San Francisco Ballet‘s third program of the 2013 season focuses on contemporary choreographers and accessible-yet-unexpected movement styles. Last night’s opening highlighted ten don’t-miss moments of the latest program:
- Jennifer Stahl’s breakout, look-at-me-and-my-luscious-phrasing turn in the premiere of Yuri Possokhov’s new “The Rite of Spring”: Stahl offers more than just an embodiment of Possokhov’s organic, ground-driven movement. She fills her sacrificial role with raw fire and confident technique.
- Diego Cruz’s infectious grin as he sauntered through Mark Morris’ homage to men in “Beaux”: Cruz could give me ten thousand parking tickets and–flashing his pearly whites–I’d happily pay them all.
- Supreme design aesthetic: In “The Rite of Spring, ” Ben Pierce’s birch tree-laden hill and Sandra Woodall’s costuming of delicate ladies’ shifts and elders’ sarong masterfully complete Possokhov’s focused vision of this fairy tale. And are Sandra Woodall’s woodsy painted shifts available for sale? I need one for Sunday lounging at Duboce Park.
- The powerful and expertly played music emanating from the SF Ballet Orchestra pit: The orchestra, under Martin West’s baton, admirably displayed its bag of riches, which includes John Adams’ score of brass whomps and loud thuds in Ashley Page’s “Guide to Strange Places,” harpsichord delights-played by Bradley Moore’s devilish fingers–in Mark Morris’ “Beaux,” and Stravinsky’s dissonant strings in “The Rite of Spring.”
- The hair: First came Pascal Molat’s smoothed back, I-keep-a-spritzer-bottle-nearby-at-all-times do in “Strange Places” and “Beaux”; it seemed to get wetter and slicker as “Beaux” progressed, too. Later in the evening, the ladies in “The Rite of Spring” infused a little Vanity Fair-action, coupling bohemian style with long, wispy locks.
- Pre-show dinner at Bar Jules: What a sinful excuse to eat out. From the bread to the grilled polenta and Brussels sprouts, and the lemon tart with fresh whipped cream and huckleberries… The only thing that could have elevated the meal any higher would have been a Drew Barrymore sighting.
- Nine men in body-hugging unitards: When I first saw “Beaux” last year, all I could see was dancing Barbie camo. This year, the various shades of pink felt more soul soothing and reminiscent of a sunset than over-the-top obnoxious. And partway through “Beaux,” I wondered what the piece would look like with nine women instead of an all-male cast. Possibly just as light and frivolous, but fun and campy nonetheless.
- Obeying your elders: Garen Scribner and James Sofranko’s attached-at-the-hip-bone elders–in “The Rite of Spring”–rose to pure genius. Sharing a metallic skirt, they moved through space as if one body. For how in-tune they moved onstage, I seriously worried about their potentially unscripted moments backstage.
- Stahl’s post-performance promotion to company soloist: Artistic Director Helgi Tomasson has taken to promoting talent from within over the past few years, and often does so after young dancers rise to the occasion in a break-out role. It’s both exciting to watch dancers climb the ranks and also a testament to the talent within.
- Possokhov is the man: His “The Rite of Spring” intertwines modern minimalism with old world folklore and creative movement. Dancers twitch, leap, and roll as if being pulled along an invisible cord towards some unknown–yet cataclysmic–end. This is a piece you can watch over and over again, catching something completely new and inventive each time around. Your attention will never wane.
What: San Francisco Ballet’s 2013 Season: Program 3, featuring Ashley Page’s “Guide to Strange Places,” Mark Morris’ “Beaux,” and Yuri Posskhov’s “The Rite of Spring”
Where: War Memorial Opera House, 301 Van Ness Ave, San Francisco
When: Alternates with Program 4 through March 10
Tickets: Online, via 415.865.2000, or at the Ballet Box Office at 301 Van Ness Ave.