SFB's New Works Festival (Program C)

San Francisco Ballet
New Works Festival, Program C
May 3, 2008, 2PM

San Francisco Ballet’s New Works Festival is still the talk of the town, and luckily I was able to catch a matinée of Program C, featuring three very diverse ballets. This afternoon's cast showcased mainly dancers from the corps de ballet and soloists, a refreshing treat perhaps foreshadowing the company's future, and if so, this vision is grand.

Val Caniparoli's "Ibsen's House," gets my vote as winner of the afternoon. With dark fabric and a brightly draped "window" adorning the back, the 10 dancers emotionally poured through Caniparoli’s circular and attractive movement while portraying various characters from five Henrik Ibsen's plays, each focusing on women's place in society. These women aren’t cookie-cutter, and Caniparoli intends to prove it. Obviously, the ladies were the focus here, dressed in Sandra Woodall's dark jewel-tone dresses. Lorena Feijoo, in burgundy as Hedda Gabler, treaded lightly as she expansively lept forward and extended her arms, and Aaron Orza (a last-minute replacement for David Arce), as her husband, seemed indifferent to her needs. Clara Blanco shone as the young Nora Helmer, and Luke Willis as Torvald Helmer picked her up like a doll whether in second position en pointe or grasping his neck more like a father than a husband. I greatly enjoyed seeing the glowing Blanco in a featured role: she's got lovely, pure technique plus a special presence. Courtney Elizabeth and Pierre Françios Villanoba played the couple from “Lady from the Sea” with electricity and passion, but Patricia Perez, looking lost compared to the other women, danced somewhat tentatively with Steven Norman as the couple from “Rosmersholm.” Dana Genshaft, with enchanting musicality, and Garen Scribner paired well as the mother and son from “Ghosts,” dancing naturally and with confidence. “Ibsen’s House” featured innovative lifts along with 10 dancers’ sensitive and dramatic performances, and to top it off, Dvoràk’s “Piano Quintet in A Major, Op. 81” sounded divine from the pit. Caniparoli sure has a hit on his hands.

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Dana Genshaft in Caniparoli's Ibsen's House.
© Erik Tomasson

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