San Francisco Ballet performing Jerome Robbins’ The Concert (Or, The Perils of Everybody) may be one of the most enjoyable dance pieces ever. It isn’t traditional in the ballet sense: there’s no giant pas de deux or repetitive steps to the right, left, and right again. But it’s a well made ballet that conveys mood with a timeless feel, large heart, and overwhelmingly delicious humor.
The 21 dancers, clad in powder blue leotards, tights, and shoes, funnel in to see a concert, and from there we zoom off with them into music-inspired daydreams. On Friday night, Michael McGraw, as the onstage pianist with an attitude, barreled through the Chopin medley while Vanessa Zahorian, filling in for Sarah Van Patten, showed the audience that she’s more than just a steely technician with a sparkling smile.
What: San Francisco Ballet’s Program 7
Where: War Memorial Opera House, 301 Van Ness Ave, San Francisco
When: Alternating with Program 6 through April 21
Tickets: Online, via 415.865.2000, or at the Ballet Box Office at 301 Van Ness Ave.
Zahorian’s a cute but sometimes unassuming dancer, but as the Ballerina, she let her inner Tina Fey come out and play. Her vivacious charm contrasted nicely with Pascal Molat’s cigar chewing Husband, who nonchalantly hammed it up as he tried to avoid his commanding wife (Elana Altman). The dancers moved effortlessly through a swan-inspired duet, the synchronicity of being out of synch (see excerpt above), a comedic take on Russian folk dance, umbrellas, and an ode to bugs. Thankfully, The Concert ended the evening on a light and positive note, but the two other pieces on display just didn’t measure up.
Yuri Possokhov, the company’s choreographer in residence, debuted Classical Symphony which he describes in the program notes as a “dedication to my school [Bolshoi Ballet Academy in Moscow], to my teacher, my background.” He also states that “you have to wait for a full-length ballet to see if [someone is a ] good classical dancer… So this ballet is also a dedication to artists who should be seen in what they learned for many, many years.” Yet his choreography, to Sergei Prokofiev’s regal Symphony No. 1 in D Major, seemed utterly bland and boring, lacking any means to showcase these talented dancers at their best and brightest.