Bella Notte: San Francisco Ballet gala

War Memorial Opera House, San Francisco — January 19, 2012

Last Thursday night I went to the San Francisco Ballet opening night gala performance. What an entertaining and inspiring evening of dance!

I went on a totally last-minute decision; even though I had been tempted in the months leading up to it, I thought, well, as I subscriber I see SF Ballet enough that I can save my money, that I don’t need to go to the gala. (Then again when you’re obsessed with something, there’s no talking rationally!) The program and casting were announced a few days beforehand, and I thought, OK, twist my arm, I’ll get a performance-only ticket (i.e., no fancy pre- and post-performance shindigs) and go check it out.

First, the glitz. I threw on my tuxedo–so glad I finally bought one a few years ago–and headed to the Opera House.

Complimentary bubbly? Don’t mind if I do!

Most of the orchestra-level crowd sauntered in well past eight. I assume that one can’t help but dawdle when one has dinner across the street at City Hall and then is greeted by free-flowing Champagne in the lobby.

People-watching from the Ballet Shop on the mezzanine during intermission:

So, the dancing! It was all pretty amazing. I had seen two of the pieces before, and while I’d heard of some of the others, like Balanchine’s Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux, it was the first time I’d seen them performed live. I’m still rusty at writing reviews (and I’ve procrastinated on this post long enough), so I’ll lead you to the San Francisco Chronicle‘s review, which covers all the bases: “Gala’s depth, daring.” (See below for program listing.)

I will say that one of my highlights was the one-two punch of Maria Kochetkova and Joan Boada in Voices of Spring followed by Yuan Yuan Tan and guest star Alexander Riabko in Lady of the Camellias. One so light and exuberant, the other so dark and moving. Also I appreciate them showing off the men (they are inspiring!), especially in the lively men’s section from Classical Symphony and the fun piece Solo, whose lighthearted camaraderie reminded me a bit of Kings of the Dance.

So I think I’m hooked. I went stag this time, but next year I’m bringing Thom and we’ll just have to do the after-party too. Cheers to a new SF Ballet season!

San Francisco Ballet 79th Anniversary Opening Night Gala

Helgi Tomasson, Artistic Director and Principal Choreographer
Martin West, Conductor

Excerpt from Classical Symphony
Composer: Sergei Prokofiev
Choreography: Yuri Possokhov
Jaime Garcia Castilla, Diego Cruz, Isaac Hernandez, Steven Morse, Benjamin Stewart, Matthew Stewart

Pas de deux from The Dance House
Composer: Dmitry Shostakovich
Choreography: David Bintley
Sarah Van Patten, Tiit Helimets, Pascal Molat

Composer: George Frideric Handel
Choreography: Val Caniparoli
Damian Smith

Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux
Composer: Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Choreography: George Balanchine
Vanessa Zahorian, Davit Karapetyan

Pas de deux from Continuum
Composer: Györgi Ligeti
Choreography: Christopher Wheeldon
Sofiane Sylve, Vito Mazzeo

Pas de deux from Flames of Paris
Composer: Boris Assafiev
Choreography: Vassili Vainonen
Frances Chung, Taras Domitro


Composer: Johann Sebastian Bach
Choreography: Hans van Manen
Gennadi Nedvigin, Garen Scribner, Hansuke Yamamoto

San Francisco Ballet Premiere
Voices of Spring
Composer: Johann Strauss II
Choreography: Sir Frederic Ashton
Maria Kotchetkova, Joan Boada

San Francisco Ballet Premiere
Pas de deux from Lady of the Camellias
Composer: Frédéric Chopin
Choreography and Lighting Design: John Neumeier
Yuan Yuan Tan, Alexander Riabko (Guest Artist courtesy of Hamburg Ballet)

Number Nine
Composer: Michael Torke
Choreographer: Christopher Wheeldon
Elana Altman, Dores Andre, Courtney Elizabeth, Dana Genshaft
Isaac Hernandez, Pascal Molat, Ruben Martin, Anthony Spaulding

Clara Blanco, Nicole Ciapponi, Charlene Cohen, Sasha DeSola, Madison Keesler, Mariellen Olson, Shannon Roberts, Danielle Santos
Daniel Baker, Diego Cruz, Steven Morse, Jeremy Rucker, Matthew Stewart, Sebastian Vinet, Quinn Wharton, Luke Willis

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