SAN FRANCISCO BALLET’S 2009 SEASON – Includes World Premiere of All-New Swan Lake by Helgi Tomasson

Season runs from January 27th – May 9th

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By Seán Martinfield
Sentinel Fine Arts Critic
Photo by Lynn Imanaka

SAN FRANCISCO BALLET has announced the repertory and performance schedule for its 76th Repertory Season. In 2008, SF Ballet, America’s oldest professional ballet company, commemorated its 75th anniversary with a year-long celebration. Festivities have included an ambitious repertory season as well as an upcoming four-city American Tour in fall 2008. The 2009 Repertory Season will begin with Nutcracker, which runs December 11 through 28, 2008 for a total of 31 performances. Following the Opening Night Gala on Wednesday, January 21, 2009, the season will consist of eight programs performed in alternating repertory, from January 27 to May 9.

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Helgi Tomasson rehearses Swan Lake with Lorena Feijóo. Photo, Erik Tomasson

“I am especially pleased to present an all-new Swan Lake, the first for the Company since my last production which premiered over 20 years ago. The work will be completely restaged and feature new scenery and costumes,” said SF Ballet Artistic Director Helgi Tomasson. “Also, in honor of the Company’s 15-year collaboration with Mark Morris, we will present a program of three works that he created expressly for San Francisco Ballet. I am also delighted to bring back six works from the successful New Works Festival that was held in spring 2008, as part of our 75th Anniversary Season.”

PROGRAM 1 opens Tuesday, January 27 and features the revival of Tomasson’s Prism, a world premiere by SF Ballet Choreographer in Residence Yuri Possokhov, and the revival of George Balanchine’s The Four Temperaments. Prism, set to Ludwig van Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 1, premiered at New York City Ballet in 2000 as part of the Diamond Project. Prism, with a cast of 29 dancers, was last performed by the Company during the 2005 Repertory Season. Possokhov, a former principal dancer with SF Ballet, was named Company choreographer in residence in 2006. Balanchine’s The Four Temperaments premiered in 1946, and had its SF Ballet premiere in 1974. Set to Paul Hindemith’s Theme with Four Variations for String Orchestra and Piano, it was last performed by the Company on the 2005 Repertory Season.

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NICOLAS BLANC, KRISTIN LONG & PASCAL MOLAT in Welch’s Naked. Photos, Erik Tomasson

PROGRAM 2 opens Thursday, January 29 with the encore performances of Stanton Welch’s Naked and Val Caniparoli’s Ibsen’s House; and the revival of William Forsythe’s in the middle, somewhat elevated. Welch’s Naked, set to Francis Poulenc’s Concerto in D minor for Two Pianos, is for five couples. Featuring scenic design by Tom Boyd and costume design by Holly Hynes, the work was created for the Company’s 2008 New Works Festival. Caniparoli’s Ibsen’s House also premiered on the New Works Festival and is based on characters from five plays by Henrik Ibsen. The work is set to Antonín Dvořák’s Piano Quintet in A Major, Op. 81, and features scenic and costume design by Sandra Woodall. Set to the music of Thom Willems, “in the middle” was first performed by the Paris Opéra Ballet at the Palais Garnier in 1987. Created for nine dancers, “in the middle” was the second Forsythe work to enter the Company’s repertory and was first performed by SF Ballet in 1989.

PROGRAM 3 opens Saturday, February 21 with the world premiere of Tomasson’s all-new Swan Lake. Tomasson first staged Swan Lake for the Company in 1988 to great audience and critical acclaim. Tomasson’s new production will be completely restaged, with all-new scenery and costumes by acclaimed European designer Jonathan Fensom. Fensom has designed for a number of Broadway revivals such as Pygmalion, Faith Healer, and R.C. Sheriff’s Journey’s End, which earned him a 2007 Tony Award nomination for best scenic design for a play. The three-act production is set to the renowned score by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky.

PROGRAM 4 opens Thursday, March 12 and includes the encore of Tomasson’s On a Theme of Paganini, the SF Ballet premiere of Antony Tudor’s Jardin aux Lilas, and the revival of Jerome Robbins’ The Concert (or, The Perils of Everybody). Tomasson’s On a Theme of Paganini premiered on Program 5 of the 2008 Repertory Season. The work, set to Sergei Rachmaninov’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, Op. 43, features costume design by Martin Pakledinaz. Set to music by Ernest Chausson, Tudor’s melodramatic Jardin aux Lilas was first premiered by Ballet Rambert in London in 1936, with a cast that included Tudor. The one-act work depicts the impact of a marriage of convenience on four characters as they socialize in a lilac garden. 2008 marked the 100th anniversary of Tudor’s birth. New York City Ballet premiered Robbins’ comedic The Concert, set to the music of Frederic Chopin, in 1956. The spoof of a classical music concert, for 20 dancers, had its SF Ballet premiere in 1987.

