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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Nureyev exhibit at de Young Museum

Yesterday afternoon my partner and I finally jeté-d our way to the Rudolf Nureyev exhibit, “A Life in Dance,” at the de Young Museum in San Francisco. Ballet fans, if you haven’t already been, go see it before it closes this Sunday, February 17! And if you can check out early this afternoon (Friday), it’s a warm, glorious day to be out and about in Golden Gate Park.

Jeté-ing my way to Nureyev at the de Young.

Jeté-ing my way to Nureyev at the de Young.

Lots of beautiful costumes, photographs, and filmed ballet clips spanning Nureyev’s career await. Most of the exhibit is laid out in groups of costumes from various ballets, each backed by a small scrim that makes you feel like you’re walking backstage and onstage, as if wandering through several set pieces. As with most special exhibits, the taking of photographs is not allowed; otherwise you know I’d be snapping pics of every stitch and sequin!

On your way out don’t forget to visit the textile room (just beyond the exhibit exit and store) for a small collection of photographs, news clippings, and a video produced by San Francisco Ballet, all relating to Nureyev’s connection to San Francisco.

Happy New Year 2013!

Happy New Year! Yes, this blog and I are very much still alive. The last several weeks of 2012 were quite busy for my ballet calendar: in addition to regular classes, I was in a performance workshop, which culminated in a student showcase! It was my very first time performing ballet for an audience and marked my return to the stage after an absence of more than ten years (I say as if there has been a public clamoring in the meantime). OK, it was basically a recital for an audience of mostly family and friends, but still, it has rekindled my thirst for performing.

Also, in November and December I saw a few dance performances: ODC’s The Velveteen Rabbit, San Francisco Ballet’s Nutcracker, and Smuin Ballet’s The Christmas Ballet. All were very much fun and totally got me in the wintry holiday spirit.

At the end of the year, my partner Thom and I were in Pasadena for a friend’s wedding. While in town we came across the City Hall, and I couldn’t resist taking a ballet photo with this gorgeous setting. I was already obsessed with posing with ballet posters… now add architectural wonders.

Arabesque at City Hall in Pasadena, California.

Oh, just posing. Like ya do.

I will definitely write more about the performing and performances in a forthcoming blog post. Until then enjoy this Yo-Yo Ma/Chris Botti version of “Auld Lang Syne” that one of my ballet teachers, Carla of Ballet to the People, used for révérence over the holidays. I bow in your direction, gentle reader. May your 2013 be full of lovely dance moments!

P.S. If you missed the annual Vienna Philharmonic New Year’s concert on TV, you can check out the Staatsballett segments here and here. However, they don’t feel as exciting or interesting as last year’s, in my opinion.

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:

Behind-the-scenes video from Smuin Ballet with choreographer Adam Hougland, whose Cold Virtues was a highlight of the evening:

My partner, Thom, got in on the ballet word association as well. His words for Oh, Inverted World: quirky, sweaty, emo sport.

On the way out of the theater I couldn’t help posing the poster; I think this is becoming my ballet-going photo meme:

Poster posing at Smuin Ballet.

Smuin Ballet’s fall/winter program continues at the Palace of Fine Arts Theatre in San Francisco through October 14 (discount tickets are available on Goldstar), and other Bay Area venues early next year. Also take a look at San Francisco Classical Voice’s review (“Smuin Ballet aims for unforgettable“), which covers all the bases. Below is the program with the opening-night cast I saw last Friday:

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Ballet San Jose announces 2013 season

Ballet San Jose today announced its 2013 repertory season, which includes Don Quixote, one world premiere, six company premieres, and the return of Stanton Welch’s Clear, which I remember enjoying from last season, especially as it showcases the guys! (Check out this video–jump to 2:07–for clips of Clear at Houston Ballet where Welch is artistic director.)

Stanton Welch’s ‘Clear’, as performed by Ballet San Jose in April 2012. Photo copyright: Robert Shomler. (Left to right) Joshua Seibel, Rudy Candia, Akira Takahashi, Jeremy Kovitch, Alexsandra Meijer, Ramon Moreno, Damir Emric, and Francisco Preciado.

While I’m not as amped up to see Don Quixote (for some reason I feel Don Q‘d out, but by next year I’m sure I’ll be ready again), I’m excited about all the company premieres. I’m looking down the list, and these are all pieces that I either haven’t seen before elsewhere or am not otherwise familiar with.

The prelude to the season will be a gala performance in November 2012, and a newly choreographed Nutcracker in December. Hmm, I hadn’t planned on any formal events this year; time to spiff up my tuxedo even sooner?

Another welcome announcement is the return of live music! Last season was my first to see and get to know Ballet San Jose, and I was a little disappointed by the lack of live music (perhaps a casualty of the company’s recent administrative turmoil), so I am glad to hear there will be musicians in the pit again soon.

Subscriptions to the three-program rep season are available for purchase or renewal now; single tickets go on sale September 24 for The Nutcracker, and December 1 for the rep programs. Below is the season summary; what do you think? Are some of these your favorites or not-so-favorites?

» See also the Mercury News and the Ballet San Jose press release (PDF) for more details.

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Pirouettes and popcorn: Royal Ballet’s ‘La Fille’ at the movies

Last weekend, I had a joyous time watching my first full-length Royal Ballet performance and my first La Fille Mal Gardée at that, all from a convenient nearby movie theater. As a ballet geek-in-training I’ve been trying to watch as much ballet as I can. It’s about time I start expanding my scope beyond the local companies, and if a movie theater can provide a spark of the opera house experience (for now), I’ll take it. And the day I went happened to be the day of the Olympics closing ceremony in London, so I was already in an English mood!

The turnout (har har) was rather decent. Go San Francisco balletomanes! I was expecting be one of only a handful of people in the theater, but by the time I strolled in (not with popcorn but with coffee–this was Sunday at noon after all) at ten minutes before showtime, to get to an easily accessible center seat I had to sit in front of the cross aisle, closer to the screen than I usually like, but it turned out fine.

The ballet or the movies? It’s both!

I won’t go into a full review of the performance but I will say that I enjoyed virtually every moment. La Fille is so exuberant (spoiler alert: no one dies!), and the leads, Steven McRae and Roberta Marquez, were exquisite as the young lovers. This filmed format, with all its close-ups, points out the additional acting demands, and Marquez especially was up to the task. I even shed a few tears during their ribbon pas de deux, it was so lovely and full of emotion. And yet again in the second act I found myself welling up a couple of times. Ah, love!

Back to the nuts and bolts: Before the performance and during intermission, there were a few behind-the-scenes featurettes. I thought they were really great in putting La Fille in context.

“Frederick Ashton’s final full-length ballet is one of his most joyous creations, imbued with his love for the Suffolk countryside”:

“Frederick Ashton’s choreography calls for a high level of virtuosity from its principals. Here Ludovic Ondiviela rehearses for the role of Alain, and Stephen McRae and Roberta Marquez rehearse for the roles of Colas and Lise”:

This was my first “ballet at the movies” (I have been to a few outdoor opera simulcasts), and I think I’m hooked! It was part of the Ballet in Cinema summer rebroadcasts of live performances from earlier this year. The final ballet, Raymonda performed by the Bolshoi, will be shown at several Cinemark (Century, Cinéarts) movie theaters on Sunday and Tuesday, August 26 and 28.

» See also fellow ballet blogger Steve (of You Dance Funny)’s blog post and review: “How adorable are Roberta Marquez and Steven McRae? I loved them both tremendously in the roles of Lise and Colas, and found their chemistry quite endearing.” Yes!