Program 1 of San Francisco Ballet’s 80th Repertory Season opens on Tuesday, January 29 - the first in a series of eight varied and exciting line-ups, which will keep the attention of ballet lovers closely focused on the War Memorial Opera House until May 12, when the final program closes.
Highlights of the season include the US premiere of Christopher Wheeldon’s full-length ballet, ‘Cinderella’, the Northern California premiere of John Neumeier’s ‘Nijinsky’ - performed by the Hamburg Ballet - the first performance by San Francisco ballet of Serge Lifar’s ‘Suite en Blanc’’ and world premieres of works by Wayne McGregor, Alexei Ratmansky and the Company’s own Choreographer in Residence, Yuri Possokhov.
There are also works by celebrated choreographers such as George Balanchine, Jerome Robbins, John Cranko, Rudolf Nureyev, Edwaard Liang, Mark Morris, Ashley Page, and SF Ballet’s Artistic Director and Principal Choreographer, Helgi Tomasson.
‘Suite en Blanc’ is the opening work on Tuesday evening - a one-act ballet which Lifar created for the Paris Opera Ballet. It premiered in Zurich in 1943, with Lifar and Yvette Chauvire in the principal roles. Designed as a showcase for technical virtuosity, ‘Suite en Blanc’ is set to music taken from Edouard Lalo’s score for Petipa’s short-lived 1882 ballet, ‘Namouna’. When staged by English National Ballet in March 2011, 'Suite en Blanc' was described by Sarah Frater of the London Evening Standard as “a long lost treasure”. "One could sense the audience's collective disbelief," she wrote, "that such a clever, intriguing and intricately patterned work should be so under-performed".
Ukranian-born Serge Lifar initially studied ballet under Bronislava Nijinska, before joining Sergei Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes in France. He studied further under Enrico Cecchetti, and - as premier danseur of Ballets Russes - created the title roles in some of Balanchine’s earlier ballets, including ‘The Prodigal Son’ - Diaghilev’s last production for the Company.
Jerome Robbins’ ‘In the Night’ is a set of three pas de deux which he choreographed to the music of four nocturnes by Chopin. Each duet portrays a different stage in the relationships of three couples. The first two are young and blissfully in love, the second more mature and sophisticated, and the third are described as passionate and tempestuous. The final movement brings them all together, before they go their separate ways again. Created for New York City Ballet, the work premiered in January 1970, and was ecstatically received by both audiences and critics, the latter perceiving it almost as a sequel to Robbins’ beautifully lyrical ‘Dances at a Gathering’.
When PBS, as part of its American Masters series, devoted a program to the work of Jerome Robbins - 'Something to Dance About' - he was described as "one of the greatest ballet choreographers this country has ever produced", and "a master of the Broadway musical". Robbins created more than 60 ballets - works which include 'Fancy Free', ‘Afternoon of a Faun’, ‘The Concert’, ‘In G Major’, ‘Other Dances’, ‘Glass Pieces’, ‘A Suite of Dances’ (for Mikhail Baryshnikov), ‘West Side Story Suite’ and ‘Brandenburg’, many of which are in the repertoire of New York City Ballet, as well as other major dance companies around the world. For his direction and choreography in musical theater, film and television, Jerome Robbins was the recipient of a number of awards, amongst them two Academy Awards for ‘West Side Story'.
The final work on the program is the world premiere of Wayne McGregor’s ‘Borderlands’ - his first commission for San Francisco Ballet. A British choreographer known for his progressive style and physically demanding works, Mc Gregor is Resident Choreographer at The Royal Ballet, and Choreographer and Artistic Director of Wayne McGregor Random Dance, Resident Company at Sadler's Wells Theatre. Awarded a CBE (Commander of the Order of the British Empire) in January 2011, Wayne McGregor also created a work for Big Dance Trafalgar Square, in celebration of the London 2012 Olympics. He has two other works in the San Francisco Ballet repertoire - ‘Eden/Eden’ and ‘Chroma’.
San Francisco Ballet’s Program 1 runs from January 29 to February 3, 2013. For details on casting, performances and ticketing, visit the SF Ballet website, where you can also see video clips of ‘In the Night’ and ‘Suite en Blanc’.
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