Ink Boat
“These Are the Ones We Fell Among”
Nov. 7, 2021 4 pm
ODC Theater. San Francisco

Existential Event

“Existentialism: concerned with existence, especially human existence as viewed in the theories of existentialism.”

Program notes tell us: “These Are the Ones We Fell Among” grapples with elegance in the face of extinction, looking for humor and grace amid excrement, entropy, fear and fury. Performed by Shinichi and Dana Iova-Koga, with music by composers Carla Kihlstedt and Shahzad Ismaily, lighting by Allen Willner and scenic elements by Amy Rathbone. Conceived and directed by Ann Carlson in collaboration with inkBoat.

Two human persons, trapped and transforming, enjoying an endless loop of abstractly absurd tender tomfoolery. “These Are the Ones We Fell Among” takes inspiration from the movements, myths and metaphors of our endangered animal cousins, persons called by other names, like “elephant.” Conceived, choreographed, written and directed by award-winning interdisciplinary artist Ann Carlson in collaboration with inkBoat. It is an evening length work reminiscent of Samuel Beckett and Dr. Seuss.

I quote all of the above data since it makes the intention for this performance clear and elegant. But, alas, for this reviewer, who has studied and staged works by Samuel Beckett, he does it better, clearer, and shorter. (See “Act without Words” by Beckett.)

One must appreciate and respond to the synchronicity and intimate responses that occur between performers Shinichi and Dana Iova-Koga. Their speech (though often unheard) echoes and unites their statements, so that the words become unnecessary. Their activity, ducking under cover, climbing ladders, leaning against one another and wandering the stage are all in marvelous synchronicity. This reviewer especially appreciated Ms. Iova-Koga’s elegant movement liquidity. She is a joy to watch.

The events (“movements/ myths, metaphors”) are many and well executed. Perhaps there are just too many. Although this reviewer appreciates the concepts, skill and execution of the performers, it becomes delightful when the scene movers enter and leave the space. Their calm, simple activity reminds us that we do “go on”.

Joanna G. Harris (

Ballet Hispanico 11/6/2021

Cal Performances, “Ballet Hispanico
Saturday, November 6, 2021 8 PM
Zellerbach Auditorium Berkeley, CA

Style and Performances

Ballet Hispanico” made its first performance at Zellerbach Auditorium on Saturday eve, November 6, 2021. Although the company is fifty years old (so reports the director, Eduardo Vilaro), we have not seen them here before. The dancers are beautifully accomplished and are masters of a variety of dance styles.

First on the program was “Arabesque” a work in ‘balletic’ style from 1984, music by Enrique Granados, choreography by Vinc18+1ente Nebrada. Program notes report that the company in its early years was experimenting in style, fusing ballet technique with “flamenco’ dimensions”. Vilaro notes that this work is an opportunity to “honor Nebrada’s legacy and the impact of Ballet Hispanico’s mission to create a platform for Hispanic choreographers”

Arabesque’ was beautifully performed by ten dancers, six women and four men. The movement for the women is lyrical; their long dress costumes echo the sweeping movement. The men’s steps are more percussive and intense, displaying great skill in jumps, turns and foot work. “Arabesque” is a highly successful fusion of styles.

Next on the program was “Tiburones” (2019); music by Perez Prado, Dizzy Gillespie and the Funky Lowlives. It is appar18+1ently a comment on the filming of the “dance at the gym” in West Side Story, although the program notes choreographer Annabelle Lopez Ocha “addresses the stereotypes placed on Latino culture.” A film director snaps his board seemingly attacking the performers who carry on nevertheless. Since the dancers are excellent (as they were in the original film), his action seems to denigrate the dancers. They prevail and perform.

18+1” the final work on this program returns to18+1 the “mambo”; the familiar music is by Perez Prado. Gustavo Ramirez Sansano, choreographer is noted for his 19 years’ contributions to the company. The dancers, dressed in all black, flirt with each other and with the audience, at one time seating themselves at the stage’s edge. The dance is a well executed medley of rhythmic steps, performed with several variations by individuals, duets and small groups. It is delightful!

