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Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
Performance Reviews
Lincoln Center
United States
New York City
New York
New York, NY

San Francisco Ballet Presents Contemporary Repertory at Lincoln Center Festival

by Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
July 30, 2006
Lincoln Center
Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, Inc.
140 West 65th Street
New York, NY 10023
About the Author:

San Francisco Ballet Presents Contemporary Repertory at Lincoln Center Festival

Lincoln Center Festival 2006
Nigel Redden, Director
Marian Skokan, Media

San Francisco Ballet

Mixed Repertory
7 for Eight
Artifact Suite

Helgi Tomasson, Artistic Director and Choreographer
Glenn McCoy, Executive Director
Lesley Koenig, General Manager
Kyra Jablonsky, Assoc. Director, Public Relations
Martin West, Music Director and Principal Conductor
Guest Orchestra, New York City Opera Orchestra
Ashley Wheater, Ballet Master and Asst. to Artistic Director

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
July 30, 2006

(See San Francisco Ballet October 13, 2002 Review).
(See San Francisco Ballet Sylvia Review).

7 for Eight (2004): Music by Johann Sebastian Bach, Choreography by Helgi Tomasson, Costume Design by Sandra Woodall, Lighting Design by David Finn, Pianist: Michael McGraw, Performed by Principals and Soloists.

Tonight's mixed bill of three contemporary works, all new to New York and tied together with at least a partial score by Bach, began with Artistic Director, Helgi Tomasson's ballet, 7 for Eight. I found the costumes and lighting as mesmerizing as the simple, but elegant visuals of this dance, in which 7 movements were created for an ensemble of principals and soloists. Michael McGraw was featured pianist.

Nutnaree Pipit-Suksun and Pierre-François Villanoba partnered in the first and sixth movements, with glowing lifts and gorgeous lines. Kristin Long and Gonzalo Garcia danced in the second and fourth movements (in the latter joined by Jaime Garcia Castilla and Elizabeth Miner). Frances Chung, Elizabeth Miner, and Pascal Molat danced in the third movement (my favorite), with Mr. Molat dancing solo in the fifth. The seventh movement was an ensemble finale. The fade outs, sensational spins, superb lifts, and intense presence, allowed the New York audience to see this renowned company at its finest and most serious, after the sketchy story ballet, Sylvia, at the beginning of the Festival series.

Quaternary (2005): Music by Johann Sebastian Bach, John Cage, Arvo Pärt, Steven Mackey, Choreography by Christopher Wheeldon, Costume and Scenic Design by Jean-Marc Puissant, Lighting by Jennifer Tipton, Prepared Piano and Piano Soloist: Michael McGraw, Cello Soloist: David Kadarauch, Electric Guitar: Steven Mackey, Performed by an ensemble from the Company.

Christopher Wheeldon is no stranger to New York ballet audiences, as he is Resident Choreographer of New York City Ballet, and he seems to churn out a multitude of new ballets, not only for City Ballet, but for numerous companies around the globe. He's also an engaging raconteur, appearing as host at ballet galas. Quaternary, with dances for the four seasons, had a recognizable feel and look to many of his recent works, including his After the Rain, choreographed for City Ballet.

Not only did "Summer" in Quaternary use music by Arvo Pärt, but it also used part of the same After the Rain score. Muriel Maffre and Tiit Helimets danced to Michael McGraw's solo piano in almost existential rapture. There was connectedness and disconnectedness in surreal sensuality. Ms. Maffre‚s distinctive lines lent themselves to the elongated choreography, and Mr. Helimets partnered her with attentiveness and attitude, a skillful dancer on his own.

Yuan Yuan Tan and Damian Smith led an ensemble to a prepared piano score in Winter, and David Kadarauch's cello resonated in Spring, with Lorena Feijoo, Joan Boada, Tina LeBlanc, and Rory Hohenstein as the ensemble. Autumn brought Steven Mackey on electric guitar as the backdrop for Sarah Van Patten and Ruben Martin‚s lead of a full ensemble. Jean-Marc Puissant's silky blue costumes were classic and classy. In fact, Christopher Wheeldon is always one class act.

Artifact Suite (2004): Music by Johann Sebastian Bach, Eva Crossman-Hecht, Choreography by William Forsythe, Staging by Jodie Gates, Asst., Amy Raymond, Costume and Lighting Design by William Forsythe, Solo Pianist: Michael McGraw, Performed by the full Company.

Today‚s matinee audience was unprepared for this very different work by William Forsythe, and a few fled during the "pause". I heard whispers of "too experimental". However, although Part I brought the stiff black "curtain" down with a thud every few moments, Part II did no such thing. The music had smooth and edgy contrasts, as did the fascinating choreography. With dancers in straight lines at stage left and right, and with bare black lighting shining in stark spotlights at times, the company moved, in measured fashion, across stage with occasional interweaving changes.

The single female figure, Muriel Maffre, who has been featured in each of the programs, was quite magnetizing as the "leader" of this structured event. The movement involved as much walking as dancing, and some pas de deux were persuasive and percussive. For the most part, this seemed to be a work in progress. At the pause, the curtain remained down and dim, and there was some confusion as to the reason. It certainly helps to carefully read one‚s program. Michael McGraw was solo pianist for Part II, and this final ballet was well worth the wait.

Kudos to San Francisco Ballet, and kudos to Lincoln Center Festival for inviting and presenting this fine, internationally renowned ballet company.

Yuan Yuan Tan and Damian Smith in Wheeldon's Quaternary
Photo copyright Erik Tomasson

Lorena Feijoo and Joan Boada in Wheeldon's Quaternary
Photo copyright Erik Tomasson

Yuan Yuan Tan and Damian Smith in Forsythe's Artifact Suite
Photo copyright Erik Tomasson

Yuan Yuan Tan and Damian Smith in Forsythe's Artifact Suite
Photo copyright Erik Tomasson
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