The 2013 Season of San Francisco Ballet begins with a glamorous trio of dances from choreographers Serge Lifar, Jerome Robbins, and Wayne McGregor. Program I includes the company's premiere of Lifar's Suite en Blanc—a purely classical work that is visually breathtaking, packed with virtuosic opportunity, and spiked with a jigger of frolic. Jerome Robbins' 1970 In the Night, which had its Company premiere in 1985 and was last seen in 2008, has secured its place as a worthy crowd-pleaser. Completing the set is the world premiere of Wayne McGregor's Borderlands. Commissioned by Artistic Director Helgi Tomasson, the work pushes San Francisco Ballet to the head of the class.
Suite en Blanc is the perfect vehicle for the stellar cast of San Francisco Ballet. The production's brilliant white costuming and startling lighting effects are reminiscent of Classic Hollywood and show off its leading players to perfection. Lifar's creation is a gift to lovers of high Classical ballet and with its score by Édouardo Lalo represents a vital and satisfying option between the major story ballets and the contemporary abstracts.
Jerome Robbins uses the very familiar piano Nocturnes of Frédéric Chopin for his In the Night. Keeping step to the music, pianist Roy Bogas is heaven-sent to SF Ballet. Under a starry sky provided by lighting designer Jennifer Tipton, the choreography teams three couples to show the changing atmospheres of love. If Robbins' choreography contains a look into the tumultuous affair between Chopin and his lady-love George Sand, then the third couple represents that story. As rendered in the opening night performance with the pairing of Lorena Feijóo and Pierre-François Vilanoba, Robbins' choreography takes a sharp look at the crescendos of that unusual relationship and provides clear insight into the fire behind the music.
Choreographer Wayne McGregor and the composing team of Joel Cadbury and Paul Stoney moves modern Ballet up-up-and-away, outside the box, and over the rainbow. Borderlands melds a multi-layered soundscape with the nuances of a pixilated world of color and shape. The dancers embody, separate and clarify the tightly interwoven lines within this flowing wave of sonic structures infused with hints of melody and occasional strains of human tonality. Borderlands is an evolutionary marvel, an artistic quantum leap. Perhaps not the sweet mystery of Life unraveled, but certainly the complexity of Survival revealed.
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