Archive | January, 2019

SFB’s January 29 Don Q

31 Jan

Because I wanted to see Wona Park essay the role of Kitri, I was able to see Don Q on January 29. My seat was situated in a cluster of subscribers who provided a pleasant perspective of acquaintances built up over a number of seasons. Their ambiance added to my expectations.

Among them were Max and Molly Schardt, a Marin couple with Lawrence Halprin association for Max and the Asian Art Museum for Molly. She was an education officer when I was in Asian Art docent training, after her own stint in informing the public.

Molly’s mother, Alice, originally from Hawaii, married into the Kent family of Marin; she and I shared classes in Japanese calligraphy with Hodo Tobase; Alice was far more constant in her study than I. She also was one of the founders of the Society for Asian Art and one of the women who campaigned vigorously for the bond issue enabling the first construction of the Asian Art Museum’s wing of the de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park. An intimate space, now occupied by the de Young’s sculpture garden, the Asian’s presence was the needed impetus to start the evolution of the de Young to what it is today.

I sat next to Judy, a retired special education teacher in the Oakland schools; she had studied Spanish at UC, Berkeley, and apparently had never seen the Minkus-Petipa/Gorsky/Tomasson/Possokhov version. Judy mentioned having read Book 1 of Don Quixote in Spanish – quite an impetus.

We enjoyed a woman conductor, Tara Simoncic, who evoked a finely etched tone from the music – bombast, yes, but skillfully tempered. Plus, the company had four performances under its belt to make cohesion and ease palpable. Apart from the principals, the ensemble feeling was pervasive, their reaction to the audience much like my memory of the Alcazar seasons: just delight in performing.

Wona Park as Kitri and Joseph Walsh as Basilio were nicely matched, consistent,
correct. She is small, brunette and warm; he is confident, not given to pseudo Spanish airs, finely tuned and spirited in timing and calculated effects. His entrance for the would-be suicide was brilliant, Park matching his histrionics. I would gladly see their matter-of-fact brilliance anytime.

What also was special this time around was the characters being assumed by corps members with elan and relish, a clear indication of the company regarding both present and future opportunities. Nathaniel Remez and Davide Occhipenti as the Don and Panza respectively were splendid, characters drawn fully, executed with relish and conviction. Remez is tall, with a Modigliani-shaped face, gestures grandiose, just a tad vain while Occhipenti’s Panza was smallish, furry-scurry like with a terrific quizzical regard. Alexandra Cagnat built on his initial mad impression as Gamache. Deivison-Oliveiri’s Espada was a bit less dour this time and he had Wan-Ting Zhao as a flint-like accurate Mercedes in all her Act I maneuvers; the two sparked off each other’s brilliance. Isabella di Vivo and Julia Rowe continued their spirited competence as Kitri’s friends.

As testimony to the impression this cast made, I keep hearing Minkus in my head.

SF Ballet Starts its Eight Programs: Don Quixote, Number One

27 Jan

January 25 conductor Martin West led San Francisco Ballet’s orchestra in a rousing overture to Don Quixote, the Helgi Tomasson/Yuri Possokhov reworking of the 1900 Gorsky reworking of Marius Petipa’s 1869 Bolshoi premiere. A romp, an excellent cast, Rita Felciano and Carolyn Carvajal considered it a bouquet and confection.

The production design was perhaps the last full length ballet Martin Paklindinaz created before his death in 2012; mostly, his vision is just fine. Three inches on the casting sheet’s back page credit the costume makers, the choice of music, not all Ludwig Minkus, but including Ricardo Drigo and Leon Delibes. It is amazing how well the mix and match succeeds.

Don Quixote also requires full use of the company’s character dancers, providing opportunities for zesty supporting roles and allowing the corps lots of dancing and responses to on stage antics.

