Tag Archives: Daniel Deivison-Oliveira

Three and Two for SFB

2 Mar

These San Francisco Ballet programs are listed in reverse because that’s the way I saw them.

The February 20 Program Three started with a Russian-born classic, ending with a Russian-themed myth choreographed by a Russian very much at home in San Francisco. The middle belonged to Christopher Wheeldon’s Ghosts.

I saw Nureyev’s version ofLa Bayadere’s Kingdom of the Shades for The Royal Ballet on the same stage, mounted early in his association with the British company. It informed me that this Indian-themed work preceded Swan Lake by nearly two decades. The more recent, storied visit of the Paris Opera to San Francisco and its full-length production, again a Nureyev production, provided another bench mark.

The Kingdom of the Shades from La Bayadere was first mounted for San Francisco Ballet by Natalia Makarova in 2000; this is second time she has staged it, here assisted by Susan Jones. The revival enjoyed three fine soloists: Mathilde Froustey; Frances Chung and Simone Messmer plus Davit Karapetyan as Solor. Karapetyan’s entrance jete, high, clean, energizing, the first of many to follow, his Russian training and deportment clear, was captivating. While Yuan Yuan Tan presented a willowy Nikiya, an elegant shade, her connection to Solor was limited to partnering, lacking hints to their former emotional connection. I did not expect her to be Giselle, but I did want some connection, particularly in the lengthy use of the filmy scarf, symbol of ghostly connection and purity.

Next to Karapetyan, the three soloists were gratifying with Froustey’s lightness, Chung’s careful correctness followed by her usual swift allegro, and Messmer’s soundless landings. Myy memory of Makarova’s first staging for San Francisco was crisp; this seemed closer to Giselle.

Christopher Wheeldon’s Ghosts, sandwiched between La Bayadere and em>Firebird, is distinguished by a hanging sculpture by Laura Jellenek which gradually lowers after each section of the work, music by K.C. Winger. Vitor Luiz, Maria Kochetkova, Sofiane Sylve, Tiit Helimets, Shane Wuerthner made it all seem conjured from the past as the Jellenek strips of grey in a formation like a tangled skein of wool, gradually fell lower and in sections.

Yuri Possokhov took the Firebird myth to the village, giving a proletarian view of a story involving a Prince, captive Princesses, a demon passage before a court finale. He turned to Yuri Zhukov for set design, a series of cut outs and a red-orange cage for the hero’s captivity by the evil Kostei, whose soul resides in a mammoth egg. With Pascal Molat as oily slime, a monster caressing his egg, elevated by his minions, the tale starts off impressively.

Tiit Helimets makes good as the hero, capturing the feel of a golden boy, country-style. His encounter with Sarah Van Patten’s Firebird featured her always eloquent eyes, but Sandra Woodall’s costume is long on a flash of red cloth designed primarily for its effect in grand jetes, awkward in the pas de deux. The encounter lacks gift of the feather, the necessary toekn our hero must produce to summon her return.

Sasha de Sola as the princess is well matched physically with Tiit Helimets. Her garment with its torso slash of red above white skirt is a surprising delineation along with her coronet; neither peasant nor princess,plus she’s a bit nasty to her handmaidens – a pastural imperialist.

Van Patten’s bird is a tad provocative with her circular hip movements; Tan made them neutral. Van Patten’s eyes rendered the bird vivid, eloquent,if the scarlet fabric tail could be effectively shorn.

The final folk groups projected robustness, a feeling Possokhov obviously wanted. The expansive diagonal stage crossings needed to be repeated too often to fill the music. You registered satisfaction early on. Though not following the traditional tale staged by Fokine and Stravinsky, Zhukov’s designs were a delight, and Possokhov’s desire to create a folk version was basically appealing.

Friday, February 21 I caught up with Program Two: Val Caniparoli’s Tears, to Steve Reich’s music and Sandra Woodall’s elegant costumes. Ratmansky’s From Foreign Lands received its second season showing with some debuts of corps dancers – a happy solution and opportunity with more traditional vocabulary than Wayne MacGregor’s Borderlands.

In Borderlands, Wayne MacGregor can be counted on to set his dances in a structure, with lights that bring dancers to our attention or fade them from sight, and props which can obscure or reveal them in dramatic ways. He also can be counted upon to challenge dancers’ flexibility, speed and endurance. You stare at their abilities, hoping they won’t harm their rotator cuffs, or dislocate a hip joint; for despite their training, MacGregor’s movements are demanding and quite outside much of the classical training canon. Oh, yes, you can see an arabesque and an attitude, some amazing lifts, but what is he saying with the talented bodies at his disposal? I would not be surprised if MacGregor cites William Forsythe as an influence. Forsythe, however, has his own visceral familiarity to the classical canon; while he can make dancers look absurd at moments, he does not contort them as if they were spastic or in a drug-induced spasm.

Clearly I did not like it, though the dancers were marvelous, every last one: Maria Kochetkova, Jaime Garcia Castilla; Sarah Van Patten; Pascal Molat; Frances Chung; James Sofranko ; Sofiane Sylve; Daniel Devision-Oliveira; Koto Ishihara; Henry Sidford; Elizabeth Powell ; Francisco Mungamba.

