Tag Archives: Alejandro Cerrudo

Intelligent, Colloquial and Smart: SF Dance Works Premiere

26 Jun

SF Dance Works, which gave its premiere performance June 23 at the ODC Performance Gallery,the co-presenter by the bye, elicited a wave of nostalgia for me, thanks to the audience and their enthusiastic support for the dancers and the material they spun before the eyes of these clearly vocal fans.

Well they might. James Sofranko, the founder and artistic director of SF Dance Works, is not only a soloist with San Francisco Ballet, and company member since 2000, he also has co-organized a yearly benefit for cancer research. Additionally, he has choreographed at least two works for San Francisco Ballet’s spring student showcases, reflecting the arrangement smarts he absorbed while at Juilliard Music Institute’s Dance Department. He also has incorporated former Julliard classmate Anne Zivolich-Adams in the inaugural cast, a dancer much missed in the ODC Dance Company.

What wafted over me during the program was the remembered feeling of San Francisco Ballet’s summer programs on 18th Avenue and the rooting nature of the audiences who peopled the risers in the upstairs converted studio those summer weekend programs. These dancers and choreography, to be sure, are infinitely more experienced and savvy, but the ambiance isn’t easily repeated or imitated. Thursday night’s performance, however, evoked those earnest and active days.

The five-part program with one intermission started and ended with the six-dancer ensemble which included former SF Ballet soloists Dana Genshaft and Garrett Anderson, the former now working in modern dance at the company’s school and Anderson, after a stint abroad, with Chicago’s Hubbard Street Dance Company. The additional dancers were Amber Neumann, a Joffrey Company dancer, Ben Needham Wood from the Smuin Company, Kendall Teague, originally hired by Dennis Nahat for Ballet San Jose, and Tobin del Cuore, another Juilliard Alum, with Hubbard credits as well as Lar Lubovitch and Azure Barton, Houston Grand Opera and Chicago’s Lyric Opera.

These seven dancers graced the inventions of Lar Lubovitch, Alejandro Cerrudo, Penny Saunders and the local talents of Dana Genshaft and James Sofranko. The works were enhanced by by Heather Basarab’s lighting, abetted by Rayan O’Gara as well as Jason Brown and a variety of music, the most notable being Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto in A Major, and a portion of Franz Liszt.

Penny Saunders’ Joe and Ida, a co-production with Cedar Rapids Ballet supplied a quirky boy meets girl, the sextet seeming a contemporary take on Robbins’ Fancy Free, however minus sailors, shoes and costumed minimally by Saunders and Melissa Leitch. Saunders, another Harid Conservatory graduate like Sofranko, has Hubbard Street and Cedar Lake credits and is now in a three-year residency with Grand Rapids Ballet where Patricia Barker is artistic director.

One can see that this boy-girl encounter can enliven a contemporary program. It’s brim full of body-parts exploration, from the tentative reach of a hand to rotator cuff manipulation, torso undulation and abrupt shifts in weight and position of the legs and feet. I was amazed to see just what Saunders could elicit from a skilled human body. With six composers in a sound mix, Joe and Ida invites comparison to the endless apps on a smart phone.

Dana Genshaft’s Portrait, inspired by the 19th century French novelist George Sand, was the most staged production in that the work possessed floor projections placing dancer Amber Neumann in context – a field of flowers, a scene of Paris in the mid-19th century and then a neutral where Neumann is divested of Karin Mossen’s black horsehair hoop, replaced by the trousers for which Sand was so noted. An intriguing subject, Neumann spent a fair amount of the Max Richter-Franz Liszt score reaching forward and swirling, suggesting protest and groping for an acceptable ambiance.

Bob Crosby’s music gave Sofranko the basis of displaying Anne Zivolich-Adams’ perky side, quick shifts of direction, abrupt elevation, and her dry “Okay, try me.” Next time I hope Sofranko explores her dramatic depth. But it simply was great to see her prodigious talent showcased.

