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Category: Ballet

SMUIN PRESENTS A TASTY SMORGASBORD OF DANCE

SMUIN PRESENTS A TASTY SMORGASBORD OF DANCE

The high-flying, versatile Smuin Ballet has put together a rousing evening to elevate the spirits. Somewhere on high, founder Michael Smuin must be smiling. The dancers run the stylistic gamut from modern ballet to Broadway show dance, as adept at one as the other. Credit Artistic Director Celia Fushille, herself a former dancer under Smuin, for shaping a prime ensemble, then assembling a program resplendent  in prime-color contrasts. The most daring piece is Annabelle L.  Ochoa’s mystical “Requiem for a…

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Old-vs.-New Ballet Crisis Recalled

Old-vs.-New Ballet Crisis Recalled

Carvajal’s Tapping New Social Culture was Anathema With the 50th Anniversary of the highly innovative and uninhibited “Summer of Love” in San Francisco, we recall the trail-blazing ballet “Genesis ‘70” that resulted not long after. The furor that the here-and-now work produced had been compared to the 1913 Paris premiere of “The Rite of Spring,” which had aroused the biggest riot in ballet history. Recalling the era is the creator of “Genesis ’70,” Carlos Carvajal, a local choreographer still going…

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OAKLAND BALLET: PHOENIX RISING OUT OF THE ASHES

OAKLAND BALLET: PHOENIX RISING OUT OF THE ASHES

OAKLAND, CA—-Graham Lustig can pull rabbits out of the hat, or make silk purses from a pig’s ear, or merely make vibrant ballet evenings out of nearly nothing. Just call him somewhere between hyper-wizard and miracle worker. The case in point is his economically trimmed version of “Midsummer Night’s Dream,” mounted for the plucky, long-struggling Oakland Ballet performing in a spartan community-college theater before an audience of about 100. If that. Despite the troupe’s very limited resources and just 19…

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A REFRESHING RUSH OF CHOREOGRAPHY

A REFRESHING RUSH OF CHOREOGRAPHY

The season finale for the local ballet troupe now called simply SMUIN is a knock-out show, featuring imaginative choreography from both East and West. Our hippie era was exuberantly revived in Trey McIntyre’s elaborately staged large-budget world premiere, “Be Here Now,” marking the 50th anniversary of the Bay Area’s Summer of Love, that one-time exuberance of beads-pot-fringes nirvana. The viable companion piece is Amy Seiwert’s “Broken Open”—-a local choreography competing distinctively on a national level. The stellar New Yorker McIntyre…

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Return of a Gorgeous Cinderella at SF Ballet

Return of a Gorgeous Cinderella at SF Ballet

The story of Cinderella is so well known and so imprinted with pop culture inflections that finding an audience for any retelling of it in any medium requires a good deal of imagination and perhaps even daring. It is a matter of surpassing rather than affirming previous understanding of the story. Ballet is no exception. The Cinderella story was a ballet first in 1813 (Vienna), then in 1822 (London), again in 1893 (St. Petersburg), and then again in 1906 (London)….

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CONFLICT AND RECONCILIATION IN ARRESTING NEW BALLET

CONFLICT AND RECONCILIATION IN ARRESTING NEW BALLET

San Francisco’s own Myles Thatcher has created a new genre of conflict ballet with his world premiere, “Ghost in the Machine,” stealing the attention at the San Francisco Ballet. Thatcher, a young dancer in the SFB corps de ballet—the legion of overlooked spear-carriers in the stratified ranks of a huge troupe—has produced yet another highly effective choreographic opus combining modern (non-balletic) techniques, toe-shoes conventions, and a considerable story line. Much of his expanded ballet vocabulary draws from modern-dance traditions, where…

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EXCEPT FOR A SLIP, BALLET PERFECTION

EXCEPT FOR A SLIP, BALLET PERFECTION

After nearly three acts dancing the Swan-Queen double role in near-perfect technical proficiency, Yuan Yuan Tan slipped and fell at the most effusive moment of “Swan Lake.” Does that prove she’ll fallible? No. Only that she’s human. She deftly picked herself up April 6 and finished her challenging night, in—of course——near-perfect technical proficiency. In the process, she showed what a thorough professional she is, and has been, through an amazing S.F. Ballet career now at 22 years on stage, and…

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SALOME JOINS HIGH SOCIETY

SALOME JOINS HIGH SOCIETY

The modern-day Salome arrives formally attired in red in a luxury limousine, and departs the same way, carting the severed head of John in the back seat. And along the way, she drinks controlled substances and staggers stupefied throughout. The is not reality TV, but rather the S.F. Ballet at the Opera House playing Arthur Pita’s sexually overcharged world premiere “Salome,” more than a century removed from the scandalous stage versions by Oscar Wilde and Richard Strauss. Even though she…

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TERROR IN THE ELEGANT ‘FRANKENSTEIN’ BALLET

TERROR IN THE ELEGANT ‘FRANKENSTEIN’ BALLET

You know there won’t be a happy ending if, in the very opening of a 10-scene ballet, the couple falls in love via a pas de deux. But still, there’s little clue to just how violent and tragic “Frankenstein” becomes during the three-hour span. This American premiere of “Frankenstein” brings to the S.F. Ballet an unusually lavish and elegant piece set in an English manor, with opulent 18th-century dress, and a bulging cast of some 41. The decline and fall…

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1917 RUSSIAN REVOLT: IN BALLET

1917 RUSSIAN REVOLT: IN BALLET

The San Francisco Ballet world premiere “Optimistic Tragedy” is a story ballet, but it can’t decide if it will tell a story or just put on a stunning exhibition of male dancers. Yuri Possokhov created a large-scale half-hour work with silent film (much of it from Eisenstein’s “Potemkin”) and videos of crashing surf to portray, not just the launch of the 1917 Russian Revolution in Odessa, but also revolutions in general. To achieve this, line after line of restive Russian…

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