SF BALLET – 2010 Repertory Season Opens Saturday, January 23rd

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By Seán Martinfield
Sentinel Editor and Publisher
Photo by Lynn Imanaka

San Francisco Ballet, the oldest professional ballet company in America, is now it its 77th Repertory Season. 2010 also marks the 25th anniversary of SF Ballet Artistic 
Director and Principal Choreographer Helgi Tomasson’s tenure with the Company. Under his direction, SF Ballet has reached new standards of excellence, acclaimed for its diversity and commitment to new work, while remaining grounded in the classical idiom. As a special, one-time-only programming highlight in celebration of this important Company milestone, SF Ballet’s 2010 Repertory Season will include the presentation of three full-length works. Following the Opening Night Gala this Wednesday, January 20th, the season consists of eight programs performed in alternating repertory, from January 23rd to May 8th. “This season’s programming is especially exciting and exceptional,” said Tomasson. “Not only are we presenting three full-length ballets – including the U.S. premiere of John Neumeier’s The Little Mermaid – but we will also offer the SF Ballet premiere of Fokine’s Petrouchka, as well as three world premieres by three unique and exciting choreographers, including Renato Zanella. I am also bringing back a variety of audience favorites, from Forsythe’s modern in the middle, somewhat elevated, to an all-Balanchine Program and Robbins’ comedic The Concert, so there will be something for everyone to enjoy.”

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Tomasson’s Swan Lake. Photo, Erik Tomasson

Program 1 opens Saturday, January 23rd and features the encore presentation of Tomasson’s Swan Lake which premiered on the 2009 Repertory Season. Set to the renowned score by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky, Tomasson’s newest production of Swan Lake (he first choreographed a production for the Company in 1988), is a re-imagining of the traditional story based on the 1895 choreography by Lev Ivanov and Marius Petipa. The work features original scenery and costume design by acclaimed designer Jonathan Fensom, lighting design by Jennifer Tipton, projection and video design by Sven Ortel, and hair, wig, and make-up design by Michael Ward.

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Taylor’s Company B.
Courtney Elizabeth and Sarah Van Patten. Photo, Chris Hardy

Program 2 opens Tuesday, February 9th with Jerome Robbins’ Opus 19/The Dreamer, a world premiere by Christopher Wheeldon, and the return of Paul Taylor’s Company B. Robbins’ Opus 19/The Dreamer, set to Sergei Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto No. 1 in D Major, was created in 1979 and premiered by New York City Ballet. The 21-minute piece featured Patricia McBride and Mikhail Baryshnikov in the original cast, and was first performed by SF Ballet in 1986 and last performed a year later. Christopher Wheeldon, choreographer and artistic director and co-founder of Morphoses/The Wheeldon Company, will create his sixth commissioned work for SF Ballet (nine of his works are currently in the Company’s repertory). Paul Taylor’s Company B, which was first premiered by Houston Ballet in 1991, is set to songs sung by the Andrews Sisters. SF Ballet first performed the work in 1993 and most recently on its 2005 Repertory Season.

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Balanchine’s Stravinsky Violin Concerto.
Yuan Yuan Tan and Damian Smith. Photo, Erik Tomasson

Program 3 (All-Balanchine Program) opens Thursday, February 11th with the return of three George Balanchine works: Serenade, Stravinsky Violin Concerto, and Theme and Variations. Balanchine’s seminal Serenade, first performed by students of the School of American Ballet in 1934, is set to Tchaikovsky’s Serenade for Strings in C. It was last performed by SF Ballet for the 2004 Balanchine Festival. Balanchine’s Stravinsky Violin Concerto, set to Igor Stravinsky’s Concerto for Violin and Orchestra in D Major, had its world premiere in 1972 as part of New York City Ballet’s Stravinsky Festival, and was last performed by the Company on the 2009 Repertory Season. Balanchine’s Theme and Variations is set to the final movement of Tchaikovsky’s Suite No. 3 for Orchestra in G Major and was premiered by American Ballet Theatre in 1947. The work for 26 dancers made its SF Ballet premiere in 1986 and was last performed on the 2005 Repertory Season.

