Burning bright

War Memorial Opera House, San Francisco — March 23, 2012

I went to see San Francisco Ballet‘s Program 6 last Friday night: Raymonda Act III (Nureyev), RAkU (Possokhov), and the world premiere of Guide to Strange Places (Page).

Raymonda was a glittering gala with Sofiane Sylve in command, and Guide to Strange Places was a striking work that I’d like to see again, but that evening I was completely blown away by RAkU. It was so dramatic and powerful that even after the intermission I was still reeling from the emotional punch. Yuan Yuan Tan, who is of course lovely and haunting in everything, was no less perfect here.

RAkU premiered last year but I didn’t see it then, so I’m glad it was programmed again this year. And I felt like I had an additional musical appreciation of RAkU thanks to the Ballet 101 talk I attended (which, yes, I need to blog about) with composer Shinji Eshima and conductor Martin West. By the way, the ballet orchestra has just released a recording of the score.

The story of RAkU is based on the burning of Kyoto’s Golden Pavilion in 1950, but set earlier in the samurai era. Here are excerpts featuring Yuan Yuan Tan and Damian Smith, and a short interview with Yuan Yuan Tan:

Amazing. Definitely see RAkU if you can. Remaining performances for Program 6 are tomorrow afternoon and evening, March 31; and Tuesday evening, April 3. The main cast I saw on March 23 is listed below:

San Francisco Ballet
Program 6 — March 23, 2012

Raymonda Act III
Composer: Alexander Glazunov
Choreographer: Rudolf Nureyev after Marius Petipa

Raymonda: Sofiane Sylve
Jean de Brienne: Tiit Helimets
Countess Sybille: Elana Altman
King of Hungary: Pierre-François Vilanoba
1st solo: Sarah Van Patten
2nd solo: Frances Chung
3rd solo: Vanessa Zahorian
Pas de Trois: Dores Andre, Nicole Ciapponi, Courtney Elizabeth
Pas de Quatre: Daniel Deivison-Oliveira, Isaac Hernandez, Steven Morse, Hansuke Yamamoto
4th solo: Charlene Cohen


Composer: Shinji Eshima
Choreographer: Yuri Possokhov

Yuan Yuan Tan, Damian Smith
Pascal Molat


Guide to Strange Places
Composer: John Adams
Choreographer: Ashley Page

Frances Chung, Pascal Molat
Vanessa Zahorian, Jaime Garcia Castilla
Maria Kochetkova, Gennadi Nedvigin
Sarah Van Patten, Anthony Spaulding

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