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San Francisco Ballet dazzles in Paris

Yuan Yuan Tan and Damian Smith in Wheeldon's 'After the Rain'
Yuan Yuan Tan and Damian Smith in Wheeldon's 'After the Rain'
Erik Tomasson

Following its highly successful appearance at this year’s Spoleto Festival, San Francisco Ballet is now dazzling Paris for the 10th anniversary of Les Etés de la Danse, with a repertoire of more than 18 works, by 12 choreographers, across a season which spans 15 days, each of which features a different program. It’s little wonder that the official website of Spoleto 57 dei Due Monde refers to SF Ballet as “one of the most dynamic companies in the world”.

This summer, the Company returns to Les Etés de la Danse for the first time since its appearance at the festival’s inaugural season in 2005. Les Etés de la Danse was founded by Valéry Colin - a former dancer with the Paris Opera Ballet, and now the festival’s director - in response to the lack of major performing arts presentations in Paris during the summer. The honorary president is Madame Jacques Chirac, former First Lady of France.

Held annually, Les Etés de la Danse attracts some of the world’s greatest classical and contemporary companies to the city considered by many to be the European capital of dance. Thousands of people from all over the world are drawn to the festival’s performances, films, open classes, exhibitions and educational programs.

San Francisco Ballet’s repertoire for these performances in Paris features a wide range of works - both classical and contemporary - ably demonstrating the Company’s remarkable versatility. Some of the greatest names in choreography are included in the line-up - George Balanchine (Agon and The Four Temperaments - two of his 'Black and White' ballets - Symphony in C, Allegro Brillante, and Brahms-Schoenberg Quartet), Jerome Robbins (In the Night and Glass Pieces), Kenneth MacMillan (the pas de deux from Concerto) and Frederic Ashton (Voices of Spring).

SF Ballet’s Artistic Director & Principal Choreographer, Helgi Tomasson has three works in the repertoire - Caprice, Chaconne for Piano and Two Dancers and The Fifth Season - and there are two ballets from Alexei Ratmansky’s Shostakovich Trilogy which had its West Coast premiere during the Company’s 2014 season.

Christopher Wheeldon, Artistic Associate of The Royal Ballet and one of today’s most prolific choreographers, is represented by the pas de deux from After the Rain, Ghosts and Within the Golden Hour, and there are works by SF Ballet Choreographer in Residence Yuri Possokhov, by Mark Morris, Edwaard Liang, Hans van Manen, Royal Ballet Artist in Residence, Liam Scarlett, Johan Kobborg, Val Caniparoli and Renato Zanella.

The critics have been impressed by SF Ballet’s performances too.

Laurine Mortha of Bachtrack refers to the Company as “a constellation of brilliant performers”.

Hanna Weibye from theartsdesk describes San Francisco Ballet as “a critic’s dream ...... dancers of extraordinary quality trained to uncompromising standards of excellence ....”. Referring to the performance of Robbins’ Glass Pieces, she writes: “The audience went wild, and no wonder. How fortunate for us all that there are many more nights of these particular Americans in Paris.”

David Mead from Critical Dance describes Wheeldon’s After the Rain pas de deux as “one of the most beautiful and intense ..... created in recent years ..... Perfection”.

San Francisco Ballet appears at Les Etés de la Danse, Théâtre du Châtelet, Paris, until July 26. For further information, visit www.sfballet.org.