Critical Dance

The following is an article from our special section, San Francisco Ballet in London.

San Francisco Ballet
Julia Adam's "Night," Helgi Tomasson's "Prism" and "Chaconne for Piano and Two Dancers," and Mark Morris' "Sandpaper Ballet"

Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, London
August 18, 2001

By Petra Tschiene

Saturday’s matinee performance of San Francisco Ballet’s third programme started with Prism, a neo-classical work by Helgi Tomasson choreographed to music by Beethoven. The clear and elegant choreography relies heavily on couples and trios for the creation of its fluent patterns. The central Pas de Deux was danced by Muriel Maffre and Cyril Pierre. Maffre's radiant but cool elegance proved to be just perfect for showing off the ballet’s classiness. Julia Adam, Zachary Hench and Vadim Solomkha convinced in the Pas de Trois in the first movement and Guennadi Nedviguine was truly amazing as the lead in the third movement.

Next we were treated to a very different kind of work. Julia Adam’s Night, set to a commisioned score by Matthew Pierce, takes us through a series of the lead character’s dreams. The role was danced by Vanessa Zahorian who had the audience follow her through her dreams and nightmares without daring to breath. The choreography is full of unusual angular movements and Adam made use of a great deal of floor work normally associated with contemporary dance. I found the piece spellbinding and if I had to choose a couple of favourites of SFB’s London season, Night would definitely be one of them.

Helgi Tomasson’s Chaconne for Piano and two Dancers that followed is a charming Pas de Deux full of precise footwork. On this occasion we saw it danced by Lorena Feijoo and Roman Rykine. I could not help but feel that this piece, similarly with Tomasson's other work Quartette, would work much better in a Gala type setting fitted in between more contrasting works. It was lost in this mixed bill without leaving an impression with the audience.

The afternoon closed with Sandpaper Ballet, a piece created by Mark Morris to popular tunes by composer Leroy Anderson, among them The Typwriter. The choreography is funny, witty and charming, using unusual entrances and jazzy movements – and since it is an ensemble work – showing off the company to great effect. The dancers are all dressed in pea green outfits with matching gloves, with only the top parts white. The colour combination cleverly takes into account the differences in height so when the dancers stand next to each other you see one level line between between the green and the white.

The audience was brought to laughter more than once by Morris’s sense of humour and I am sure I was not the only one who was sad that the performance ended after 30 minutes. Time really went by in a blink.


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Edited by Azlan Ezaddin.

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