The program’s first half finished with Lar Lubovich’s male pas de deux from Concerto Six Twenty Two to W.A.Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto in A major, a work associated with the AIDS crisis. Danced by Garrett Anderson and Tobin Del Cuore, it is wonderful blend of so-called modern and classical ballet which was expressed without embellishments, but filled with a range of tenderness, sensitivity and respect that a deep bond between two men can possess.


SFDanceworks. Garrett Anderson, Tobin Del Cuore in Concerto Six Twenty-Two by Lar Lubovitch. Photo by Andrew Weeks

Following intermission the sextet completed the program with Alejandro Cerrudo’s Likety Split, premiered in 2006 by the Hubbard Street Dance Project. Another semi-comic encounter of the sexes with the inevitable hesitations and awkwardness, it seemed that Penny Saunders had absorbed the situation and provided a more lively comment.

For the rationale behind Sofranko’s choices, let me recommend Toba Singer’s interview for Culture Vulture. The aim has been well interpreted, the material reasonably varied; the second season will doubtless build on this auspicious, beautifully danced beginning.

A Dancing Season for Cal Performances, 2012-2013

25 Apr

April 24 Cal Performances formally announced its 2012-2013 season which starts September 30 with the National Circus of China September 15-16.  Knowing a smidge about training for the performance arts in the PRC, the ensemble has had its share of dance training.

Cal Performances Free for All is scheduled for Sunday September 30 and will include Lily Cai’s  and Chitresh Das’ Dance Companies, Eth-Noh-Tec and Gamelan Sekar Jaya, as well as UCB’s Dance Department.

October 10-12 The Maryinsky Ballet and Orchestra will present Konstantin Sergeyev’s reconstruction of the Marius Petipa-Pytor Ilyich Tchaikovsky Swan Lake. [Good luck with the stage size!]

With choreography by Lucinda Childs, Robert Wilson and Philip Glass present Einstein on the Beach October 26-28, a West Coast Premiere.

The veteran act of Mummenschanz appears at Zellerbach Hall November 23-24.

December 14-23 The Mark Morris Dance Group will appear in The Hard Nut.

The 2013 dance offerings start January 26-27 with the Joffrey Ballet, featuring The Age of Innocence (2008) with choreography by Edwaard Liang, Christopher Wheeldon’s take on Arvo Part’s After the Rain (2005) amd Kurt Jooss’ iconic anti-war ballet from 1932 The Green Table.

February 1-2 Hubbard Street Dance Chicago was appear with Too Beaucoup (2011) choreographed by Sharon Eyal and Gai Behar; Little Moral Jump (2012) with choreography by Alejandro Cerrudo and a very mixed score and as yet unnamed work by Alonzo King.

February 3 Kodo brings their Taiko ensemble to Zellerbach and their dance-like attack on the traditional Japanese drum.

Soledad Barrio and Noche Flamenca follow on February 8.

Trisha  Brown Dance Company dances a one-night stand March 15.

The dates for Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater will be April 23-26.

May 3-5 Les 7 Doigts de la Main Circus, Canada’s nouveau cirque troupe  brings its production of PSY.

May 10-11 Eifman Ballet of St. Petersburg will bring Boris Eifman’s 2011 production of Rodin for its West Coast premiere.

If you aren’t already breathless, the 2012-2013 season dance component will complete itself with Bejart Ballet Lausanne May 15-16 with two programs: May 15 Bolero (1961) Bejart’s take on the Maurice Ravel music and Figures of Thought (2011) with music by Zakir Hussain and choreography by Alonzo King.   May 16 will be devoted to Bejart’s 1959 production of  Igor Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring and Bejart’s Le marteau sans maitre (1973) to Pierre Boulez music.

I count these  events as fifteen.  Whew!  and Hooray!!!

Oh, if you consider Mark Morris as dance figure though in the guise of music director, he will bring the Ojai Festival north to Zellerbach June 11-13.

Other fascinating artists will appear, principally musicians.  Visit Cal Performances’ Website.