PROGRAM 3 – SF BALLET Presents Three Balanchine Masterworks

Music by Tchaikovsky and Stravinsky, conducted by David LaMarche and Martin West, and featuring solo violinist Franklin D’Antonio

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By Seán Martinfield
Sentinel Editor and Publisher
Photo by Lynn Imanaka

San Francisco Ballet’s PROGRAM 3 is an exquisite blending of concert music and the classic choreography of George Balanchine. The triptych begins with music by Tchaikovsky, the Serenade in C for String Orchestra, Op. 48. It is the first of Balanchine’s works to have been created in America and was first presented in 1935 by the School of American Ballet. This week’s opening night cast featured Lorena Feijóo, Sofiane Sylve, Sarah Van Patten, Tiit Helimets, and Brett Bauer. The beauty of Serenade is it’s deceptive simplicity. “It’s like an ebb and flow,” says Elyse Borne, in charge of re-staging, “there’s confusion and then instantly there’s order.” It’s complex geometrical patterns and classical lines set in the midst of a non-story presentation are completely captivating. The soft and willowy costume designs taken from the originals created by Barbara Karinska and the lighting patterns of designer Ronald Bates compliment the music’s familiar themes and the ballet’s overall polished aesthetic.

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Sarah Van Patten and Tiit Helimets in Balanchine’s Serenade.
Photo, Erik Tomasson

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Brett Bauer, Sofiane Sylve, Sarah Van Patten, and Lorena Feijóo
Photo, Erik Tomasson.

Click here to view a segment from Balanchine’s Serenade:

The second segment is set to Igor Stravinsky’s Violin Concerto in D. The composer’s patron commissioned it 1831. While he was working on it, Stravinsky had unlimited access to Polish violinist Samuel Dushkin. The pair would later record the work and tour together. Balanchine enjoyed a hugely successful relationship with Stravinksky, stretching back to 1928 and their collaboration on Apollo.

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SAMUEL DUSHKIN, violinist and IGOR STRAVINSKY, composer

There is much subtext and tension in this fiery Concerto in D. In contrast to the Tchaikovsky Serenade, Balanchine’s choreography explores the extreme intensities of human exchange. And there was plenty of fire and music in the pit with Violinist Franklin D’Antonio and Conductor Martin West. Embodying it all brilliantly were soloists Sofiane Sylve, Pierre-François Vilanoba, Yuan Yuan Tan and Anthony Spaulding. View the clip from Stravinsky Violin Concerto:

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Sofiane Sylve & Pierre-François Vilanoba and Yuan Yuan Tan & Anthony Spaulding
Balanchine’s Stravinsky Violin Concerto. Photos, Erik Tomasson

The final dance, Theme and Variations, is pure Classical Ballet, with no-holds-barred tiaras, men in tights, and a magnificent pas de deux for the leading couple. Opening Night featured the lovely and very precise Vanessa Zahorian and Davit Karapetyan, fresh from his sensational appearance on Opening Night in Jerome Robbins’ Opus 19/The Dreamer.

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Vanessa Zahorian and Davit Karapetyan
Balanchine’s Theme and Variations. Photo, Erik Tomasson

Balanchine’s choreography is abundant with seemingly impossible challenges. “Choreographically there are things you just have to do,” says Helgi Tomasson, “there’s no way around it. It’s like [Balanchine’s] Symphony in C – the more they dance that, the stronger they get and the more they hold their technique.” Scheduled for today’s matinee are Maria Kochetkova and Taras Domitro. Lorena Feijoo and Vitor Luiz will dance the 8:00 PM performance.
Click here for ticket information: PROGRAM 3

View a segment of Balanchine’s Theme and Variations:

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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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