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SF Ballet’s Program 7 – The Fifth Season, Suite en Blanc, and Hummingbird

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Program 7, San Francisco Ballet

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PROGRAM 7 – now at San Francisco Ballet through Saturday May 10, is simply the best show in town. Its three separate ballets include encores of Artistic Director Helgi Tomasson’s The Fifth Season, Serge Lifar’s Suite en Blanc, and the world premiere of Liam Scarlett’s Hummingbird. Program 7 is a ravishing combination of music by composers Karl Jenkins, Édouard Lalo, and Philip Glass. Altogether, it is an experience packed with beauty, virtuosity, fun, and artistic greatness.

The Opening Night performance was the best rendition yet seen of Tomasson’s The Fifth Season. Set to composer Karl Jenkins’ String Quartet No. 2, the entire scope of the ballet has come into its fullness. The first movement was charged by the super-energized combo of Davit Karapetyan and Frances Chung. The duo is beautifully matched in physical dynamism and dramatic intensity. In the fourth movement, Tango, the always mesmerizing Sarah Van Patten held complete sway over her three eager partners – Karapetyan, Carlos Quenedit, and Damian Smith. But it was during the Largo that followed where the idea of a “Fifth Season” took hold. For many seasons and through a wide variety of works at San Francisco Ballet, the partnering of Yuan Yuan Tan and Damian Smith has consistently revealed levels of artistic compatibility, spiritual resonance, and dramatic intuition that has exalted the dreams of their choreographers and transcended every line of story and music. We'll have these moments to remember as Damian departs from SF Ballet this month.

Suite en Blanc is an enchanting group of dances taken from Édouard Lalo’s original ballet of 1882, Namouna. Re-imagined by choreographer Serge Lifar in 1943 and staged by Maina Gielgud for SF Ballet, Suite en Blanc is lovely to look at and delightful to know. Lifar’s choreography invites the dancers to pull out the stops for everything showy and elegant in classical ballet. Particular standouts were the pas de trois featuring Sasha De Sola, Vitor Luiz and Jaime Garcia Castilla, as well as the precious serenade of Koto Ishihara and the enticing charms of Mathilde Froustey in cigarette. Strength, subtlety, and steamy dealings shaped the pas de deux of Tiit Helimets and Sarah Van Patten and the effervescent flute of Sofiane Sylve.

Liam Scarlett’s Hummingbird is set to the Tirol Concerto for Piano and Orchestra by Philip Glass. A minimalist score with three movements, a passionate role for the piano – played by Brenda Valhur – the music pulses with steady chords and repeating measures, countered by fleeting melodic lines. Like the tiny bird that can hover and dance in mid-air, dart and defend, fascinate and flee – Scarlett’s choreography maneuvers through a wide territory of ideas and schemes, suggestions and clues, lingering above a series of situations but not waiting for a determined resolve. The pulse just continues. And moves on. Hummingbird is an iridescent, shimmering new volume in San Francisco Ballet’s collection of Classics à la mode.

Performances continue Sunday, May 4, 2pm ⎪ Thursday, May 8, 8pm ⎪ Saturday, May 10, 2pm ⎪ Saturday, May 10, 8pm
Click here to order tickets on-line.

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