Don Quixote is seen in his study as the curtain opens, a murky location with sufficient drapery for Sancho Panza to hide underneath when three women, clearly merchants, hunt for him and his purloined stash. The commotion awakens the Don from his vision of pilgrimage, salvation and glory.

The Don shoos the women away, allowing Panza to emerge with his loot. Panza’s satisfaction is short-lived. Sword brandishing, the Don is ready to venture forth. Panza supplies him with the proper helmet, lance and chest armor. Jim Sohm relishes the chance to convey the grandiose and his height makes it possible; Pascal Molat gives Sancho Panza plenty of quizzical, rummaging opportunities. If he wasn’t such a sneak, Molat’s Panza would be endearing. They are a fine odd couple.

Curtain down and swiftly up, it is a Barcelona courtyard of Sunny Spain, with the Mediterranean as background, Basilio, the barbour [Angelo Greco] finishing his job with a customer. Across the plaza Lorenzo [Val Caniparoli] has set his tables, abetted by Kitri’s mother [Anita Paciotti]. Kitri [Matilde Froustey] enters from the upstage left set of steps clad in a multi-layered skirt of glistening scarlet gathers. Willowy, dark-haired, she looks the part. What follows is an attempt between Kitri and Basilio to persuade Lorenzo to bless them. No dice, there is no coin in the deal. Basilio lifts Lorenzo’s sack of coins, initial pleasure then consternation and retrieval. Flirtation also spices up the lovers’ transaction; there is lively dancing, solo as well as partnering.

Toreadors arrive, six of them, led by Espada [Daniel Deivison-Oliveira] gleaming in lemon yellow with magenta and black braid. His is an ideal portrait of skilled masculine ego, preening, adept with the technical demands of the role, if sometimes glowering a bit much. Capes swirl as Mercedes [Jennifer Stahl] makes her appearance, then maneuvers around the daggers plunged on the ground. Espada and Mercedes frequently convey their mutual fireworks.

Gamache [Alexandra Cagnat] appears on the scene, spots Kitri and makes coin gestures to Lorenzo, who forces Kitri to come close. She manages to remove Gamache’s wig, eliciting an audience guffaw soon followed by the Don’s entrance on a placid white horse with Panza leading a shetland pony, eyes obscured by his mane. The Don spots Kitri and imagines she is his ideal Dulcinea, foiling Gamache. It is so broad and wonderful, perhaps topping Vaudeville’s reputation.
Panza finds himself in a tarpaulin being tossed by the villagers, rolling out to the feet of the Don. In the mayhem, Kitri and Basilio run away.

The second act is the gypsy camp where Hansuke Yamamoto filled the role of the Gtana Leader, with admirable nuance – not simply the menace or dash of his solo, but sustaining interactions: flirtation with a young gypsy, unease with the protesting Gitana Woman [Kimberly Marie Olivier], conferring with Basilio, sending the lovers onward, welcoming Lorenzo, the Don, Panza, and Gamache now seated on the Shetland, inviting them to see the puppet show mocking Lorenzo, setting Don into a fury of destruction before he tilts with windmills. Yamamoto needs more opportunity to display these gifts.

The Don, knocked unconscious by his encounter with the windmill, is lain out by Panza, anxious, solicitous. He runs off for assistance, enabling the Driad Dream with Koto Ishihara presiding over eighteen driads, six cupids from the school, the major Cupid Norika Matsuyama and Kitri in gleaming white cum tiara. The Don partners Kitri briefly, the scene vanishes, he wakes. Panza returns with Gamache and they stagger onward, Gamache becoming porter for the Don’s lance and armor. Cagnat’s Gamache is broadside humor, minted variety.

