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Jo Tomalin

SF Ballet Vibrant Triple Bill: The Colors of Dance

By March 16, 2023March 31st, 2023No Comments

San Francisco Ballet presents the stage Premiere of Myles Thatcher’s COLORFORMS, part of a triple bill program, March 14 – 19, 2023 at the War Memorial Opera House, San Francisco.

Previously presented as a World Premiere film version during SF Ballet’s 2021 Digital Season, the stage version debuted on March 14th and was very well received. Set to music by Steve Reich and choreographed by Myles Thatcher, an SF Ballet Soloist, the combination of Reich’s Variations for Vibes, Pianos, and Strings with Thatcher’s choreography results in a vibrant and joyous new ensemble piece to be added to the SF Ballet repertoire.

On opening night COLORFORMS featured Principal Dancers Sasha De Sola, Aaron Robinson, Misa Kuranaga, and Esteban Hernández; Soloists Jasmine Jimison, Isabella DeVivo, Steven Morse; Cavan Conley Maggie Weirich, and Davide Occhipinti, performing in a variety of small and large combinations with streamlined transitions of set and lighting.

The Scenic and Lighting Design of this piece by Jim French is architectural and beautiful as the set and lighting transforms the space from a seeming three rooms that become a stunning vast backdrop of neon colors and grids.

Susan Roemer’s Costume Design of a notable every day look including full skirts and dresses in varied colors and textures at the start of COLORFORMS and becomes form fitting as the piece evolves.

The theatrical set and look of this piece develops from the fast moving groups of young characters and random combinations as they playfully turn, move, enter and exit a three room space. Reich’s rhythmic music is unpredictable and exciting, especially when the ‘rooms’ melt away – into a new episode of shapes, forms, set, dancers and choreography!

COLORFORMS envelops a range of moods and emotions from dancers in their interactions between the characters and creative choreography, which is visceral, energetic and dynamic throughout the piece. This is certainly a piece to see again to appreciate all the elements that come together so well!

This triple bill program opens with Helgi Tomasson’s 7 FOR EIGHT and closes with William Forsythe’s BLAKE WORKS I.

7 FOR EIGHT is choreographed by Tomasson and is set to beautiful music by Bach : Keyboard Concerto No. 5, BWV 1056 (2nd & 3rd movements); Keyboard Concerto No. 4, BWV 1055 (1st and 2nd movements); Concerto for 4 Harpsichords, BWV 1065 (2nd movement) arranged for one harpsichord; Keyboard Concerto No. 1 BWV 1052 (2nd and 1st movements), conducted by Martin West with pianist Mungunchimeg Buriad.

The first duo with Yuan Yuan Tan and Aaron Robinson with intricate partnering, elegant lifts and Tan’s outstanding extensions sets the tone for the piece. Next, Norika Matsuyama and Cavan Conley perform a joyous and lively duo with freshness and verve. The following movements include floaty, gracious, and dramatic choreography with twirls of floor patterns and precise fast footwork in this elegantly restrained piece.

Dark costume design by Susan Roemer perfectly juxtaposes with the deep blue tones of the scenic and lighting design by Jim French.

Forsythe’s BLAKE WORKS I is set to music by James Blake and features a large ensemble of dancers performing in short episodes. The ethereal music with vocals in the first piece is fascinating when Sasha De Sola, Nikita Fogo and Jasmine Jamison lead out in I Need a Forest Fire. The intriguing score continues with trios, duos and ensemble choreography that is at once grounded, electrifying, sensual, balletic, vibrant, punctuated with fluid joy, unusual choreography with fascinating relationships among the dancers as the music becomes transporting to another time and place – it is all very compelling!

All elements of this piece work in unison to create a breathtaking experience for the audience. Beautifully staged by Ayman Harper with mid blue to dark costume design by Dorothee Merg and William Forsythe and moody atmospheric lighting design by Tanja Ruehl and William Forsythe.

Sasha De Sola and Max Cauthorn’s final duet, Forever, is breathtaking, tender and lovely!

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Jo Tomalin, Ph.D. reviews Dance & Theatre Performances
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