Fall For Dance Finale

(photo by Andrea Mohin, from NYTimes)

So, Fall For Dance wrapped up nicely; there were really no pieces on the last night’s program that I didn’t like. First on was the Aspen Santa Fe Ballet’s production of a Twyla Tharp dance I’d never seen, SWEET FIELDS, from 1996, which seemed to me a bit unlike her usual fare. It was joyous, spiritual, very lyrical, with dancers dressed in white flowing cloth, moving to Shaker hymnals. The one section that was very ‘Tharp-y’ was filled with breathtaking group lifts: at one point a group of men held one man up high above their heads, they suddenly released him and he rolled down, falling almost bungie-jump-like nearly to the floor, until they caught him at the very last second. The audience collectively gasped then applauded wildly.

(photo by Erik Tomasson of San Francisco Ballet’s Lorena Feijoo and Damian Smith from Voice of Dance)

Second on was San Francisco Ballet dancing Jerome Robbins’ lovely, ballroom-y IN THE NIGHT set to melodious Chopin played by an onstage pianist. The dance consists of three duets performed by three different couples — one the wondrous Yuan Yuan Tan (whom I’ve heard so much about; and she definitely lived up to her reputation!) with Ruben Martin; the second by Sofiane Sylve (who used to dance with New York City Ballet) and Tiit Helimets; and the third by the celebrated Cuban dancer Lorena Feijoo and Pierre-Francois Vilanoba. Tan and Martin represented a more mature, in love couple, their dancing very flowing and elegant, Sylve and Helimets I wasn’t sure about because to be honest I didn’t feel all that much from their dancing, and Feijoo (who’s a real firecracker) and Vilanoba (who kind of played her straight man, appearing humorously unable to figure her out, to foresee her antics, her wild jumps into his arms) the fun, young couple whose relationship centered around rather cutely played out sexual angst. The audience had a lot of fun, giggling throughout, particularly at Feijoo and Vilanoba.

I have to say, San Francisco Ballet, who are currently celebrating their 75th Anniversary, was a lovely company; they brought Robbins to life for me in a way I’ve seldom seen, and I look forward to seeing more of them at City Center later in the season.

(photo by Todd Rosenberg, of Hubbard Street Dance performing COR PERDUT, taken from Critical Dance)

Third was popular Spanish choreographer Nacho Duato’s Compania Nacional De Danza performing his COR PERDUT, a Gypsy-esque male / female duet between two likely lovers, each often running after the other playfully, then turning more serious, the man eventually picking up the woman, sweeping her off the ground, twirling her about. Very sweet theme, and the music — Turkish and sung in Catalan — was gorgeous.

(photo by Lois Greenfield of Paul Taylor Dance Company, taken from Ballet.co)

And closing out the festival was Paul Taylor Dance Company’s popular ESPLANADE, set to Bach and choreographed by Taylor in 1975. This was a lot of fun; as dancers ran around stage, whizzing about narrowly missing each other, played hopscotch with each other’s bodies laid out on the floor log-like, and finally flew across stage taking a flying leap into each other’s arms, the crowd went nuts with applause, giving a standing ovation.

Fun, but very tiring, 10 days…

Here is Claudia La Rocco’s review of the last program in the Times.

4 Comments

  1. Everyone seems to be talking about Lorena Feijoo and Vilanoba in the last duet in “In the Night”! I found the Robbins piece to be a bit bland, but maybe it was b/c when I saw it, it was sandwiched in between two very high energy pieces – Fancy Free and West Side Story suite. What were your thoughts on Tiit Helimets, who danced with Sofiane Sylve? I read a semi-negative account on him, and was wondering what you thought.

    Esplanade – what a great way to end a program. Sounds like fun, thanks for a great review!

  2. Hi Jolene — yeah, I might have thought it was bland if it was sandwiched in between those two ballets too! I liked that it had kind of a soft ballroom feel and I liked the Chopin and the onstage pianist. It was like Other Dances but with three different couples instead of only one. To be honest, Sofiane and Tiit didn’t really stand out very much to me; I remember the other two couples much better. Maybe it was because they didn’t seem to have as much of a “theme” to their dance, as the others did (cute and young and full of sexual angst versus older, more mature, romantic ‘sweep me off your feet’ kind of love). Did others not like Tiit in particular? Do you like him? I’d have to see him again in something else before I formed more of an opinion. I’ll definitely be watching out for him with SFBallet later this month!

  3. Tiit Helimets is probably my favorite male dancer in SFB (actually, one of my faves – there are so many to choose from!) – a very regal, princely air and a beautiful dancer. His Giselle completely blew me away. That’s why I was wondering how his dancing was – I think it was in a review that said that he wasn’t up on the same level as Sofiane was, and I was wondering how he danced. Maybe it was just the material, or maybe Sofiane was just amazing. You’re right, I remember almost nothing from the second duet of In the Night. 😛

    An excerpt from my review of Helimets with Yuan Yuan Tan in Giselle: (I’ll spare you the rest of the long review)

    “The second act however, was unforgettable. Tiit Helimets got a chance to shine, and his chemistry with Tan was mesmerizing, as their bodies seemed to melt together and speak as one. Helimets has gorgeous extensions to spare and a reserved princely aristocratic air, but I was most taken by his complete in-the-moment embodiment of emotion, from his facial expressions (seen a little bit in the photo above) to the way he related to Tan. Every single moment when he was dancing, Albrecht’s acknowledgment of the gravity of his actions was manifested in Helimet’s entire body, as if he was dancing for the last time with the love of his life. Nothing was outrightly external, but restrained emotions simmered, with passion seen in yearning extensions that were held a second longer, and Albrecht’s guilt and Giselle’s forgiveness seen in every movement.”

    http://www.saturdaymatineeblog.com/2008/02/two-very-different-giselles-san-francisco-ballet/

  4. Aw! Well, you have definitely whetted my appetite — I will most surely be looking for him at City Center. I can’t wait!

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