The lovers now appear in the Taverna, welcomed by Inn Keeper Ricardo Bustamonte. Espada and Mercedes appear; she executes backbends and is hoisted on a table. The hunters appear, Basilio disappears, Kitri attempts to hide but is identified by Gamache. Lorenzo is about to seal a deal, but is interrupted by Basilio who declares he will kill himself if he loses his love. Cape on the floor, he plunges the knife. Kitri goes into paroxysms of grief, appealing to the Don to bless her and the dying groom. Basilio manages to paw Kitri’s bosom and kiss her during this bru-ha-ha. The Don advances with spear on Lorenzo who capitulates, delivering his blessing. Guess who immediately springs to life? Lorenzo is suitably crushed.

The final act is the Wedding in the Town Square, complete with a priest, eight bridemaids, the principal characters and eight pairs of fandango dancers. From this act comes the war horse of all competition numbers, the Don Quixote Pas de Deux, testing the balance of Kitri’s interpreter and the constrained bravura of the dancer dancing Basilio. Greco was uniformly consistent, Carolyn Carvajal remarking that even in repose, Greco’s posture remained consistently Basilio.

Thanks to ballet competitions and the earlier performances of Don Q here in San Francisco, I accumulated criteria for this warhorse of all pas de deux with Lorena Feijoo’s Kitri continuing to linger. Among other skills, Feijoo’s fan remained active during the fouettes, turning in four directions, continuing to accent the traveling pirouettes.

Nonetheless, Mathilde Froustey demonstrated her chops as Kitri, an effervescent, flirtatious young woman, quite determined to have her own choice. I felt her portrayal, quite appealing, very French. Her use of the fan, with a consistently slight en retard in phrasing made interesting watching. She was totally in command until the fouettes where propulsion was excessive, throwing Froustey into an admirable series of traveling fouettes to complete the assigned music. This feat solidified her as trouper par excellence. Next time, she might limit her propulsive thrust to 45 degrees, an angle Tatiana Stepanova informed me was the formula she learned from Olga Preobrajenska.

Miscellany from San Francisco Ballet’s Gala

26 Jan

January 23rd ’s Gala theme for San Francisco Ballet was “This is Passion.” In 2001 it was “Le Grand Tour,.” in 2015 “Infinite Romance,” and in 2018 “Celestial.” I couldn’t locate other years’ Gala themes, but wonder who dreams up the titles each season. It would provide an interesting tid-bit to digest.

The Chronicle was very much on hand for photographs which have duly occupied its website and that of S.F. Gate with a preponderance of strapless gowns on bodies with arms which could profit from weight exercises. Something resembling ostrich feathers wafted up and down the left orchestra aisle and several trains swept their way as well. Perhaps two men sported full Scottish regalia, if minus bonnets and bagpipes; I momentarily wished the pipes would appear, inflate and skirl their special music.

Missing from the Press Room were Allan Ulrich and Teri McCollum, whom I dub Tiara Teri. She has a collection to adorn her carrot-hued locks. Those of you using Facebook can catch her progress. In the meantime she continues to share her spectacular vista of the Pacific. Teri also thanked some San Francisco Ballet dancers for their visits, supplies and assistance in domestic house keeping, testimony to an ongoing special spirit in its members.

In the press room proper, a number of unfamiliar figures congregated over the spread available at the company’s Galas. This year small oval tarts occupied a three-tier serving dish opposite brie, prosciutto, salami and mixed nuts with coffee at the end of the room.

Kate McKinney provided press members with tickets. A native of Colorado, she comes to SFB via a music major at the University of South Carolina, a stint in an East Bay Opera and more recently, the San Francisco Symphony. She has joined You You Xia, director of communications, who also crossed the street from the Symphony, after positions in artists’ management, the Seattle Symphony and degrees from Columbia University and the University of Texas, Austin.

In the orchestra aisle Margaret Swarthout and Julia Adam caught up on individual activities. Adam’s daughter was scheduled to be among the crowd in Don Quixote and one of the cupids in the dream scene. Smiling, Julia exclaimed, “She’s living the dream.” Julia is headed to Toronto for a working reunion with Christopher Stowell, associate artistic director of the National Ballet of Canada. She will be joining Joanna Berman, there assisting in setting Paquita, Act III on NBC while Julia will mount her first San Francisco Ballet commission, Night, on the Toronto-based company.

