San Francisco Ballet – Program 1

San Francisco Ballet: Program 1
Tuesday, February 1, 2022
TRIO (Tomasson: Tchaikovsky)
MRS ROBINSON (World Premiere) (Marston: Davies)
SYMPHONY IN C (Balanchine: Bizet)

An Elegant Sufficiency.

SF Ballet’s opening program on February 1, 2022 (the last season under the directorship of Helgi Tomasson) offered three complex works. All were danced by large casts, with many episodes and variations, providing much to consider.

The “world premiere” of “Mrs. Robinson” by choreographer Cathy Marston is detailed and complex enough as a choreographic drama to demand an entire evening’s attention. Marston was inspired by the plot of Charles Webb’s novel of the same name on which the 1967 film was based. The remarkable dance/acting was performed by Sarah Van Patten as Mrs. Robinson; Joseph Walsh (named Benjamin Braddock) played her young lover. This main plot through-line is accompanied by the young world of the Robinson’s daughter (danced by Madison Keesler) and twenty-six member corps of that lively group. In the course of events, Walsh, though conflicted, is able to join his peers. Luke Ingham, (as Mr. Robinson), Tiit Helmets (as Mr. Bradock) and Jennifer Stahl (as Mrs. Braddock) all provide well-wrought character movement to the plot. Van Patton and Walsh deserve great applause for their skilled passionate presentation.

Marston contrasts Mrs. Robinson’s dilettante nature with the busy gestures of other women who seem to be occupied with household tasks. Her isolation leads to the dramatic seduction. Surrounding this central action, Marston is able to weave in the gradual emergence of young Braddock as a sociable person, capable and easy with others. Audience members are challenged to follow the complex events and incidents.

Music for “Mrs. Robinson” is by Terry Davies; Scenic and Costume Design by Patrick Kinmonth.

A program change brought Tomasson’s “Trio” as the opening work on Program 1. To   Tchaikovsky’s “String Sextet in D minor”, “Souvenir de Florence”, “Op.70′, the choreographer brings lively activity to our attention. Costumed in brilliant red-orange costumes (with color variations as the work progresses), “Trio” presents the entire SF Ballet’s corps and soloists, displaying their individual and collective skill.

Sasha De Sola, Max Cauthorn led the opening section but the center of the work the “Trio” was danced by Dores André, Luke Ingham and Davison -Oliveira. Thomasson notes that this trio is a dramatic interaction between love and death. Death is inevitable. The three dancers depicted this with gentle, lyrical gestures and great skill.

The third movement returned to lively activity by the ensemble led by Misa Kuranaga and Angelo Greco.

Symphony in C”, Choreography by George Balanchine, Music by Georges Bizet was first presented at the Paris Opera Ballet in 1947 and later in 196l in San Francisco by San Francisco Ballet at the Alacazar Theater. The work Is a “ballet blanc” after the great Russian Ballet tradition. Bernard Taper, Balanchine’s biographer notes that in “Symphony in C” the choreographer caught ‘the youthful freshness of the allegro movements and the dreamy moon-drenched romanticism of the adagio. Balanchine ’s musicality made for the happiest matching of music and dance.” Since Tomasson spent may years with Balanchine at the NYC Ballet, the influence in creating works for the entire ensemble is clearly present from Balanchine.

Sasha De Sola and Aaron Robison led the first movement, followed by Sarah Van Patten and Ulrick Birkkjaer in the second. Dores André and Max Cauthorn led the third and then Jennifer Stahl and Henry Sidford the fourth, leading to a great ensemble wherein the company, corps, soloists and all took their bows.

It was a great, complex and demanding opening program for the SF Ballet. Congratulations to them all. There should be an outstanding season ahead. The orchestra, as usual, was led with great skill by Musical Director, Martin West.