The company dancers are:

Christopher Bloom, Jared Bogart, Simone Cameresi, Antonio Cangiano, Shelby Colona, Amanda del Valle, Paulo Hernandez-Farella, Laura Lopez, Omar Rivéra, Gabrielle Sprauve, Dandara Veiga, Lenai Wilkerson, and Mariano Zamora.

Bravo all! Return to Zellerbach again soon!

Joanna G. Harris

ARTS MEDALLION: Helgi Tomasson, Honoree

2021 San Francisco ARTS MEDALLION: Helgi Tomasson, Honoree

Bravo! Helgi!

Bravo! Jim and Cecilia Herbert, Honorary Co-Chairs! Bravo! Pattie Lawton and Ken Fulk, Event Co-Chairs and the Honorary Committee and Event Committee.
Bravo! to the Museum of Performance & Design and to the San Francisco Ballet.

Thursday, October 21, 2021 celebrated a very special event to honor Helgi Tomasson.

Held at the Saint Joseph’s Art Society, 1401 Howard Street, San Francisco, formerly a church, the building is now an amazing center for many presentations of art; books, sculpture, window painting, sources of design and art production that invoked curiosity for exploration and support. Many wondered how they could accomplish that.

A menu of drinks and food was served, all sponsored by Saint Joseph’s Arts Society. The mixed drinks, made to order, were called by ballet names: “Ballet Russe”, “Milano Torino”, “Miss Paloma”. Each used ingredients unique to its region. Servers passed wonderful “ hors d’oeuvres” from caviar to pizza. The guests, from the dance community and the patron community, were all delighted, impressed and lively.

My guest commented that part of the evening’s success was its intimacy. We sat on sofas, moved freely around the room and listened to the SF orchestra play chamber music.It was easy and pleasant to meet one another. I was able to speak with two young people who will join the Ballet next year; one who studied in Russia, the other from Sweden.

The three performances by members of the San Francisco were delightful, impressive and skillful.

First on the program was a ‘pas de deux’ danced by Yuan Yuan Tan and Tiit Helmuts from “7 for Eight” (2004), to music by Bach. Audiences of the SF Ballet have seen these two brilliant performers in many events, but close up and on a small stage they were even more remarkable for their technique and responsiveness.

Next, another ‘pas de deux’ with Sarah Van Patten and Luke Ingham, from “THE FIFTH SEASON” (2006), music by Karl Jenkins. Two people dance, yet each event is different in energy, interpretation and interaction.

Third on the program, “CONCERTO ‘GROSSO” (2003), score by Geminiani after Corelli, featuring an outstanding group of men dancers: Esteban Hernandez, Cavan Conley, Diego Cruz, Benjamin Freemantle, and Wei Wang. How they managed all the superb leaps, jumps and turns on that small stage (about one-quarter of that at the Opera House) is amazing. Their skill and energy were unbelievable; we were all moved and impressed by their achievements. Bravo! to all the dancers … and to …

The SF Ballet Orchestra who played during the social hour and accompanied the performances. Maestro Martin West, Music Director and Principal Conductor led the twelve members of the orchestra accompanying each of the dance events. Again, superb performances.

All three dance works were choreographed by Helgi Tomasson.

Jim Herbert, Co-chair of the event, then paid tribute to Tomasson’s many years of leadership (1985-2022). He noted the more than 50 works Tomasson has choreographed and his sponsorship of the 2008 New Works Festival and the 2018 Unbound: A Festival of New Works. Also noted: his “Nutcracker” adaptation was taped for PBS’s Great Performances. Herbert also noted Tomasson’s works commissioned by other companies, SF Ballet’s world tours … and more. Tomasson then spoke quietly, stating that “dancers are such nice people” and he “loved them all.” He graciously accepted the tributes and acknowledged his pleasure with the SF Ballet company and its many sponsors.

The program noted that Tomasson joins a distinguished group of past Gold Medallion Honorees among whom most recently was Michael Tilson Thomas (2019). Tomasson apparently is the first honoree from the SF Ballet.

The evening continued with delightful socialization, drinking and snacking. The gossip was, of course, who would succeed Tomasson as director. Names were whispered and projected. So far though, there has been no new appointment announcement.

Congratulations to all artists, participants, helpers and sponsors.

It was an evening to remember! We look forward to the SF Ballet’s 2022 season.

Joanna G. Harris