Margaret exchanged comments about the mid-February regional Youth America Grand Prix semi-finals in San Mateo, with Nikolai Kabanaiev; he teaches men’s classes at City Ballet. I asked Nikolai how his students fared at the XI Jackson Competition in June. He said one was going to the school in Stuttgart; the second, the junior silver medalist, Hyoma Kiyosawa, was chosen by Ashley Wheater for Joffrey scholarship support. The USA IBC website mentions Houston Ballet had offered Kiyosawa a similar position, scholarship for further study and joining the second company. The USAIBC provides a winners list but also lists on-going offers tol the medalists.

For those unfamilar with Margaret Swarthout, she is native to Australia, but moved to London to pursue her ballet training with what was then the school attached to Sadler’s Wells Ballet. She mentioned to me that shortly after she joined the company, Dame Ninette de Valois announced the name change to Royal Ballet. Margaret said she danced with the company for nine years which included three U.S.-Canada tours. “One lasted five months.” On the final tour, Margaret met her husband, Walter Swarthout, and left the company. After time spent with Harkness House, she joined Marin Ballet’s faculty, became its director with the departure of Maria Vegh, and, following a disagreement,started Marin Dance Theatre. For various student performances she has commissioned works by Yuri Possokhov as well Pierre-Francois Villanoba, teaching on MDT’s faculty.

San Francisco Ballet’s 86th Season Gala

25 Jan

Labeled This is Passion, following the national anthem, the 86th San Francisco Ballet Bala got off to a rousing start with Chairman Carl Pascarella’s tribute to the orchestra led by Martin West, drawing approving applause. Included were the predictable thanks to the occasion’s sponsors, the Company’s volunteer organizations and the chairs of the evening, gala, dinner and decor. The salmon-hued brochure included names of honorary chairs, past as well as present and the lengthy list of patrons, benefactors and volunteers, all getting their yearly recognition. Pascarella concluded his comments in giving Dede Wilsey the
Christensen medal, remarking that she was instrumental in saving San Francisco Ballet in 1974. For those interested procure a copy of Anton Ness’ Save Our Ballet which recounts the dancers who started the campaign to which Wilsey subsequently paid the necessary attention with fiscal support and enlisting colleagues to do the same.

Assuming that Passion can be reflected in many forms, the Gala selections did reflect its facets in a number of forms. First off was an excerpt from Harold Lander’s Etudes, the full length version to be seen in the season’s number 3.There were a dozen men in white, a dozen each of ladies in white and in black, plus the principals; Sasha de Sola, expansive, adding sunniness to her regal ease, plus Luke Ingham and Ulrik Birkkjaer crossing the stage horizontally and diagonally to the crisp note of Knudage Riisager’s adaptation of Carl Czerny’s Etudes, made masterfully visible by Harald Lander.

This 60-year old classic marathon, built on those exercises so familiar to piano beginners, is both deceptively simple and unerring revealing of company strength, met with wonderful clarity by the San Francisco dancers. Reflecting, Helgi Tomasson reversed the usual order of a gala, placing this 38 dancer selection first rather than making it the finale, one of his uncanny, effective choices. Mark this perhaps as the passion inherent in classical ballet clarity.

Selection 2, the Pas de Deux from Handel a Celebration, brought some strong memories of Helgi’s 1989 work, then featuring Joanna Berman and Anthony Randazzo. Here Mathilde Froustey and Tiit Helmets created a work of European lyricism and romanticism, a pre-World War I evocation of a stable society. Of course Handel’s music with the lines “Where’er you Walk,” can’t help but promote such an image.

My memory was not only stateliness, measured connection and sureness of connection, but a warmer, earthier liaison, which Julia Adam described during the intermission due to height and dimension. Both interpretations reflected definite acceptance, another aspect of passion.

