Amy Seiwart’s Imagery at Fort Mason’s Cowell Theater

31 Jul

July 21-22 Amy Seiwart mounted the 7th Sketch season for her ensemble Imagery with a new departure: a full-length work and to the music of Franz Schubert, 1827 The Wanderer song cycle set to the poetry of Welhelm Muller. Utilizing eight dancers from local and distant companies, Seiwart selected a recording of the music by the expressive voice of Dietrich Fisher Dieskau with pianist Gerald Moore. The recording, placed on a stand downstage right, was lifted and set down on the turn table by two dancers placing the necessary needle at the beginning of the two acts in the seventy minute performance. Seiwart’s troupe was scheduled to appear with The Wanderer at New York City’s Joyce Theater the end of July.

A departure balletically and notable in the cast were the three bearded men, giving the work a gravitas not always present in works with clean-shaven males. Another physical impression was, with one exception, the relative uniformity of the dancer’s build and size,.

With her S-Curve label, costume designer Susan Roemer clothed the ballet. She usually builds her costumes around leotards, adding touches which reflect an element in the given work. Here it was strips of black around the waists and also varying strips from the waist to the breast area for the dancers. Also there was a deep plum-dusty red coat, a multi-buttoned Romantic era garment, providing a comment in each song segment, passing from dancer to dancer, not without protest in some instances.

With classicism and sudden approaches to supporting a body or registering some anxiety, Seiwart managed to convey the uncertainty expressed musically as the early 19th century’s material progress conveyed its dawning emotional and intellectual complexity.

Amy Seiwart has been named the next artistic director of Sacramento Ballet, a post she will assume in the 2018-2019 season. Returning to the company which lured her West, one wonders whether Imagery’s Sketch season will survive to its 9th season, and, of course, will she continue to contribute to Smuin Ballet.

A post-script is in order regarding The Cowell Theater. For the better part of a year Cowell’s audience has had to brave the sea breezes/blasts along the west side of the pier where the Cowell was erected. This misfortune was occasioned by the remodeling of Pier Two to accommodate the graduate program of the San Francisco Art Institute; it frankly was a distinct hazard to the body temperature.

The Fort Mason management has now provided an entry on the east side of the pier. Shortly after the close of the San Francisco International Arts Festival, the new entry began receiving audiences in a spacious entry opening to the theater right near the lavatories. In the Foyer large sepia photographs of prior pier experiences are on display -a nice touch and reminder of days of yore. If the Fort Mason management will remember to hang the multi-disciplinary framed flyers we used to walk past, the cavernous new opening will be complete.

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