Dance Reviews: Ballet in the Bay

One of my favorite things about San Francisco is the abundance of art. There are a number of wonderful museums, galleries, and theaters, so there is always something to see and enjoy.

San Francisco. Arts in Abundance.

San Francisco. Arts in Abundance.

Over the weekend, I was lucky enough to go to 3 performances! Friday night, I tagged along to see He’s My Brother She’s My Sister at The Independent, since a friend of a friend was in one of the opening bands. Saturday, I got to see 2 of my favorite contemporary companies in the country, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago and Alonzo King LINES Ballet, perform together at Zellerbach Hall. Sunday, before the Super Bowl, I went to see San Francisco Ballet at the beautiful War Memorial Opera House. Needless to say, it was an incredible weekend.

I had a blast at the concert on Friday, but am going to focus on the dance performances.

Hubbard Street Dance Chicago with Alonzo King LINES Ballet

As I mentioned, this show included two of my favorite companies in the country. I was so excited to see what they would do!

The first piece, Little mortal jump was choreographed by Alejandro Cerrudo, Resident Choreographer of Hubbard Street Dance Chicago. The grounded, somewhat quirky movement highlighted the style and skill of the Hubbard Street dancers. They moved dynamically, but with a smooth, almost cat-like ease. The set included 4 large boxes, that at some times served as frames for the dancers, and at others blocked them from view. In one section, 2 dancers were actually stuck onto the boxes, shedding a top layer of clothing that remained on the wall. With talented dancers, interesting choreography, and creative sets, this piece was a great way open the show.

Azimuth, the second piece of the evening, was a collaboration between the two companies choreographed by Alonzo King. An azimuth is “one of three coordinates identifying a point on a sphere, relative to it’s center.” According to King, “Artistically, azimuth is the distance between where you are (axis mundi) and where you are headed (aspiration, goal), erased by absorption.” The piece began with the full ensemble, both companies, on stage, moving in unison. It was beautiful to see so many dancers moving through King’s fluid, intricate choreography. It was also fascinating seeing the two companies dancing together, as they are both known for very different aesthetics. I always enjoy King’s choreography, but I particularly enjoyed the fourth movement, Compass, featuring one woman and four men, performing a series of unique lifts and weight sharing.

The show ended with Hubbard Street performing Too Beaucoup, choreographed by Sharon Eyal and Gai Behar. It featured 15 dancers in flesh colored unitards with white wigs and white contacts, making the, “simultaneously exposed and dehumanized”. The beat driven music provided an interesting background to the movement, which alternated between mechanically precise and expressive. I enjoyed the choreography, and honestly would have loved to be on stage. I felt, however, that some of the dancers out performed others in synchronized sections. I also wanted some of the movement to be more crisp and clean. I still found it to be a unique and entertaining piece, at the end of an engaging show.

San Francisco Ballet

Sunday’s matinee performance opened with Suite en Blanc, choreographed by Serge Lifar to music by Edouard Lalo. The set included two black staircases against a black background, providing a stark contrast to the corps of dancers in white. The choreography had some Romantic elements interspersed with Neoclassical shapes. Highlights for me were the Pas de Trois, performed by Vanessa Zahorian, Davit Karapetyan, ad Vitor Luiz, Serenade, a solo performed by Koto Ishihara, and Flute, a solo impeccably danced by Frances Chung. The full ensemble, over 20 dancers, came together for an exciting, visually stunning finale.

Jerome Robbins’ In The Night featured three duets set to music by Frederic Chopin, played by Roy Bogas. The first duet was lovely and sweet, the second was more crisp and dynamic, and the third, danced by Yuan Yuan Tan and Damian Smith, was wonderfully passionate. Each section was performed well, and the differences between each pair made for a beautiful, enjoyable piece.

The performance ended with Borderlands, a world premier choreographed by Wayne McGregor. This was my favorite piece in the show, but some audience members actually walked out during it! It’s not what most people associate with “ballet”, but it was the most representative piece in the performance of the direction dance is moving in. The movement was very physical and interesting, with impressive extensions and wavelike spinal motions. My favorite section was a pas de deux with Maria Kochetkova and Lonnie Weeks. Tender moments appeared in the challenging, intricate, pas de deux. Weeks performed with remarkable skill and maturity for so young a dancer (in my completely unbiased opinion). All of the dancers were fully invested in the piece, and filled the stage with energy.

So many reasons to love the Bay!

So many reasons to love the Bay!

I feel so lucky to have seen such wonderful dancing!

How did you spend your weekend?


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One Comment

  1. Phyllis · · Reply

    “Dance Reviews: Ballet in the Bay | Pas de Deux Blog”
    Bamboo Roman Shades was indeed a superb article,
    can’t wait to go through even more of your blogs.
    Time to squander several time on the web haha. Many thanks -Karol

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