April 28, 2009, 8PM
I’m always a little sad at the end of the ballet season. As an audience member, seeing dancers attack new roles, revisit old ones, and expand their performance range feels fulfilling in some strange and usual way. And each season tends to be different, with various dancers rising to the occasion. These intricate developments can’t be predicted, but they’re sort of like the chili you make on a cold and rainy day: dependent on the ingredients you have at the time, heating time, and a little bit of luck. With this in mind, I watched San Francisco Ballet’s final program of the season (not including Tina LeBlanc’s farewell performance next Saturday evening) with a satisfying hunger in my belly.
Jorma Elo’s “Double Evil,” which premiered last season as part of the New Works Festival, shone brightly here as the evening’s closer. The work features odd quirks such at the women‘s derrieres pushed out behind their abnormally slanted tutus as they frequently stared ahead at the floor instead of up at their partners or the audience, but the slinky and peculiar movement using jagged arms, unexpected lifts, and what might be considered awkward yet incredibly inventive, almost nerdy choreography all came together in a whirlwind 27 minutes. The music flips back and forth between the quieter music of Phillip Glass and motivating percussion of Vladimir Martinov, and as it did, the eight dancers propelled themselves forward, using large bouts of momentum to continuously push ahead while still looking beautifully pretty. All of the dancers performed well, but especially Elana Altman and Pierre-François Vilanoba, who twinkled in the opening duet; in addition, she continues to amaze me with her various strengths and movement diversity. “Double Evil” may not have made a huge dent in the grand scheme of ballet, but Elo’s unique movement style and structure are both entertaining and imaginative nonetheless.
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Sarah Van Patten and Garen Scribner in Elo's Double Evil.
© Erik Tomasson
© Erik Tomasson