Serenade, RAkU, Lambarena: SF Ballet Program 1

War Memorial Opera House — San Francisco, January 30, 2015

When I go out to watch ballet, my first question of course is… which bow tie to wear? As Serenade was on the program, the clear answer is:

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Infinite Romance: San Francisco Ballet gala 2015

War Memorial Opera House, San Francisco — January 22, 2015

Just a quick recap: last week Thom and I went to San Francisco Ballet’s opening gala, which celebrates Helgi Tomasson’s 30th year as artistic director. It was a finely tuned program with something for everyone (see below), ranging from classic pas de deux to abstract new work, and even a Paris Opera Ballet-like défilé that showed off the entire company and school in one family portrait.

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Light and dark: San Francisco Ballet Program 7

War Memorial Opera House — April 21, 2013

Here are my collected tweets from last Sunday’s performance of San Francisco Ballet Program 7, which included Criss-Cross (Helgi Tomasson), Francesca da Rimini (Yuri Possokhov), and Symphony in Three Movements (George Balanchine).

It was principal dancer Pierre-François Vilanoba’s retirement performance; my San Francisco Ballet season subscription is regularly on Fridays, but for Program 7 I changed to this performance especially to see him dance and bid him farewell. Before the performance he did the Meet the Artist interview with Cheryl Ossola:

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Smuin Ballet’s energetic season opener

Palace of Fine Arts Theatre, San Francisco — October 5, 2012

Smuin Ballet is one of my favorite dance companies here in the Bay Area, so I’d been eagerly awaiting their new season. And when they announced the return of Trey McIntyre‘s Oh, Inverted World (to the music of The Shins), I was over the moon, since I had missed its premiere in 2010. Their opening night last Friday did not disappoint. Once again, my collected tweets:

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‘Sketch 2: The Women Choreographers’

ODC Theater, San Francisco — August 2, 2012

Amy Seiwert‘s Imagery presents Sketch 2: The Women Choreographers, a program of three new contemporary ballet pieces developed with the company by Gina Patterson, Julia Adam, and Amy Seiwert. My very quick Twitter takes from Thursday’s sold-out opening night:

Here is a bit of rehearsal footage of Sarah and Weston in their captivating pas de deux from In the Time:

I enjoyed all the pieces, and Sleep Sketches was a nice whimsical counterpoint to the other two more sober dances. The final performance of the program is tonight, Saturday, August 4 at 8 p.m. at ODC Theater, San Francisco (tickets).

ยป See also Facebook album of performance photos; Carla Escoda’s preview on Huffington Post (“Storming the citadel“) and Allan Ulrich’s review in the San Francisco Chronicle (“Seiwert ‘sketch’ riveting“).

Program notes are below:

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Post:Ballet presents ‘Triads’

Herbst Theatre, San Francisco — July 21, 2012

A quick-bite review: Founded in 2009 by dancer and choreographer Robert Dekkers, innovative dance company Post:Ballet capped its third season with a program entitled Triads, consisting of four pieces, including a world premiere. The first half of the program (sensual Mine Is Yours and darkly whimsical Happy Ending) was beautiful but left me a little cold and puzzled. It was the second half that delivered. A pas de deux from Interference Pattern felt intimate and honest; Jonathan Mangosing and Christian Squires were a pleasure to watch. When in Doubt, whose original score included recorded spoken word from the dancers themselves, had depth both in choreography and meaning.

Kudos to Robert Dekkers for taking risks and pushing the ballet envelope. This was my first full evening of Post:Ballet, and I look forward to many more seasons of interesting, imaginative dance. (I also have to say I love the styling of their new headshots!)

Post-performance Q&A with Post:Ballet dancers and collaborators

Post:Ballet director Robert Dekkers

» See also: Post:Ballet Facebook page, and Triads reviews from the San Francisco Chronicle and California Literary Review.

Program listing and video excerpts are below:

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Dance diversity at Dance/USA

Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco — June 28, 2012

I am continually amazed not just at the amount of dance being performed in the Bay Area but also at its diversity, which was showcased recently at a couple of performances produced in conjunction with the Dance/USA annual conference, held in San Francisco last week.

By the way I totally missed the boat with the Dance/USA conference: granted I am not a dance professional, but as a local dance geek-in-the-making I should’ve volunteered or networked my way into some of the sessions. Still, I followed the conference tweetage (and picked up a few interesting ideas to chew on) and made some great online connections. Hello, new followers!

As I was saying, the conference put together a couple of performances (each with a different program) highlighting Bay Area dance companies, and I went to the evening performance last Thursday. I loved the range of dance: not only ballet and modern, but the fortunate concurrence of the San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival facilitated plenty of ethnic dance numbers, including Native American, flamenco, West African, Hawaiian, and a fusion of South Indian classical and Japanese taiko, which I especially liked.

I’ve been to a few similar Bay Area-wide dance concerts in the past few months now (namely benefits like Dances from the Heart and Get in Front, at which I had first seen two of the Dance/USA numbers), and each has inspired me in my own dancing and renewed my pride in the local dance community. I hope they continue, ’cause I’ll keep coming back for more.

Notes: The dances I saw are listed below, some of which I’ve annotated with YouTube clips (not necessarily the same dancers). The program notes for the two performances are available in PDF (it’s in booklet format for printing, so the PDF layout is pages 4, 1 and 2, 3).

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Tweeting at the ballet

Sometimes when I watch performances I write down notes in the program during intermissions, but more often than not… I tweet. (Hat tip to Carla Escoda of Ballet to the People and her bite-size reviews!)

March 30: San Francisco Ballet, Program 5 (Tomasson: The Fifth Season, Liaang: Symphonic Dances, Robbins: Glass Pieces).

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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:

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