The Balanchine-Stravinsky Agon Pas de Trois was the Gala’s number three where I hazard passion embraces the abstract use Stravinsky made of the Sarabande, Gailliard and Coda forms of composition with Balanchine’s choreographic commentary using dancers dressed in black tights and white tops. Here the artists were Benjamin Freemantle, Jennifer Stahl and Wanting Zhao, with Freemantle’s dancing a prototypic correctness, self-effacing yet confident, quite the winning combination.

For non-stop razz mitazz, Soirees Musicales before the intermission won the blue medal with guest Misa Kuranaga, guesting from Boston Ballet, and Angelo Greco. We all know what a prodigious technician Greco is, but Kuranaga’s skill was a surprise and revelation in Helgi Tomasson’s 1996 bon mot. He pulled out the stops and permitted two artists to display constancy of movement rivaling Balanchine’s Tarantella to Gottshaulk’s music with that of Benjamin Britten.

A note about Kuranaga. I had the pleasure to see her win the senior women’s gold at Jackson in 2006 where her partner was Rolando Sarabia, a junior gold from Cuba in 1998. Kuranaga is actually no stranger to San Francisco Ballet, having trained here and I believe dancing briefly in the corps de ballet before joining Boston Ballet.

Following Intermission with a wonderful chat with choreographer Julia Adams and Margaret Swarthout of Marin Dance Theatre, the audience was treated to a Latin American rendition of the Balanchine’s Rubies pas de deux, originally danced by Edward Villella and Patricia McBride. Sleek sophistication danced with relish replaced muscular rascality and verve; it seemed at one point Ana Sophia Scheller and Vitor Luiz might break out in a tango.

Selection Six provided the audience with a world premiere by Danielle Rowe, an Australian dancer/choreographer who also serves as associate artistic director of SF Dance Works. Choosing Sofiane Syvle and Aaron Robison for her pas de deux UnSaid to the music of Eno Bosso, Also costuming the pair, giving Sylve a sleek near backless torso of a murky green(?) with a skirt flowing and swirling in this portrait of relationship, troubled,tender, ultimately leaving the woman alone.

Music and moves conspired with the artists’ commitment to rouse the audience’s cheers and clumps of standing ovation. Sylve brought Rowe on stage and enveloped her in a warm embrace and Robison beamed while the audience gave the trio the response they and the work so richly deserved.

From Yuri Possokhov’s 2009 Diving into the Lilacs, the pas de deux was elegaicly interpreted by Yuan Yuan Tan and Carlo di Lanno.

An Excerpt from Hurry Up We’re Dreaming, Justin Peck’s contribution to the 2018 Unbound Series, provided the finale, juxtaposing classicism to its contemporary use for a supporting cast of eight dancers and three couples, all very much in contemporary mix-and-match casual by costumers Reid Bartelme and Harriet Jung.

Elizabeth Powell, Gabriela Gonzalez and Doris Andre were the three partners to Luke Ingham, Ulrich Birkkjaer and Joseph Welch. The lightning was murky, the dancers excellent and energetic, but I have yet to warm to this expression of contemporary passion.

Tomasson’s choices were emblematic of his singular capacity to make a Gala memorable, and a teaser for the season to follow.

Dance in America: Book Review

16 Jan

Aloff, Mindy, editor, Dance in America: A Reader’s Anthology
New York, Library of America, 2018, 651Pages, illus., $40.00

Anthologies, worthy of the name, are daunting endeavors if undertaken with sober responsibility. Mindy Aloff’s accomplishment is spot on for a variety of reasons, not least of which reflect the hours spent in reading and selecting the seventy contributors, living and deceased,and providing such absorbing reading.

