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San Francisco Ballet: Mixed Repertory: Trio, Ghosts, Borderlands

- Onstage with the Dancers

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San Francisco Ballet

At David H. Koch Theater

Mixed Repertory

Helgi Tomasson, Artistic Director and Principal Choreographer
Glenn McCoy, Executive Director
Debra Bernard, General Manager
Kyra Jablonsky, Assoc. Director, Communications
Martin West, Music Director and Principal Conductor
Guest Orchestra, New York City Ballet Orchestra
Ricardo Bustamente, Ballet Master and Asst. to Artistic Director

New York Tour Publicity: Keith Sherman and Associates

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
October 16, 2013

Trio (2011): Composer: Peter Ilyitch Tchaikovsky, Choreographer: Helgi Tomasson, Scenic Design: Alexander V. Nichols, Costume Design: Mark Zappone, Lighting Design: Christopher Dennis, Conductor: Martin West, Performed by Vanessa Zahorian, Vitor Luiz, Sarah Van Patten, Tiit Helimets, Anthony Spaulding, Maria Kotchetkova, Gennadi Nedvigin, and the Company.

With hints of Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker in his score, “Souvenir de Florence”, the San Francisco Ballet returned to New York after too long a wait. It was thrilling to see them once again, and in such fine form. The introductory cast included Vanessa Zahorian and Vitor Luiz in the 1st Movement of Helgi Tomasson’s Trio, with Sarah Van Patten, Tiit Helimets, Anthony Spaulding, Maria Kotchetkova, Gennadi Nedvigin, and the Company in the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Movements. Dancers exuded rapture, in shades of rust and burgundy costuming by Mark Zappone. Warmth and exuberance abounded in Mr. Tomasson’s vibrant choreography, with lead dancers creating circular motion motifs, as they shifted tempos from rapid to relaxed. There were hints of romanticism, in the 2nd Movement, and fervent abandon in the 4th Movement, offering a bright and brilliant first impression to the vocally impressed audience.

Ghosts (2010): Composer: C.F. Kip Winger, Choreographer: Christopher Wheeldon, Costume Design: Mark Zappone, Lighting Design: Mary Louise Geiger, Conductor: Martin West, Performed by Sofiane Sylve, Tiit Helimets, Shane Wuerthner, Yuan Yuan Tan, Damian Smith, and the Company.

Christopher Wheeldon, choreographer, is well known to New York balletomanes, and here was new choreography we’d never seen. But, it was the Company itself that was showcased tonight, with sophisticated attitude and affect, and an air of urban intrigue. This fascinating piece included a hazy full moon, thanks to Mary Louise Geiger’s effective lighting. It also included a re-acquaintance with the beloved Sofiane Sylve, who left City Ballet for San Francisco some time ago. It was wonderful to see her again, blooming and buoyant on the same stage from which she departed. She’s of narrow and svelte physique, these days. She spun about with “pointing” dervish, facing the audience on each turn. Another re-acquaintance was with Yuan Tuan Tan, who’s been seen in New York in Galas and Fall for Dance. She was elegantly partnered in intertwining lifts by Damian Smith, in this scintillating, surreal ballet. Dancers lead in solo and trio figures, with constantly changing imagery. Ghosts is at once fleeting and magnetic.

Borderlands (2013): Choreographer: Wayne McGregor, Composers: Joel Cadbury and Paul Stoney, Scenic Design: Wayne McGregor and Lucy Carter, Performed by a Company Ensemble. McGregor’s Borderlands, with electronic music by Joel Cadbury and Paul Stoney, is pulsating and percussive. At times the score was evocative of Phillip Glass, repetitive, hypnotic. Maria Kotchetkova and Sofiane Sylve were outstanding in riveting the eye to their rippling muscularity. The ensemble of twelve performed in tightly synchronized energy, with elasticity and ecstasy. McGregor and Carter’s scenic design drew lighting along the stage’s edges, in a somewhat bright border. Among the men, Jaime Garcia Castilla and Pascal Molat caught my eye.

Kudos to Martin West and the New York City Ballet Orchestra.

San Francisco Ballet
in Tomasson's "Trio"
Courtesy of Erik Tomasson

San Francisco Ballet
in Wheeldon's "Ghosts"
Courtesy of Erik Tomasson

Sarah Van Patten and Frances Chung
in McGregor's "Borderlands"
Courtesy of Erik Tomasson

For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at