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Jo Tomalin

SF Ballet: World Premiere

By February 12, 2013March 7th, 2013No Comments

Photo (above) Maria Kochetkova and Jaime Garcia Castilla in McGregor’s Borderlands.  © Erik Tomasson

Wayne McGregor’s New Work – Borderlands

Review by Jo Tomalin 

Sofiane Sylve and Vito Mazzeo in McGregor’s Borderlands.
© Erik Tomasson

The opening season of SF Ballet began with Program 1 January 29, to February 3, 2013 at the San Francisco War Memorial Opera House offered three different ballets, all distinct in flavor.

The headliner is undoubtedly the World Premiere of Borderlands created for SF Ballet by multi-award-winning British choreographer and director Wayne McGregor. McGregor has also created new works for La Scala, Paris Opera Ballet, the Royal Ballet, Stuttgart Ballet, Nederlands Dans Theatre and New York Ballet.

San Francisco Ballet in McGregor’s Borderlands.
© Erik Tomasson

Borderlands is a vibrant ballet inspired by the abstract paintings of German-American artist Josef Albers. In fact, McGregor and his team spent time at the Josef Albers Foundation in Connecticut immersing themselves in the way Albers worked with colors as a means to deceive the eye, which McGregor used as a starting point for this ballet.

Twelve dancers vividly perform the many fibrous, pulsing, zippy, four-minute segment dances in duos, trios, and groups starting in the huge walled white box (Scenic Design by McGregor and Lucy Carter). Slowly the white box turns shades of gray to dark gray.

Maria Kochetkova and Lonnie Weeks in McGregor’s Borderlands.
© Erik Tomasson

The dynamic lighting design (Lighting Design by Lucy Carter) becomes its own element of this ballet as it ranges from gray to electric blue and neon orange; it complements and contrasts with the electronic sonic score music composed by Joel Cadbury and Paul Stoney. This is a visceral and relevant ensemble work with stunning solos and duos, unexpected shapes of athletic lifts, and dramatic visual and challenging choreographic movement.

Sarah Van Patten in Lifar’s Suite en Blanc.
© Erik Tomasson

Suite en Blanc choreographed by Serge Lifar, Staged by the accomplished Maina Geilgud with Édouado Lalo’s rapturous music, opened the program.  This is a neoclassical ballet with a breathtaking traditional look set against a black background. As the curtains opened there were formations of dancers on two levels in long white dresses or tutus, the men in gray tights and romantic ruched-sleeved shirts filled the stage.  The Corps of twenty dancers, trios and duos were exquisite and the four soloists on January 30 (Koto Ishihara, Vanessa Zahorian, Gennadi Nedvigin and Maria Kochetkova) were elegant, precise and projected well. A wonderful ensemble piece to start the season!

Vanessa Zahorian and Rubén Martín Cintas in Robbins’ In The Night.
© Erik Tomasson

In The Night choreographed by Jerome Robbins was a passionate and lyrical ballet Re-Created by Kevin Connaughton, set to music by Frédéric Chopin, featuring pianist Roy Bogas. Three couples in beautifully ornate and richly textured costumes, designed by Anthony Dowell partner and interact in combinations. Sasha DeSola and Steven Morse danced romantically, reaching out to each other then entwining arms, Morse lifts and whisks DeSola away – beautiful. Next, Jennifer Stahl and Tiit Helimets, a couple with a compelling and strong presence, danced with quick changes of pace, swaying lifts and quivering swoops. Finally, Sarah van Patten and Luke Ingham performed flawless lifts and gentle placement in their fascinating lyrical and hot – cold relationship, which also had a playful side. In The Night is a captivating piece exploring love, under the starlit sky of Jennifer Tipton’s Lighting Design.

SF Ballet’s next program: Program 3 features Possokhov’s The Rite of Spring  (February 26 – March 10).
Don’t miss it!

For more information:
SF Ballet:
Wayne McGregor:

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