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San Francisco - Bay Area Columns

San Francisco Bay Area
by Heather Desaulniers
September 2012 Reviews

San Francisco Bay Area
by Heather Desaulniers
Summer 2012 Reviews

San Francisco Bay Area
by Heather Desaulniers
June 2012 Reviews

San Francisco Bay Area
by Heather Desaulniers
April 2012 Reviews

San Francisco Bay Area
by Heather Desaulniers
Winter 2012 Reviews Part 2

San Francisco Bay Area
by Heather Desaulniers
Winter 2012 Reviews Part 1

San Francisco Bay Area
by Heather Desaulniers
December 2011 Reviews

San Francisco Ballet
London Tour 2012

Program A - Mixed Bill
by Stuart Sweeney
September 14, 2012 -- Sadler's Wells Theatre, London, UK
Three programmes brought ten pieces, many of them UK premières... Director Helgi Tomasson chose Balanchine's “Divertimento No.15” to open proceedings and this was a fine choice for several reasons: it's a beautiful work, but also an ensemble piece, providing a series of variations showing off a range of the company's dancers.

Program B - ‘Trio’, ‘Ghosts’, ‘Guide to Strange Places’
by Charotte Kasner
September 15, 2012 -- Sadler's Wells Theatre, London, UK
Christopher Wheeldon’s “Ghosts” is a curiously compelling piece with a backdrop that suggests a burning, relentless sun; an odd choice for disembodied souls. The Company demonstrated both ethereal lightness and a literal dead weight as the movement alternated between low figures and dragging, upright patterns.

Program C - ‘Beaux’, ‘Classical Symphony’, ‘RakU’, ‘Within the Golden Hour’
by Charotte Kasner
September 15, 2012 -- Sadler's Wells Theatre, London, UK
The final programme of San Francisco’s London visit was packed with goodies. There was a packed house too, with expectations high all round. The evening opened with “Beaux”, delightful Mark Morris choreography and a wonderful backcloth by Isaac Mizrahi with costumes that, not so much matched, as camouflaged.


UK 2012 National Dance Awards - Nominations
by David Mead
November 9, 2012 - The Place, London, UK

Each year the Dance Section of the Critics Circle, the national body for arts critics in the UK, organises the National Dance Awards in celebration of Britain’s vibrant and diverse dance culture.
The nominations for the 13th National Dance Awards, covering performances in the 2011-2012 season (from September 2011 to August 2012) were announced at a reception at The Place on November 9.

The Place Prize for Dance - Semi Finals
by Jessica Wilson
September 22, 2012 - The Place, London, UK

The Place Prize for dance, sponsored by Bloomberg, is the biggest private source of commissions for new short works in British dance and has just returned for its fifth edition. For 2012, 208 entries were received; the highest number of entrants of any year to date. From these, 16 new dance works were commissioned for the four semi-finals. It’s a prize worth winning, with a total of £35,000 up for grabs at the Finals next April.

New Choreographer 2012
by David Mead
September 22, 2012 - Performance Hall, Eslite Xinyi Store, Taipei

Going to a bookstore to watch dance. I know it sounds odd. But the performance hall on the top floor of Eslite’s Xinyi store in Taipei proved to be an excellent venue, although with the audience on three sides, not one without its challenges.  Getting opportunities to show work can be tricky for new choreographers. So top marks also to Ho Hsiao-mei, artistic director of Meimage Dance Company...



The Royal Ballet: 'Viscera', 'Infra', 'Fool's Paradise'
by David Mead
November7, 2012 -- Royal Opera House, London, UK

It only takes a few seconds of “Viscera” to see why Liam Scarlett, appointed only last week as The Royal Ballet’s first Artist-in-Residence, is so much in demand. It is a well-crafted ballet of contrasts; opening and closing sections packed with velocity and attack bookending a cooler second movement adagio.  “Viscera” has more than a few nods to George Balanchine.  Indeed, for the first few seconds I thought I had stumbled into a New York City Ballet performance by mistake. That is probably no surprise.

Alberta Ballet: 'Othello'
by Kate Snedeker
November 2, 2012 -- Northern Jubilee Theatre, Edmonton, AB

Welcome to the Kelley McKinlay show! Kirk Peterson’s production of “Othello” may be less than memorable, but on Friday evening it served as a perfect vehicle to display the unforgettable talents of Alberta Ballet’s leading man, Kelley McKinlay. From his moody opening solo, McKinlay , as Iago the ensign whose jealous machinations result in murder, heartbreak and suicide, became the electrifying centerpiece of the ballet. This was not “Othello”, but “Iago”.