PROGRAM 5 (All-Morris Program) opens Friday, March 13, featuring three Morris works created on SF Ballet: A Garden, Joyride, and Sandpaper Ballet. Over the past 15 years, Morris has forged a unique partnership with the Company, having created seven works for SF Ballet—more than he has created for any other company aside from his own. Morris’ A Garden, a work for 12 dancers, is set to music by Richard Strauss after François Couperin. SF Ballet first premiered the work in 2001. Joyride, created for SF Ballet’s 2008 New Works Festival, features a commissioned score by John Adams, costume design by Isaac Mizrahi, and lighting design by James F. Ingalls. The Company premiered Sandpaper Ballet, for 25 dancers, in 1999. Set to music by Leroy Anderson, the work also includes costume design by Mizrahi and was last performed by the Company during the 2006 Repertory Season.

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San Francisco Ballet in Robbins’ West Side Story Suite. Photo by Erik Tomasson

PROGRAM 6 opens Friday, April 3 and includes the revival of Balanchine’s Stravinsky Violin Concerto, and the encore presentations of Christopher Wheeldon’s Within the Golden Hour and Robbins’ West Side Story Suite. Balanchine’s Stravinsky Violin Concerto premiered on the opening program of New York City Ballet’s Stravinsky Festival in 1972. The work, set to Stravinsky’s Concerto in D for Violin and Orchestra, was last performed by the Company during the 2004 Repertory Season. Wheeldon’s Within the Golden Hour is set to music by Ezio Bosso and Antonio Vivaldi, and was created for the 2008 New Works Festival. Wheeldon, artistic director and co-founder of Morphoses/The Wheeldon Company has created four works on the Company. Robbins’ West Side Story Suite had its SF Ballet premiere on the 2008 Repertory Season. Premiered in 1995 by New York City Ballet, the work features highlights from the original 1957 musical, West Side Story, with music by Leonard Bernstein and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim.

PROGRAM 7 opens Saturday, April 25 and features Balanchine’s evening-length Jewels, a ballet in three parts. First performed by New York City Ballet in 1967, Jewels is comprised of three ballets: “Emeralds”, “Rubies” and “Diamonds” and set to music by Gabriel Fauré, Igor Stravinsky, and Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky. Each work within Jewels highlights a distinctive era and style of dance. Jewels entered the SF Ballet repertory on the 2002 Repertory Season, and the Company last performed the complete work on the 2003 Repertory Season.

PROGRAM 8 opens Tuesday, April 28 with the encore performance of Possokhov’s Fusion, the SF Ballet premiere of Alexei Ratmansky’s Russian Seasons, and the encore performance of Jorma Elo’s Double Evil. Possokhov’s Fusion is set to music by Rahul Dev Burman and Graham Fitkin with scenic, video and projection design by Benjamin Pierce, and costume design by Sandra Woodall. Ratmansky’s Russian Seasons for 12 dancers was created in 2006 for New York City Ballet’s Diamond Project. The work is set to music by Leonid Desyatnikov and told in 12 sections. Elo’s Double Evil, which debuted during the 2008 New Works Festival, is set to the music of Philip Glass and Vladimir Martinov. The work features costume design by Holly Hynes, and is the first ballet Elo has created for the Company.

During the 2009 Repertory Season, the Company will perform a total of 56 standard subscription performances. Tuesday and Thursday through Saturday evening performances are at 8:00 PM.; Wednesday evening performances are at 7:30 PM.; Saturday and Sunday matinees are at 2:00 PM. The SF Ballet Orchestra will accompany all programs.

For on-line ticket information: SAN FRANCISCO BALLET, 2009

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Seán Martinfield is a native San Franciscan. He is a Theatre Arts Graduate from San Francisco State University, a professional singer, and well-known private vocal coach to Bay Area actors and singers of all ages and persuasions. His clients have appeared in Broadway National Tours including Wicked, Aïda, Miss Saigon, Rent, Bye Bye Birdie, in theatres and cabarets throughout the Bay Area, and are regularly featured in major City events including Diva Fest, Gay Pride, and Halloween In The Castro. As an Internet consultant in vocal development and audition preparation he has published thousands of responses to those seeking his advice concerning singing techniques, professional and academic auditions, and careers in the Performing Arts. Mr. Martinfield’s Broadway clients have all profited from his vocal methodology, “The Belter’s Method”, which is being prepared for publication. If you want answers about your vocal technique, post him a question on AllExperts.com. If you would like to build up your vocal performance chops and participate in the Bay Area’s rich theatrical scene, e-mail him at: sean.martinfield@gmail.com.

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