SF Ballet, Program 4

Robbins, the boy wonder
San Francisco Ballet
Program 4
March 6, 2008, 8PM

As San Francisco Ballet celebrates its 75 years of pointe shoes, faux snow, and tulle, it also honors one of America’s best-loved choreographers, Jerome Robbins. Robbins, who passed away 10 years ago, brought out the sass and flair of contemporary ballet. While best known to the average person for rhythmic snapping and double passé hops in the musical and movie versions of “West Side Story,” Robbins made handfu
ls of well-crafted dances over a 54-year career. SF Ballet’s Program 4 showcases three of Robbins’ ballets: his first official jaunt into dancemaking with “Fancy Free”; a retrospective of love and lovers in “In the Night”; and the toe-tapping “West Side Story Suite.”

Dancers, and ballet dancers at that, are normally known for being quiet. They leap quietly, wave and spin their arms to mime when it’s time to dance, and whisper like tiny mice while waiting in the wings. In “West Side Story Suite,” though, they sing, both as a chorus and solos, a reworked and shorted version of Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim’s “West Side Story.” On this opening night, Rory Hohenstein, leading the Jets as Riff, belted out “Cool” while strutting about the stage. His singing was adequate, but he shouldn’t quit his day job. Shannon Roberts, a dark-haired, blue-eyed corps member, shone as the fiery Anita, and along with Nicole Grand as Rosalia, they sang and shimmied their hearts out in “America.” Roberts’ portrayal is a break out performance. Here’s hoping to more golden opportunities for her in the future.

For more, go here.

San Francisco Ballet in Robbins' "West Side Story Suite."
Photo © Erik Tomasson

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