Having spit out my distaste, Val Caniparoli’s Tears featured the three couples in
roles they created on February 18: Lorena Feijoo and Vitor Luiz; Sasha De Sola and Tiit Helimets; Ellen Rose Hummel and Daniel Deivison-Olivera. With the image of water in his mind, the women’s costumes displayed handsome pleats revealing a range of blues and greens; one thinks changing hues, still pools shrouded by hanging branches of venerable trees. The port de bras were liquid, partnering skillful, but the music too lengthy.

What delighted me about Ratmansky’s second season was the insertion of corps members guided by principals; the eagerness, two slight flubs in the beginning, the good-natured cooperation to bring off this important assignment in young dancers’ careers.Participating in this debut were principals Jaime Garcia Castille, Gennadi Nedvigin, Mathilde froustey, soloists Simone Messmer, Hansuke Yamamoto Shane Wuerthner and corps members Shannon Rugani and Luke Willis with the debutantes Isabella De Vivo, Julia Rowe, Elizabeth Powell, Steven Morse. This frothy rendition of European nationalities – Russia, Italian, German, Spanish, and Polish were subtly slight, visually reassuring with Borderlands to follow.

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Eastern Odyssey, a film by Quinn Wharton

20 Apr

This mostly interesting film received its visual premiere Monday night, April 16, at the Vogue Theatre, Sacramento Street near Presidio in San Francisco;  it covers the two performance appearance June 2011 in Tiit Helimets’ native Estonia with a company he assembled from San Francisco Ballet, Ballet San Jose and Milwaukee Ballet. The presentation was facilitated by Deborah du Bouwy, the force behind the dance documentary series, Words on Dance.

Obviously a work of dedication and affection, it suffers from some technical difficulties and the filmmaker’s “inside” view; he’s a member of San Francisco Ballet. It does emphasize Helimets narrating how his dream received its chance to be realized and commenting on his necessary shift in focus from  self- centered artist to leader responsible for the direction and execution of the ensemble’s brief tour.

One of the most obvious problems was the use of white print for explanatory passages; fine when the background was sufficiently dark, but maddening when light or pastel shades tended to wash out the text.  Another was the uneven nature of the musical score when the sound frequently overwhelmed the visuals, instead of underscoring the action.  This is something  a better sound mix can adjust.

Almost before we see Tiit Helimets interviewed about the genesis of the project we are confronted with backstage images which ultimately seem to have nothing to do with the tour. Wharton later mentioned he had been influenced by some catchy commercials.  We listen to Helimets’ describing the genesis of the film and are introduced to the dancers and the four supporting players. Besides Helimets, the San Francisco dancers were Frances Chung, Nicole Cioppini,  Daniel Deivison-Oliveira,  Sasha de Sola, James Sofranko, Sarah Van Patten; Ballet San Jose dancers Jeremy Kovitch and Alexsandra Meijer; from Milwaukee Ballet  Julianne Kepley and Joshua Reynolds.  Val Caniparoli was the choreographer; his ballet Ibsen Suite was part of the repertoire.  Katita Waldo was ballet mistress, Dan McGary company manager, Jane Green stage manager, Michael Leslie physical therapist.  The entire roster was clearly and nicely identified.

From what I glimpsed Balanchine’s Apollo, Tarantella, and Le Corsaire were on the repertory roster in addition to Ibsen Suite; what else was rehearsed or performed was not easily determined, nor did we enjoy strains of the appropriate music. The program sequence, presumably the same in both cities where the ensemble performed, was not clarified, footage shifting forward and back in kaleidoscopic fashion.

It might have been a salient addition to include more of Helimets as Apollo with his three Muses;  if the role switches actually occurred this needed  to be clear.

Pre-performance rituals, makeup, toe shoe lineup, hair arrangement , warm up, along with muscular mishaps helped to create the atmosphere of tension caused by the unexpected. Helimets’ cool under fire was nicely depicted, as well as his incredibly straight back and pointed feet.

The initial rehearsal venue, one of the major studios of Ballet San Jose, could have been identified.   The Amsterdam airport was prominent as the transfer point for the plane to Tallin, Estonia, part of the most engaging footage in the documentary.  Wharton lingered on this transition, catching qualities of the dancers admirably. Understandably, clinking of beer glasses played their role, and one or two clowning sequences of the ensemble on narrow cobblestone streets.

In the Q & A following the showing, presided over by Garen Scribner, Katita Waldo gave observations which could have been touched upon in the film. (She’s a woman for all seasons.) One was the quality of Tallin’s historic center as one of Europe’s  best preserved medieval cities.  The other involved the differing operation of a small ensemble from a large company relating to costume maintenance.

Tiit Helimets provided valuable information when he disclosed using San Francisco Ballet tour organization format as a model: information, tour guide, ticketing, etc. Inclusion of this information would be salient; in one or two instances we got  a glimpse but no explanation.

Wharton mentioned his problem with the cost of music rights with popular songs used in the documentary’s current form.  The music supplied by his friend seemed far more adequate than the distracting tunes several decibels too loud.

Whether or not Wharton decides to revise the current documentary, carved out of seventy hours of videotape, Eastern Odyssey is an admirable first effort. A lot  depends on where he wishes to take his footage. Seeking an outsider’s view and plotting out his editing with the aid or a story board, will advance   Wharton’s  admirable dance doumcentary debut considerably.