Vincent Dance Theatre: 'Motherland'
by David Mead
November 1, 2012 -- Patrick Centre, Birmingham, UK

Charlotte Vincent’s new “Motherland” is a challenging, multi-layered and often thought-provoking journey through motherhood, women’s choices and image. Much of the time that journey is messy. A recurring scene sees Aurora Lubos walk on in an elegant black evening dress and high heels,
red wine bottle in hand.

Birmingham Royal Ballet: 'Take Five', 'Lyric Pieces', 'Grosse Fuge'
by David Mead
October 24, 2012 -- Sadler's Wells Theatre, London, UK

It’s an easy on the eye, easy on the ear opening to this enjoyable triple bill from Birmingham Royal Ballet. In “Take Five”, David Bintley matches the perkiness of Dave Brubeck’s music well. It’s all very laid back and light. In a way, that’s the problem. It’s almost too laid back and you start to yearn for something a little more edgy, or at least with a bit more pizazz.

Phoenix Dance Theatre: Crossing Points - 'Signal', 'Catch', 'Soundclash', 'Melt'
by David Mead
October 23, 2012 -- Linbury Studio Theatre, Royal Opera House, London, UK

Since her appointment as artistic director in 2009, Sharon Watson has re-established Phoenix Dance Theatre as one of the UK’s top contemporary dance companies. This quadruple-header of revivals and new works once again demonstrated the power and strength of the dancers.

National Dance Theatre of Jamaica: 50th Anniversary Tour
by Thea Nerissa Barnes
September 23, 2012 -- Fairfield Concer, London, UK

NDTC will use its 50th anniversary to "celebrate our passage of Renewal and Continuity" by presenting a variety of works responsible for shaping the identity of NDTC while affording investigations of differing modes of dance and music making. NDTC has a stellar reputation and has throughout its 50 years performed in the Caribbean, United States, and United Kingdom.

American Ballet Theatre: Quad and Triple Bills
by Jerry Hochman
October 16 and 20 (E), 2012 -- City Center, New York, NY
Attending the opening and closing nights of a given American Ballet Theatre season may not be unusual, particularly for a balletomaniac; attending an opening night and a closing night in the same week is. But ABT’s abbreviated Fall Season at City Center (seven performances over five days of five ballets, one segment of a new ballet, and three pas de deux) proved to be a microcosm of where ABT is at this point in time.

American Ballet Theatre: Triple Bill
by Colleen Boresta
October 20 (m), 2012 -- City Center, New York, NY
At the Saturday, October 20th matinee, American Ballet Theatre performed one new work and two company staples. The new piece is Alexei Ratmansky’s ‘Symphony #9’ and the other works are Mark Morris’ ‘Drink To Me Only With Thine Eyes’ and Agnes de Mille’s ‘Rodeo’.  ‘Drink To Me Only With Thine Eyes’ is a light, playful work set to piano pieces by Virgil Thomson.

American Ballet Theatre: Triple Bill
by Colleen Boresta
October 19 (m), 2012 -- City Center, New York, NY

It seems almost like American Ballet Theatre is two separate companies. One ABT dances the classics at the 4,000 seat Metropolitan Opera House with a myriad of foreign guest artists. The other company performs smaller pieces at New York’s City Center and the soloists and corps members get a chance to shine. I’m glad to have the chance to see both ABTs.

Rambert Dance Company and Chunky Move
Triple Bill and 'Mortal Engine'

by Stuart Sweeney
October 16 and 20, 2012 -- Sadler's Wells Theatre and Queen Elizabeth Hall, London, UK

Rambert Dance Company, the oldest in the UK, provided a triple bill with a short extra work. This is a common structure for Rambert, drawing on its rich history with works as far back as the 1930's, combined with several new commissions each year. Here, no less than three of the works are “new to the company” revivals of 20th C. works, combined with a new commission, which could easily have come from the same century.

Oregon Ballet Theatre: Body Beautiful Program
by Dean Speer
October 13, 2012 -- Keller Auditorium, Portland, OR

Oregon Ballet Theatre’s Fall venture onto the Keller Auditorium stage is based upon – and done in collaboration with the Portland Art Museum – this art. The first on the mixed bill was the iconic “Apollo” made by George Balanchine in 1928 and staged here to include the birth and concluding ascension scenes by Balanchine authority Francia Russell.

