fill the stage in this ballet is an exciting and remarkable vision, featuring brilliant solos by Sasha De Sola, Angelo Greco, Joseph Walsh and Carlo Di Lanno. Lighting design by Harald Lander and Craig J. Miller.

The San Francisco Orchestra was conducted by Martin West for the program.

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