Farewell to Three Principals

25 Apr

Within five days, San Francisco Ballet bade farewell to three noted principal dancers; alphabetically, Lorena Feijoo, Davit Karapetyan and Vanessa Zahorian, though in reverse order of dates.

Claudia Baer’s review in the San Francisco Chronicle for April 15’s performance is recommended,  Swan Lake for Karapetyan and Zahorian.

Vanessa Zahorian came to San Francisco Ballet in 1996, joining the corps de ballet, following a citation at the Arabesque Competition in Perm and a brief sojourn with the Kirov Ballet, following her training at the Kirov Conservatory in Washington, D.C. and the Pennsylvania Youth Ballet. (Zahorian is one of several such PYB alumnas, including Tina and Sherri Le Blanc, Kirstin Long.)  Early on, with Gennadi Nedvigin, Vanessa was awarded an Erik Bruhn prize in Toronto as contributing most to the future of classical ballet.  Her rise through the ranks was steady and consistent, the same qualities which have permeated her twenty-year sojourn with the company.  While I might have quibbled with an interpretation, Vanessa never wavered in her delivery, even when she broke a toe during a Gala two or three years ago.

Vanessa’s Odette possessed beautiful port de bras, slender, almost ethereal. Her technique in the famous variation was brilliant, although she forwent the passe position following her bird-like attitudes en arriere, and the final battery was exciting. Her 32 fouettes possessed a fair sprinkling of doubles; though traveling, Vanessa ended strongly, an Odile excited by the challenge, abetted by her Von Rothbart father, Sean Orza, and ready to take on the next victim.  Without Daddy, I wonder at Odile’s future – interesting notion.

Davit Karapetyan brought impressive training from his native Armenia, then seasons with the Zurich Ballet with him to San Francisco, a beautiful physique, vibrant black hair and a soulful demeanor to all his roles.  At the Jackson Competition where he and Vanessa earned Best Partner citation, one of the discerning teachers at the International School remarked, “I cannot take my eyes off him in class.”

Karapetyan lost an entire season to injury about two years ago and this past season the enemy of dancers managed to sideline him again. You would never know it with the height of his grand jetes and attitude turns, nor the completeness which he displayed as Siegfried. Admittedly, dancing opposite Vanessa, his wife, helped.

Overall, they supplied a rousing performance, provoking an equal audience response as their figures appeared behind the boulder which hides San Francisco Ballet’s Swan Lake.  There followed the bouquet given by Helgi , a bottle for Davit and then the parade of dancers with single red roses as well as the flowers tossed over the orchestra pit.  Warm, affectionate, the company salutes its departing principals in excellent style.

For Lorena Feijoo, there were none of her memorable roles snippets her admirers remember, nor a piece d’occasion to salute her departure. Following the end of Program 7’s performance April 18, down came the white screen in front of the gold curtains and the audience was treated to video honorifics by Helgi Tomasson,  extolling statements by Yuri Possokhov and Val Caniparoli whom Feijoo credits with giving her opportunities to create roles.  Skyla Schreter and Jayna Frantzikonis also contributed tributes to her example in the company.

Lorena then appeared alone on the stage in a mauve-pinky gown with some sort of drapery, smiling, poised.  If she had chosen a hat she would have been a ringer for one of those fin-de-siecle Parisiennes who managed such a swath theatrically and personally or Mrs. Patrick Campbell across the English Channel.

The extolling over, the bouquets began led by Helgi, then followed by choreographers, dancers and two bouquets by Lorena’s daughter and a friend. Lorena delivered a Lambarena movement when Val Caniparoli approached her.  Most of the principal women dancers curtsied as they presented the single red rose.  Much, if not most, of the ritual was captured by Teri McCollum, showing up on Facebook shortly thereafter.  One shot. not seen by the audience, was Lorena lying supinely on the shoulders of some half dozen of the company ‘s male dancers, a great, playful salute to this wonder woman  dance artist.

What a trio – to all three, God Speed.


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