San Francisco Ballet's Program 2, Classical (Re)vision


San Francisco Ballet presented their second program of the season on Tuesday evening with Classical (Re)vision, featuring mostly modern ballet set to classical or classic popular tunes. Of the five works presented, three short works were not included in the program notes, which billed them as Director's Choice, that is, selections by Artistic Director Helgi Tomasson that apparently were decided before printing the program. These short pieces proved to be delightful and altogether too short.

San Francisco Ballet in Caniparoli's Foreshadow. Photo © Erik Tomasson
San Francisco Ballet in Caniparoli's Foreshadow. Photo © Erik Tomasson

The first work was Bespoke, by choreographer Stanton Welch, set to a Bach violin concerto. The cast included 12 dancers, mostly notably Mathilde Froustey and Carlo Di Lanno in a touching pas de deux. The men were costumed in sleeveless white tops and white pants, while the women wore sleeveless tops and skimpy bottoms of various colors. This is a light piece but with elegant extensions. In an otherwise flawless performance, principal dancer Frances Chung, while entering from stage rear, stood on pointe and immediately slipped and fell on her bottom. There were ooohs from the audience. Being the professional that she is, Chung smiled, got back up, and danced. She seemed unhurt, but after a few steps she left the stage briefly, maybe to attend to her shoe, and returned. She was all smiles leaving the Opera House after the fourth work on the program.

Val Caniparoli's Foreshadow is a dramtic, seven-minute pas de trois from Anna Karnina, that consisted of Jennifer Stahl, Tiit Helimets, and Elizabeth Powell. Paired in a duet, Helimets wore a grey top and shorts, which contrasted with Stahl's flowing grey dress. Both were contrasted even more so by Powell in a black body suit and tights, who presented a more serious phrasing than her partners. It's a beautiful piece, and regrettably too short.

Christopher Wheeldon's Pas de Deux from After the Rain partnered Yuan Yuan Tan in a peach body suit and without pointe shoes, with a shirtless Luke Ingham in grey pants. They danced a beautiful and romantic, but melancholy, piece set to piano and violin by composer Arvo Pärt. Again, this eleven minute-work was also too brief.

Another brief selection, Helgi Tomasson's Soirées Musicales featured Misa Kuranaga partnered with Angelo Greco in more traditional ballet costumes. Danced to sections from composer Benjamin Britten's eponymous suite this was a very nicely done, elegant, yet joyous work. Kuranaga's lovely pirouettes and Greco's forceful turns and leaps made for an upbeat and lively, but short, ten minutes.

Last was Mark Morris' playful Sandpaper Ballet, which was preceded before the curtain went up by Martin West conducting the Christmas Carol "Sleigh Ride." Why this is so, maybe only quirky Mark Morris knows. The cast included 25 dancers costumed in green, right down to their green shoes and gloves, in intricately coordinated choreography. Again, Misa Kuranaga delighted in a solo. Conventional ballet movements, such as arabesques, contrasted with musical stage steps, such as shuffling and soft shoes to tunes a range of fun, classic popular tunes. The highlight was the cast rapidly mixing in a zany take on the old tune The Typewriter. It was great fun, but is this piece from Morris really ballet?

The programs on February 12 and 16 include different Director's Choices. See San Francisco Ballet for details. San Francisco Ballet opens Program Innovations, the third of the season, on Thursday, February 13. The program includes the world premiere of The Big Hunger by Trey McIntyre. See the interview with McIntyre about his new work.