Tuesday, March 21, 2023

The Color of Dance at SF Ballet

The San Francisco Ballet offered an entertaining, exuberant program called The Color of Dance last week. Thursday evening began with a Helgi Tomasson neoclassical ballet, 7 for 8, set to movements from various J.S. Bach keyboard concertos.
Yuan Yuan Tan (above) premiered the piece in 2004 and incredibly she is still dancing the same demanding material at age 47. She was a bit inexpressive for my tastes in her youth but as a veteran she's magnificent. Partnering her above is Aaron Robison with Norika Matsuyama and Cavan Conley behind them.
The orchestra played the Bach really well, with keyboard soloist Mungunchimeg Buriad (above). In one movement, she switched her piano for a harpsichord to accompany a fun solo by Esteban Hernández (above). I wish she had stayed with a harpsichord for the whole performance because Bach just sounds better on that instrument.
Monochromatic outfits were ditched for the middle work, Myles Thatcher's Colorforms, which sported bright, colorful sets and costumes. Created for a film in 2021 during the pandemic, these performances were the premiere of its stage reimagining.
The scenario seemed to have something to do with looking at art in a museum (the film was set at SFMOMA) and paper airplanes and ecstatic groups of dancers, including the same-sex couple of Mingxuan Wang and Wei Wang above.
The music was the pulsing, insistent minimalism of Steve Reich'a 2005 Variations for Vibes, Pianos, and Strings, and the entire instrumental ensemble led by conductor Martin West rightfully came onstage at the end for a bow.
The final ballet was William Forsythe's 2016 Blake Works, set to seven songs by British musician James Blake from his album The Colour in Anything. I liked the moody White Soul dubstep electronic music but thought it a terrible waste when there was a perfectly good orchestra at the choreographer's disposal.
The choreography was angular, jazzy, and inventive, offering brilliant showcases for some of the finest dancers in the company, including favorites Joseph Walsh and Isaac Hernandez. It was a fun evening.

No comments: