Dancing through a prism

War Memorial Opera House, San Francisco — February 17, 2012

On Friday night I saw San Francisco Ballet’s Program 2, which consisted of Wayne McGregor’s Chroma, Mark Morris’s world premiere Beaux, and Christopher Wheeldon’s Number Nine.

Chroma

For me the revelation of the evening was Chroma. I had only heard about it fleetingly and seen only very short video clips of it, so I went in with few set expectations. Well, actually my one expectation based on the photos I’d seen was that it would be very stark or cold and I wasn’t sure I would like it or get into it. Finally seeing it totally blew that away.

The music for Chroma, by Joby Talbot and Jack White III, was much more lush, lyrical, and cinematic than I’d expected. And paired with the starkness of the set and lighting, and the boldness of the choreography, there was a kind of tension in the whole thing, a dynamic range of music and emotion that I enjoyed. Well done.

Beaux

I wanted to love Beaux more but unfortunately it felt like the weak link. I was excited by the idea of a new, all-male work by Mark Morris with costumes by Isaac Mizrahi, but the costumes and lighting — mostly pink and orange — were a distraction. (Thom says the costumes are Slim Goodbody-ish.) I enjoyed the middle and later movements more, where the lighting wasn’t as harsh as the beginning. I know this makes me sound old! Otherwise the choreography, which made me think men at leisure in some sylvan utopia, is playful, fraternal, even emotionally touching, which you rarely see in ballet partnering among men.

Number Nine

I had first seen Number Nine last year at its premiere (and again at this year’s gala). I felt like the dancing was just a tad imprecise now and then during this most recent time, but it’s still a relentless, colorful delight. Indeed when I first saw it last year I was distracted by the bright costumes and saturated lighting but here coming after Beaux, it was almost refreshing. (See video.)

By the way, Number Nine is the ballet I’m having fun with here:

Now do I just pop on down to the costume shop to get fitted for a bright yellow unitard?

» See also: Reviews from the Chronicle (“Ballet’s candy-colored ‘Beaux’ plays with imagery“) and San Francisco Classical Voice (“Beauxs will be beauxs“). Program 2 runs through Saturday, February 25. The main cast I saw on February 17 is listed below.

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