April 9th,”Schokovitch Trilogy”

Choreographed by Alexei Ratmansky and danced by San Francisco Ballet

No one fell asleep this time!  I spent some time with the program and got a little caught in them, or rather the lack of them.  The best reflections on the piece came from the Musical director and Principal conductor, Martin West. To some extent, this makes sense given that the ballet is about the Russian composer Schokovitch.  I have no idea who wrote the notes about the dance but they end with this: “The color red is prominent; backdrops offer hints of Stalin-era Russia. Yet all three ballets are markedly different”.  This seems like an obvious point.  Why bother?  When I closed the program, I wondered why should I invest or care about this ballet?

In contrast, the SF Symphony program notes from 4/18 were stellar (yes, I am a little behind with my writing).  They were quite informative and even included suggested readings.  In the past, these suggestions have prompted me to read more about Charlie Chaplin, Chopin, and others. I felt not only welcomed, but respected as an audience member.  

I don’t really care if the MacArthur Foundation thinks Ratmansky (choreographer) is a “genius” or if the repetiteur is more forthcoming about the intent and emotion of the piece than Ratmansky.  Give me notes that offer more than just the obvious, give me something that matters to how might “see” the dance better.

January 16th Wendy Whelan “Restless Creature”

Choreography by Kyle Abraham, Joshua Beamish, Brian Brooks and Alejandro Cerrudo

Can one escape 20+ years of habit?  

Even with four different choreographers, Whelan still seemed very much “the same.” There is no doubt that Whelan is a beautiful mover, but is she a restless creature?   Perhaps, but she seemed held (hostage) by her history.  There were flashes of the classical throughout the four dances, but it was the articulations of her feet and grace of her arms that oozed ballerina.  For me, her habit stood out more than anything else.

What is the fascination (a kind of fetish) of seeing what happens to ballerinas after they leave the comfort of their companies, mentors, tutus, and partners?  What does it matter for mean for Whelan to be different on the stage – or at least trying to be different on the stage?  

In many ways, I was restless for Whelan.  I yearned for something more radical than her hair falling out of its tightly constructed bun.