A great thing about anthologies is that one feels, conscience free, unlike a serious, progressive treatise, to skip, dip, skim over the contents. Here we can cavort over a good century and a half to inspect the thinking of a few major figures in American letters. Their entries are arranged alphabetically, so the reader, in sequence, can hop from this 21st century, to the mid-nineteenth century to capture the cautious ecstasy of Ralph Waldo Emerson over Fanny Elssler’s appearance in the United States, and, then to include Charles Dickens and Emily Dickinson, an interlude with Isadora Duncan and Katherine Dunham, before retreating to John Durang. George Caitlin is included with his observations of Amer-Indians in Missouri, and George Washington Cable depicts Congo Square in New Orleans in the middle of the nineteenth century. Can’t you just picture some mad-cap cinematographer helping you to leap-frog over time, space and citizenship?

As more fan than aesthete, I was drawn to prose which danced and found
wonderful examples; Jose Limon’s description of Humphrey’s New Dance,
Elizabeth Kendall’s prodigious survey of Rag Time with its canny analysis of
the social impact of the Castles. Joan Acocella’s description of Patty McBride gives the reader who might not have seen her a sense of why McBride recently received a National Medal of Honor; Agnes de Mille can be counted upon to evoke the grace and perfume of La Argentina. Carolyn Brown’s marathon at the Radio City Music Hall is both pungent and enthralling.

Marina Harss’ coverage of Mark Morris and the Ojai Festival as well as Jennifer Homans’ premise regarding Alonso King’s classicism brings to the dance world a certain Western U.S. sensibility to the arena largely is shaped by New York. Additionally, California natives Janet Collins and Allegra Kent recount precious contacts with the legendary Russians Leonide Massine and Barbara Karinska at moments in their substantial careers.

Arlene Croce gives the reader an interesting contrast in ballet attack between Merrill Ashley and Suzanne Farrell, while Lincoln Kirstein recounts the evolution of his understanding of Martha Graham. Stuart Hodes provides a visceral account of the execution of the Graham technique.

Critics Walter Terry, Clive Barnes, Jack Anderson, Alistair MacAuley are included in this wonderfully inclusive record of two centuries plus of dance in these United States. Anyone compiling a reading list for dancers, dance lovers and dance theory classes needs to provide prime place for Mindy Aloff’s accomplishment.

A Thirty-five Year Old Gala Commentary

13 Jan

San Francisco Ballet will shortly celebrate the 2019 season, its 81st if you date the company from Willam Christensen’s legal formation, 86 or 87 if you date it from the opening of the San Francisco Opera and the comparatively brief hegemony of Adolph Bolm.

In my Aegean stable effort to cull papers, I came across comments I wrote for the 1984 Gala. For balletomanes from that era and one-time company members, it might make for a smile or two as it surely did for me. A quick check informed me this was final year of the Christensen-Smuin joint direction of the company, for Lew was to die in October. Here goes:

Galas are not only celebratory affairs, they’re good for fund raising, and San Francisco Ballet seems to have their formula down to a well-greased routine, slightly ajar by the milling nature of the crowds. Last year it was the 50th anniversary, but this year it’s the completion of the 12.3 million dollar edifice totally from private sector money. And the visuals which Michael Smuin arranged to start the program certainly celebrate the Christensen brothers and the line of choreographer who have emerged from the student ranks and who have guested. With the exception of Doris Humphrey some time back, there is not a woman choreographer of major stature in the lot, although the company has fostered the talents to two ballerinas in that department, Jocelyn Vollmar and Betsey Erickson. But for some reason, the major female choreographic talents in the country have never been invited.

However, the cause for celebration, if one searches, can be found in two artistic places. One is the increase in the Latins and Asians dancing in the company, some of them with noticeable definition, and the other is what happens when Michael Smuin sets out to supply a surprise for the audience. This year it was a hidden talent search for ‘break dancers,’ which was conducted in the Bay Area, and, at the end, some forty-odd adolescent bodies, all of them male, wriggled, writhed, jumped, paused and spun on stage to rock music played at the pitch that the Joffrey introduced to the ballet world when Jerry Arpino choreographed Trinity. Add Kirk Petersen, dancing to the Beatles’ rendition of “Come Together,” it was a ‘get on down’ ending to a Gala of dancing which had one or two moments, but in all was rather anti-climatic, after all the cinemagraphic techniques.

