My end-of-summer romance with the San Francisco Ballet is over. But boy, what an end of summer fling it was: emotional, passionate, exciting and leaving me oh-so-definitely wanting more. Like when the Olympic and Paralympic flames were extinguished at the end of the games, there was an urge to yell ‘oh no, don’t take it away, pleeeeeeeease’. You know, I’m fairly certain that San Fran wouldn’t notice if Londres kept their ballet company a leetle longer… In the last week I’ve seen ten incredible pieces danced by a subliminally brilliant company – and fallen totally in love with Tiit Helimets’ hair, but that is shallow and by the by. Programme C was SFB’s parting shot to me.
The programme opened with Mark Morris’ Beaux a piece for nine men. If the costumes (and indeed the backdrop) were a little garish and painful on the eyes at times, then the choreography certainly wasn’t. It’s an easy on the eye piece (once you adjust your sight to the costumes) of swaggering bravado touched with tender moments amongst the machismo-ness of it all. I liked it for the same reasons that I liked Wayne Eagling’s Men Y Men for English National Ballet: it takes the guys out of the traditional cavalier type role and throws them into the spotlight in a ‘look what we can do’ way.
After a brief pause it was on to perhaps the pizza de résistance: Possokhov’s Classical Symphony set to Prokofiev. This, chums, was a work of inspired genius. It was Balanchine with balls, Ashton with angles and other similar alliterative comparisons. It was, in essence, one of those pieces that makes you oh-so-terribly glad to be alive and wanting to run down the street leaping and extolling the virtues of the joy of ballet. Truly, I believe that this ballet is my happy place.
To allow my ovaries to recover a little and my squee levels to return back down to somewhere approaching normalish, there was fortunately an interval before RAkU. This was the only narrative piece in all three programmes and really it was only a loose narrative based on the burning of Kyoto’s Golden Pavilion. It’s an incredibly interesting piece of jealousy and love and betrayal and death. But mostly can we take a moment here to stop and discuss Yuan Yuan Tan’s feet? Seriously, they are incredible. I mean she’s an incredible dancer altogether but her feet… I could, but I won’t, sit her all day going ‘OMG, HER FEET’. RAkU is a piece that punches you right between the eyes, makes you sit up and watch barely daring to blink in case you miss something.
The programme was rounded off with Christopher Wheeldon’s Within the golden hour. If Classical Symphony is my happy place, then the Wheeldon piece is probably my heaven. It’s just… oh, it’s perfect. It just blends and moulds itself to the music. I’ve said it before, but there’s a simplicity in the complexity of Wheeldon’s choreography that is just visually stunning. I could’ve watched that all night and been quite content.
One week, ten ballets, three programmes and one company I am very reluctant to let go back State side. I really hope it isn’t another eight years before the SFB make their way back to Londres…
[images via the google machine, click to link back to original source]