San Francisco Ballet Program 6

SF Ballet Program 6
April 6, 2022 7:30 PM
San Francisco Opera House

Tributes to Tomasson

Program 6, the next to last for the 2022 season and the final for director Helgi Tomasson, was primarily dedicated to him, presenting a revival of his work, (2000) and two by choreographers of his choice well known to San Francisco Ballet audiences.

Prism” to Beethoven’s “Piano Concerto No.1” involves three sections, each providing the enthusiastic audience to see soloists, duets and a trio in action. Section 1 was danced by principles Max Cauthorn, Sasha de Sola and Lonnie Weeks. The movement flowed lyrically among the three; a small chorus echoed their movements. Section 2 was graced by Yuan Yuan Tan and Tiit Helmets as a glorious ‘pas de duet”. Tan, a soloist for many years with SFB, showed a dramatic maturity and skill wonderfully realized. This reviewer especially noted her arms, back and general projection which, with tall Helmets support, achieved superb technical and dynamic expression. The final section, 3, is dominated by Julian Mackay who seems to challenge the entire ensemble into action. “Prism” is a lively work, an opportunity to see earlier Tomasson choreography originally done at his former dance home, the NYCity Ballet.

Finale Finale” to the delightful “Le Boeuf sur le Toit, Op. 58″, music by Darius Milhaud, was the hit of the evening. It resonates with images of “Commedia del Arte”, those lively actors of earlier centuries whose playing is the basis of theater comedy today.

In delightful spotted and patched costumes, (by Reid Bartelme and Harriet Jung), the dancers were light hearted, their movements full of physical “jokes” (wiggles, bumps, etc.). Choreographer Christopher Wheeldon says, “…I wanted a piece that felt celebratory and captured a light spirit…”. He accomplished his wish. “Finale Finale” includes (as Milhaud notes), “popular tunes, maxis, sambas and even a Portuguese fado.” Today’s audiences may not recognize those dance rhythms, but the dancers played and romped with the rhythms, giving us great pleasure with their skill, humor and beats. The seven dancers are: Doris André, Joseph Walsh, Isabel Devivo, Benjamin Freemantle, Cavan Conley, Elizabeth Powell and Esteban Hernandez. Bravo all!

The Promised Land”, a new work by choreographer Dwight Rhoden whose work had been seen previously in SFB’s Unbound Festival. Rhoden has assembled various music piece by Rodrigo Sigal, Luke Howard, Philip Glass, Kirill Richter and Hans Zimmer. The work is also a collection of short dance pieces, dancers constantly entering and leaving the stage. Led by Esteban Hernandez, “The Promised Land” has six sections, all moving very fast. The men dominate each section; there are many lifts, tosses and almost acrobatic work for the duets and complex floor work for the men and ensembles. Performers include: Frances Chung, Angelo Greco, Wanting Zhao, Benjamin Freemantle, Joseph Walsh, Isabella Devivo, Sasha de Sola and Wei Wong with eight others joining them in the frantic event. For this reviewer, lively as it all was, the lights were focused directly at the audience, the constant change of stage events and the curious, but uncertain dramatic intentions of the soloist, Esteban Hernandez, made “The Promised Land” less than satisfactory. It is a complex work with remarkable technical feats throughout the choreography, but as a closing work on a complex program, it did not leave the audience content, although most cheered.

Program 6 will be repeated through April 12. Check with for dates and times. Audiences are looking forward to the classic “Swan Lake” which will end the season.