Pigs and Fishes introduces Elisa Monte to the roster of San Francisco Ballet guest choreographers, mounting a work originally commissioned by Alvin Ailey in 1981. Its monotonous and repetitive score by Glen Branca and the equally repetitive movements, much of it torso and hip undulations and dipping and sliding gestures for the arm clearly belong to the minimalist school of movement which Laura Dean has perfected and for which she is the prime exponent. The music is a rock imitation of Cackling’ Hen score which Twyla Tharp used, and in 1980 the Joffrey Ballet staged Laura Dean’s Night which provides the format out of which Pigs and Fishes operates. The seven women, led by Tracy-Kai Maier, dance with great earnestness and certainly the ballet is an exercise which is quite new to San Francisco dancers. The only problem is that Tharp and Dean preceded Monte’s creation and their exploration of repetition and minamalism has been rather definitive. Monte does add undulation to the spectrum of monotony, but there is neither frenzy of ancient Bacchantes nor the hypnotism of a deep-level ritual.

Michael Smuin’s Romanze, a collaboration with Francis Ford Coppola, and dedicated to the memory of Walter Terry, has two handsome exponents going for it and the equally charming costumes of Sandra Woodall which are exactly right in their period pitch, and underscored by Dvorak’s Romanze in F minor, Op.110. A picnic between two beautiful young people in the 1908-1910 era of San Francisco allows Catherine Batcheller and Alexander Topciy to walk, look and suggest with great style, later to dance in skin-colored tights in pools of light against the projections. It is all very pleasant, but all too often the screen images overshadow the dancing, magnification here dwarfing, rather than enhancing the dance.

Robert North’s Troy Game, created a decade ago for the London Contemporary Dance Theatre and utilizing Brazilian carnival music, is a romp for eight men which has been seen here previously, performed by Dance Theatre of Harlem. It is an outrageous and quite delightful bit of feint, counter, feint, tricks, acrobatics and timing which the DTH have made utterly their own. By contrast, the SF men seemed thick in the middle and not quite into it. The season may well change that. I hope so.

Symphony in C, has new, white tutus constructed by Sandra Woodall, but Balanchine’s familiar interpretation of Georges Bidet, created in 1947 for the Paris Opera, is one of the best beloved of the Balanchine ballets in the local company’s repertoire. At its premiere at the Alcazar in 1961, Michael Smuin was dancing with Fiona Fuerstner and Sally Bailey was still around. Betsey Erickson still is queen of the second movement, and Evelyn Cisneros shone in the first one. Here partner David Peregrine hails from Canada, and his long-waisted body has a clean distinction to it. Marco Carrabba, opposite Nancy Dickson in the third movement, also provided some energy and force.

The third movement also provided a second glimpse of Magdalene Purungao and one of Andre Reyes. Purangao’s initial impression came in Pigs and Fishes, and her distinctiveness was matched by young Reyes. Reyes, born in San Francisco, and Purangao, a native of the Philippines, will be featured later this spring in Asian Week.

Another young dancer whose jump is well etched in attack and definition is Ricardo Bustamonte, a native of Columbia.

The multi-cultural attractions of the city are obvious, and the fact that San Francisco is one of the four financially stable ballet organizations in the country doesn’t hurt either. The season Will demonstrate what the structural and operational stability will provide in the way of insight, imagination, invention. Artistic vision is an elusive thing, and many of the genuinely great dances produced in modern dance and in ballet over the past forty years did not emerge from the best oiled of administrative and production machines. Spectacle and art are not synonymous, and one can only hope that both artistic and administrative direction in that new Franklin Street edifice keep that clearly, yes, even humbly, in mind.