San Francisco Ballet Programs 6 and 7

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The last two programs of this season for me were programs 6 and 7, both of which were collections of 3 separate dance pieces.

Program 6 – the Shostakovich Trilogy.  Dances set to two symphonies and a concerto by Shostakovich, this program was choreographed by Alexei Ratmansky as a tribute to his Russian heritage.

First part was Symphony #9.  This was a dark piece – from the lighting to the costumes.  The main dancers were great, lead by Sarah Van Patten, Luke Ingham, Vanessa Zahorian, and James Sofranko, with a Corps that was perfectly in sync and spaced throughtout.  But the highlight was Francisco Mungamba (who is part of the corps!) with his amazing twists, jumps, and twirls that ended the piece in a “Wow!”

Second part was the Chamber Symphony, a dance intended to be a portrayal of Shostakovich with his three loves – his infatuation, his wife and mother of his children, and the young wife who was with him later in life.  This was beautiful – Davit Karapetyan in the lead as Shostakovich with Dores Andre, Mathilde Froustey, and Sarah Van Patten playing the three women.  I was mesmerized with the emotions and had tears in my eyes by the end of this piece.

Third was Piano Concerto #1.  This was bold and fun with brightly colored costumes that lit up the stage.  Lead by Sofiane Sylve, Tilt Helimets, Frances Chung, and Joan Boada, the principals and the corps were fantastic.  Pianist, Mungunchimeg Buriad, and Trumpet player, Adam Luftman, were incredible and it was a great way to end the show.  Brava.

Program 7 was a mixed bill.

First up was “Caprice”, made of 5 movements of varying beats and tempo that kept you captivated to see what happens next.  The music was by composer Camille Saint- Saens and the dance was choreographed by Helgi Tomasson.  The dancers wore gold costumes against a beige background with lighting that beautiful orchestrated.  Led by principals Mathilde Froustey, Vitor Luiz, Sara Van Patten, and Tilt Helimets, it was a strong performance to start the day off with.

Next came “The Four Temperaments”, which is a work of George Balanchine set to music by Paul Hindemith.  I am usually a huge fan of Balanchine but from the costumes to the dance, this was like watching practice hour on stage.  Then I read the program notes and saw that this was Balanchine’s intent!  LOL.  While Balanchine’s goal was to highlight the “lines and formations” of the dancers,  I was a bit underwhelmed and thought the dancers were a little off step.

Finally, we ended with “Swimmer”, a world premier piece choreographed by Yuri Possokhov, the choreographer in residence.  Staring principal dancer Joseph Walsh, it is a 10 movement piece following a man’s movement from home, to work, to affairs, to parties, to finding himself lost in the water.  It is an expression of emotions based on various pieces of American art and literature through the metaphor of swimming.  Interspersed between sets, there was a beautiful backdrop depicting water for the “swimmer” to dance through.  I loved the costumes and the music.  I loved that it was some acting and some dancing.  Really nicely done.

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