The San Francisco Treats: Ballet Rich in Rare Delicacies
By Sarah Kaufman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, November 27, 2008; Page C01
Is San Francisco now ballet's new boomtown? This is where you'll find the nation's oldest ballet company, the San Francisco Ballet, which last April marked its 75th anniversary with a New Works Festival that produced 10 world premieres. If solid gold was conspicuously absent from that affair, the effort yielded a handful of interesting works, more than can be said for the ballet output of any other city in any recent season.
Lucky for us, an appearance at the Kennedy Center is also part of this company's birthday celebrations. Armed with two of the best of its festival premieres -- one by Mark Morris, the other by Christopher Wheeldon -- the troupe on Tuesday night gave one of those rare performances that starts strong, continues to build and ends in heady gobs of Chantilly cream and Cointreau.
Delicious, sophisticated and very satisfying stuff, indeed. (The company's stay in town continues tomorrow through Sunday, when it performs "Giselle." )
The troupe opened the program with a classic: a polished account of George Balanchine's "The Four Temperaments." It's no surprise the dancers shone in this work. Former New York City Ballet principal Helgi Tomasson has led the company for nearly a quarter century; he was a reliable and courteous Balanchine dancer, and he is a serious and tasteful director. His dancers have a uniform appearance: linear and lifted up in the ribs. They show us the classical vocabulary stretched to the extreme, as Balanchine intended. Legs swing up to high noon, feet are arched like talons, spines bend back to tomorrow, particularly in the case of Taras Domitro, a recent Cuban acquisition who danced the "Melancholic" variation in "Four Temperaments."
Domitro looks young enough to play the title role in "Billy Elliot." This boyishness coupled with his ability to fold himself over backward, or to wheel around and plunge precipitously to the floor, made his solo all the more poignantly desperate. Another moment to relish was the unhurried musical ease in Vanessa Zahorian and Joan Boada's pas de deux in the "Sanguinic" variation, where Paul Hindemith's majestic score seemed to swirl around them like water.
... (Registration may be required)