Men in Dance: 'Men = 10, Women = 1'
by Dean Speer
October 12, 2012 -- Broadway Performance Hall, Seattle, WA

While none of the pieces this biennium made me think, “Wow! That’s great choreography,” the performance level of the adults was consistently and refreshingly high. I say “adults” as Kaleidoscope Dance Company, which presented a tribute to missed Seattle dance veteran, the late Jesse Jaramillo, is comprised of youth.

English National Ballet: 'Sleeping Beauty'
by David Mead
October 17, 2012 -- Milton Keynes Theatre, Milton Keynes, UK

It seemed nerves were everywhere. There were certainly a few more wobbles that usual. Mind you, as if “Sleeping Beauty” was not tricky enough to dance, this was not only the first night of the season and the first performance under new Artistic Director Tamara Rojo, but Rojo herself was dancing Aurora.

Richard Alston Dance Company: Triple Bill
by David Mead
October 16, 2012 -- Derngate, Northampton, UK

The idea that contemporary dance should be all about the realisation of music in movement is something that increasingly seems to pass choreographers by. It is, though, a notion that has served Richard Alston well for over 40 years. Just what a master at putting steps to music he is was clear for all to see in this evening of hugely watchable, sophisticated dance.

Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet: Triple Bill
by David Mead
October 11, 2012 -- Sadler's Wells Theatre, London, UK

All of the three works on show were well danced. The dancers all showed great strength and clarity of intent. Cedar Lake is not what most people would call a ballet company and certainly not a classical one, but although the dance was very contemporary in nature, what one might call conventional technique peeked through occasionally. Beneath everything there is very clearly some excellent training.

Birmingham Royal Ballet: 'Swan Lake'
by David Mead
October 4, 2012 -- Birmingham Hippodrome, Birmingham, UK

“Swan Lake” is not a fairy story in the “Sleeping Beauty” mould. If you need convincing, just listen to some of the complex and moody themes in Tchaikovsky’s masterful, almost symphonic score. I like my “Swan Lakes” to reflect that, and openings don’t come much darker than the funeral cortege of the prologue in this 1981 Peter Wright and Galina Samsova production. As the story moves on, Wright and Samsova also understand that while virtuosity is important, it loses everything without an accompanying poetry and delicacy.

Sasha Waltz and Guests: 'Continu'
by Charlotte Kasner
September 28, 2012 -- Sadler's Wells Theatre, London, UK

“Continu” opens with a loud and furious work played by a solo percussionist on tuned and untuned percussion. The women of the company jiggle and whirl in a ritualistic dance that hints of “Rite of Spring”. Waltz makes much use of unison, repetitive motifs, her dancers looking almost zoological, like some fantastic amoeba or Petri dish of dividing cells. Arms flail above heads and link, hands and fingers twitch in a Tourette’s dance of madness.

Huang Yi & Yu Chien: 'Double Yellow Lines', 'Whispers'
by David Mead
September 27, 2012 -- Experimental Theater, National Theater, Taipei

Huang Yi is noted as a choreographer who likes to combine dance with technology. Past pieces have included computer played violins and a spinning boom complete with cameras that send live images to screens surrounding the audience. “Double Yellow Lines” is about as different as it gets. In a complete about turn, Huang has stripped things down to the bare basics. There’s no set and minimal lighting; just two dancers and live music from French-Vietnamese composer and pianist An Ton That, also known as Anken.

Cloud Gate Dance Theatre: 'Nine Songs'
by David Mead
September 15 & 21, 2012 -- National Theater, Taipei

Lin Hwai-min has said twice that “Nine Songs” would never be returning, first in 2001, then again in 2007. When almost all the costumes and sets were destroyed in the fire at the company studios in 2008, it really did seem that maybe that was it. But this Cloud Gate classic refused to die. The sets, costumes and soundtrack have been recreated. Like a phoenix rising it is reborn, and many hurrahs for that.

Korhan Basaran and the Artists: 'This is Not a Hamburger'
by Cecly Placenti
September 25, 2012 -- Ailey Citigroup Theatre, New York, NY

What do an evangelizing homeless man, a fallen angel, pigeons, high-heeled fashionistas, annoyed subway travelers, and self-important super-heros have in common? In Korhan Basaran’s “This is Not a Hamburger,” they come together to paint a humorous yet poignant picture of New York City life. Seemingly fascinated with the day to day aspects of NYC living- the energy, contradictions, people- Basaran translates his observations into an evening length piece that matches the fierce, demanding pace of New York City.

