SFB's New Works Festival (Program B)

San Francisco Ballet
Works Festival, Program B
Saturday, April 26, 2008, 2PM

The city’s been abuzz with chatter surrounding San Francisco Ballet’s New Works Festival, a three-program, multi-week spectacle of new choreography created by some of ballet’s most loved and well regarded dance makers, and Helgi Tomasson, looking to knock everyone’s socks and slipp
ers off, seems to have delivered. At least, if Program B is any indication, I should be walking barefoot through the city for months to come.

Due to some personal scheduling, I started the Festival out of order, yet my gut tells me this shouldn’t be a problem. Ideally, each program should be able to stand on its own, yet as a festival, they should complement each other, too. In addition, each program’s individual works should also balance one another, yet Saturday’s matinee didn’t quite achieve my own expectations. Part of that may have been my fault, as who knows what to expect from something titled “New Works Festival.” Similar to the new InterContinental Hotel down on Howard Street, you’ve got to see it to believe it. And so I did.

The evening’s winner was a tie: Mark Morris’ continuously leg-kicking “Joyride” worked my brain into overtime while James Kudelka’s “The Ruins Proclaim The Building Was Beautiful” forcefully sauntered forward. With eight dancers clad in Isaac Mizrahi’s metallic unitards, “Joyride” takes no prisoners. The work highlights kicks, sharp arabesques, and wonderfully executed in-sync pirouettes, just as John Adams’ score (with him conducted the orchestra on this sunny afternoon) punches along at breakneck speed. Sarah Van Patten and Gennadi Nedvigin, dressed in shiny gold, led the way, steering everyone down a pulsating path of skill and gusto. Young corps member Jennifer Stahl, swathed in gunmetal grey, showed amazing control, and Rory Hohenstein flowed through the ever-challenging movement with a sexy naturalness.

Kudelka’s “Ruins” explores the social undertones of humanity, and the San Francisco Ballet Orchestra, under the direction of David Briskin, brought Rodney Sharman’s score, based on pieces by composer César Franck, to life. The darkly lit corps of women, adorned in pink sliced-and-diced tutus and nests of wispy hair (potentially by Helena Bonham Carter but credited to James Searle), waltzed like rosy waves from corner to corner...

For more, go here.

Sarah Van Patten and Gennadi Nedvigin in Morris' Joyride.
Elana Altman and Aaron Orza in Kudelka's The Ruins Proclaim The Building Was Beautiful.

All photos © Erik Tomasson

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