Friday, January 23, 2009

The San Francisco Ballet Gala and Isaac Hernandez

On an impulse, I threw on a tuxedo Wednesday evening and bought a $25 standing room ticket for the Opening Night Gala of the San Francisco Ballet's 76th season.

Standing behind the orchestra rail can be fun and comfortable for the ballet since the programs are fairly short, though the practice of making the standees wait in yet another line in the lobby for a half hour before claiming a spot makes one feel rather like cattle.

It didn't matter, though, as we were surrounded by excited young people, most of them ballet students...

...and free bubbly was being offered to the crowd as part of the pre-performance "Champagne Promenade."

The box bar had been sheathed in white fabric, though most of the rich people were across the street in City Hall having their pre-performance dinner interrupted by immigration protesters, which is a scene I wish had been captured on film.

The program consisted of ten short pieces, some self-contained and others bleeding chunks from larger works.

Musically, the evening ranged from the pleasant silliness of Louis Gottschalk and John Philip Sousa to forbidding modernists such as Gyorgi Ligeti and Thom Willems. My only complaint is that the Philip Glass music for the "Double Evil" excerpt was recorded rather than live which is missing out on at least half the fun of the piece.

The choreographers were similarly eclectic, from George Balanchine to William Forsythe, and the dancing was mostly wonderful, and in a few cases downright phenomenal.

Tina LeBlanc, who is retiring this year after a long career with the company, was partnered in a Balanchine choroeographed "Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux" by a new 18-year-old member of the Corps de Ballet named Isaac Hernandez (above).

The Guadalajara born "prodigy" was in a class of his own on Wednesday, making the most fiendishly difficult dance moves look smooth, effortless and musical. This young man is going to be a superstar, and you read it here first. He also has an amusing website which you can get to by clicking here.


Your driver said...

Thanks for the image a tuxedo, impulsively thrown on. That's an impulse I've never experienced.

Civic Center said...

Dear Jon: With the aid of a friend who was a dresser at the San Francisco Opera about ten years ago, I bought a wool 1940s tuxedo at a vintage clothing store in the Haight-Ashbury for $200, had it altered by a tailor, and have been wearing it at appropriate occasions ever since. It was one of the best investments imaginable, particularly for somebody like myself who dresses like a beach bum most of the time.

Nancy Ewart said...

I WANT a photo of you in a tux ! Plus that photo of the young dancer - magnificent! Watching talent (of any age) is always exciting.

Your driver said...

MIke, your tux sounds very cool. I should add, I enjoyed the photos and your comments.

Matthew Hubbard said...

Thanks for the link to Isaac's website. I watched one of the performances and he's remarkable. It will be interesting to see if the increased interest in Mexican artists in many fields including film will help him make the leap from celebrated in the world of dance to a cultural superstar at the level of Barishnikov. Not a whole lot of dancers pull that off, but he's certainly talented enough and pretty enough to have a shot at it.

Maricarmen said...

I like your photo in tuxedo.

About Isaac, let me tell you this is not the first place we read about he is going to be a superstar. There are many articles about him and his great talent. For those who don't know, Isaac was awarded with a Medal for Excelence in Technique, granted by Kirov Society and which has only been granted to 3 dancers, one of them was Rudolf Nureyev. I am mexican and for sure Isaac is a mexican proud. He is already a star for us.

If you want to watch in my dance blog I have a post about Isaac, with 3 videos of him dancing. Just look on the right for tag "Isaac Hernandez"

Well, have a great 2009!

Civic Center said...

Dear Maika: That's not me in the tuxedo but thanks anyway. And I know I'm not the first person to say Isaac was probably headed for some kind of stardom, but I'd never even heard of the kid and out of the blue in context of a starry big city gala, he really stood out.

Mexico has lots to be proud of, by the way, including the world's number one female golfer Lorena Ochoa and extraordinary artists of every sort. I'm totally looking forward to watching Isaac dance over the next couple of years in San Francisco. I'll try to keep you updated.

jolene said...

Mike, you looked fab in your tux! It was a great night of phenomenal dance, as you say, and I liked what you said as 'bleeding chunks from larger works'. The excerpt-filled gala was a new format for me, which has its pros and cons. I'm blogging about it now but finding it difficult to find the words at this moment. But it's been too long and I should blog about this before program 1 begins.

Will I see you at the opera house on Tuesday??

Civic Center said...

Dear Jolene: What do you mean you're finding it difficult to find the words at this moment? Get to work, girl. You looked pretty glamorous at the gala yourself, and no, I won't be there on Tuesday.

Keyle Rece said...

really phenomenal San Francisco Ballet Gala and Isaac Hernandez. so much determine to know this kind of brilliant info.

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