Pacific Northwest Ballet: 'Cinderella'
by Dean Speer
September 21 and 22, 2012 -- McCaw Hall, Seattle, Washington

When a former head of the University of Washington’s Professional Actors Training Program was asked what he thought and reported to us that he found Pacific Northwest Ballet’s production of “Cinderella” lovely but a bit dull, it got me thinking why.

Alberta Ballet: 'Divertimento No. 15', 'The Four Temperaments', 'In the Upper Room'
by Kate Snedeker
September 12, 2012 -- Northern Jubilee Theatre, Edmonton, AB

Tracing the threads of ballet from neoclassical to Tharp, the evening’s performance revealed both the growth and the promise of the Alberta Ballet. The trio of ballets – Balanchine’s ‘Divertimento No. 15’ and ‘The Four Temperaments’, and Twyla Tharp’s ‘In the Upper Room’ – could not have been better suited to the company’s strengths. These are ballets where the focus is on the group, and Alberta Ballet is at its best when the company is together on stage.






New York City Ballet
Fall 2012

'Apollo', 'Agon', 'Rubies'
by Colleen Boresta
October 14, 2012 -- Koch Theater, New York, NY
New York City Ballet ended its fall 2012 season on Sunday, October 14th, with three George Balanchine/Igor Stravinsky ballets. New York City Ballet has been highlighting the Balanchine/Stravinsky relationship this whole fall season. The works on Sunday afternoon were ‘Apollo’, ‘Agon’, and ‘Rubies’.

'Danses Concertantes', 'The Cage', 'Andantino', 'Symphony in C'
by Colleen Boresta
October 13, 2012 -- Koch Theater, New York, NY
New York City Ballet’s 2012 fall season has been devoted primarily to the collaboration between George Balanchine and Igor Stravinsky. The October 13th matinee features one Balanchine/ Stravinsky work,’Danses Concertantes’, and one Jerome Robbins/Stravinsky ballet, ‘The Cage’. The other pieces on the program are ‘Andantino’ with music by Tchaikovsky and choreography by Robbins and ‘Symphony in C’, a Balanchine ballet set to Bizet’s score of the same name.

Mixed Bills - September Stravinsky Trio
by Jerry Hochman
September 22 and 29, 2012 -- Koch Theater, New York, NY
It is tempting to describe the series of Balanchine/Stravinsky collaborations as displaying a creative evolution, and it is a creative evolution - to an extent. But to this viewer, Balanchine was a musical explorer, seeing music and applying movement to it, rather than imposing movement on it. So although one way to view this series of performances is as a Balanchine/Stravinsky timeline of sorts from “Apollo”

Mixed Bills - Balanchine & New Choreography
by Jerry Hochman
October 2 and 6, 2012 -- Koch Theater, New York, NY
These two performances further demonstrate where NYCB is as a company, and where it can go. A new ballet that gives hope of stellar choreographic efforts to come. A classic ballet, danced superbly with new legs and faces And dancers being given opportunities to grow, and audiences given opportunities to watch them live up to, and exceed, expectations.

Gala - Honoring Valentino
by Jerry Hochman
September 20, 2012 -- Koch Theater, New York, NY
If you’re into haute couture, last night’s New York City Ballet Fall Gala performance at the David H. Koch Theater was your cup of asti spumante. The gala was billed as ‘celebrating legendary fashion designer' Valentino Garavani, and the house was filled to virtual capacity with patrons who either wear, or aspire to wear, Valentino...

editors' choice

· 10th International Competition for the Erik Bruhn Prize
November 28, 2012 - Four Seasons Centre, Toronto, ON
Young dancers from the Royal Ballet, National Ballet of Canada, Royal Danish Ballet, American Ballet Theatre and the Hamburg Ballet compete for the Erik Bruhn Prize. A choreographic prize will also be awarded for the top contemporary pas de deux

For ballet-dance magazine

Executive Editor
Kate Snedeker
Executive Editor 2003-2005

Mary Ellen Hunt
Focus and Photo Editors

Elizabeth McPherson, Dean Speer

Associate Editors & Compositors
Francis Timlin, Holly Messitt, Lori Ibay, Azlan Ezaddin, Jerry Hochman, Carmel Morgan, Heather Desaulniers

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