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Forsythe’s in the middle, somewhat elevated.
Lorena Feijoo and Pascal Molat. Photo, Erik Tomasson

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Possokhov’s Diving Into The Lilacs. Photo, Erik Tomasson

Program 4 opens Tuesday, March 2nd and includes the encore presentation of Yuri Possokhov’s Diving into the Lilacs, the return of William Forsythe’s in the middle, somewhat elevated, and the SF Ballet premiere of Michel Fokine’s Petrouchka. Possokhov’s Diving into the Lilacs, set to Boris Tchaikovsky’s Sinfonietta for String Orchestra, was created for seven couples and premiered on the 2009 Repertory Season. Set to the music of Thom Willems, in the middle, somewhat elevated was first performed by the Paris Opéra Ballet at the Palais Garnier, in 1987. Created for nine dancers, the dance was the second Forsythe work to enter SF Ballet’s repertory and was first performed in 1989; the Company performed the work most recently on the 2009 Repertory Season. The SF Ballet premiere of Petrouchka, set to a score by Stravinsky, was first premiered in Paris by Sergei Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes in 1911. Set in nineteenth-century St. Petersburg, Petrouchka tells the story of a puppet with a human heart – a ballet representation of a universal character. The production was originally designed by Alexandre Benois, with a libretto created by both Benois and Stravinsky.

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Neumeier’s The Little Mermaid.
Yuan Yuan Tan. Photo, Erik Tomasson

Program 5 opens Saturday, March 20th with the United States premiere of Hamburg Ballet Director and Chief Choreographer John Neumeier’s The Little Mermaid, set to the commissioned music of Lera Auerbach.The full-length work was originally commissioned by the Royal Danish Ballet, in celebration of the 200th anniversary of Hans Christian Andersen’s birth. Neumeier’s modern and mature interpretation presents the parallels between the fairy tale and the story of its creator. The production, which premiered in 2005, also features scenic and costume design by Neumeier.

Program 6 opens Thursday, April 8th and includes the return of Tomasson’s “Haffner” Symphony, a world premiere by choreographer Renato Zanella, and the return of Alexei Ratmansky’s Russian Seasons. Helgi Tomasson’s “Haffner” Symphony, set to Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Symphony No. 35 in D Major, first premiered in 1991, as part of the Mozart & His Time Bicentennial Celebration. The Company last performed the work in 1999. SF Ballet will also perform a world premiere by Italian choreographer Renato Zanella, the former artistic director of the Vienna State Opera Ballet and the Vienna State Opera School. Zanella, also the former house choreographer for Stuttgart Ballet, has created numerous works for opera and ballet companies all over the world, including Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo, Deutsche Oper Berlin, and Teatro La Scala. Ratmansky’s Russian Seasons, set to a score by Leonid Desyatnikov, is a return to the former Bolshoi Ballet artistic director’s Russian roots. The work for 12 dancers was premiered by New York City Ballet as part of its 2006 Diamond Project and had its SF Ballet premiere in 2009.

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San Francisco Ballet in Robbins’ The Concert.
Photo, Erik Tomasson

Program 7 opens Friday, April 9th and features the return of Wheeldon’s Rush, a world premiere by Possokhov, and the encore presentation of Robbins’ The Concert (or, the Perils of Everybody). Wheeldon’s Rush, set to music by Bohuslav Martinu, was first premiered by SF Ballet at Scotland’s Edinburgh Festival in 2003 and had its San Francisco premiere by the Company a year later. Former SF Ballet Principal Dancer and current Choreographer in Residence Yuri Possokhov will create a new work for the Company. Robbins’ comedic The Concert, set to the music of Frédéric Chopin, was premiered by New York City Ballet in 1956. The spoof of a classical music concert, for 20 dancers, had its SF Ballet premiere in 1987 and was last performed by the Company on the 2009 Repertory Season.

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Tomasson’s Romeo & Juliet.
Sarah Van Patten and Pierre-François Vilanoba.
Photo, Erik Tomasson

Program 8 opens Saturday, May 1st with the return of Tomasson’s full-length classic Romeo & Juliet, set to the music of Prokofiev, with scenic and costume design by Jens-Jacob Worsaae and lighting design by Thomas R. Skelton. The full-length production was premiered on the 1994 Repertory Season. Based on the play by William Shakespeare, the ballet portrays ill-fated young lovers from competing families, the Capulets and the Montagues, in Renaissance Italy.

During the 2010 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.
Click here for ticket information to all programs: SF Ballet, 2010

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Tomasson’s Romeo & Juliet. Photo, Erik Tomasson

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Seán Martinfield
Sentinel Editor and Publisher
Seán Martinfield, who also serves as Fine Arts Critic, 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@comcast.net.

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