BWW Reviews: San Francisco Ballet Opening Night in New York
I was glad to see the San Francisco Ballet back in New York. As far as I'm concerned, they could visit more often than every five years.
So it is with some displeasure that I write about the company's mixed bill presented on opening night. The San Francisco Ballet's reputation for commissioning new works is highly commendable. Only a few other companies have the capability-and sheer will power, not to mention resources, to do this. I offer my heartfelt congratulations to Helgi Tomasson and his staff.
So let's get to the ballets, all New York premieres. Tomasson's Trio, set to the music of Tchaikovsky's, String Sextet, "souvenir de Florence," was a wonderful way to present the company. Polished, poised, technically beyond description, I was impressed beyond words. I wish I could say the same about the ballet. Here I don't blame Tomasson's choreography as much as I do the music he selected. In the best ballets that use Tchaikovsky's music, Balanchine's Serenade, Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux, and Theme and Variations, the music is like an undercurrent that thrusts and propels the dance forward. It's not a backdrop; it's a dramatic motivator, even if it's a so-called abstract ballet. But the Sextet is static and dull. It does not talk. Without a musical dialogue, there is no ballet. Even the beautiful dancing of Vanessa Zhaorian, Vitor Luiz, Sarah van Patte, Tii Helmets, Anthony Spaulding, Maria Kochetkova and Gennadi Nedvigin could not compensate for the ballet's blandness. I am positive that I am in the minority here, but the music was only used once for a John Taras ballet at New York City Ballet that was quickly dropped from the repertoire. I don't see Trio having a long life.
Christopher Wheeldon, who seems to be everywhere these days but Kazakhstan, choreographed Ghosts, a moody, ethereal ballet. With music by C.F. Kip Winger, who studied ballet and now has his own rock band, the ballet seemed headed for a shadowy, disconnected atmosphere, that place where everything is on the verge of eruption, but fails to do so. And that's exactly what we got.