Tag Archives: Wayne MacGregor

Wayne MacGregor’s Ensemble at YBC January 14

19 Jan

Some audience members in the orchestra gave Company Wayne MacGregor a standing ovation, but not all. The fifty-nine minute non-stop work titled Atmos displayed wonderful dancers with prodigious abilities and flexibility, a scrim with subtly appealing shades of grey through gentle purples and geometric shapes, some side lighting on stage right at the beginning which grabbed my attention.

MacGregor’s visual eye on production aspects is distinctly acute. But when it comes to choreography I am afraid I belong to some of the nay sayers, even though I have come to like Chroma, danced locally by San Francisco Ballet.

The dancers’ facility must mesmerize MacGregor to ask them to accomplish all sorts of leaps, partnered or solo, and to create crouching duos. An amoebic beginning reminded me of containers of composting worms one purchases at hardware or garden shops, and some of the partnering impressed me with variations of that same writhing. The initial movements I found intriguing, but after the third repetition I wanted something more.

Given his bio statement I am fully aware Mr. MacGregor is one of England’s head honchos of Albion’s modern dance. The credits and awards are singularly impressive. I guess I am simply out of step, but I do admire his abilities for production and selection of dancers clearly attracted to working with him.

Ballet San Jose’s Neoclassical to Now: February 15.

15 Mar

If Jose Manuel Carreno wanted to demonstrate that Ballet San Jose’s dancers enjoyed the capacity to dance diverse styles, he could scarcely have chosen three more diverse choreographers than George Balanchine, Jorma Elo and David Naharin; the iconic Serenade, Elo’s Glow-Stop and Naharin’s Minus 16 fulfilled Carreno’s aim and then some. Ballet San Jose’s dancers rose with pride and vigor to their assignments rendered, unfortunately, to recorded music.

Opening with George Balanchine’s Serenade, Ballet San Jose staked their ground as an ensemble fulfilling the potential Balanchine portrayed in this first ballet created in the United States after his arrival from Europe, using Petyr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s Serenade for Strings. With seventeen dancers and five principals, the company reflected the earnest dedicatory qualities which must have infused the original dancers, intense, focused, exalted in this formative undertaking. Thank heaven the San Jose dancers convey a touch of earthliness through all their technical assignments.

In Ommi Pipit-Suksun and Any Marie Briones, Serenade enjoyed striking interpreters and equally brilliant interpretations; they danced one with the music, true to the impulse. Alexsandra Meijer gave one of the sunniest performances she has danced, clearly enjoying her role, even down to losing the man to the unseen fateful figure of Pipit-Suksun. In Nathan Chaney, a new principal, the company enjoys a male dancer with amplitude of bearing and technique.

, which Jorma Elo set to Mozart and Philip Glass, is neither my favorite choreographer nor the work the best he can offer. I sometimes wonder why he doesn’t provide strings from the flies attached to the dancers’ arms and legs, connecting the stop and start, jerky pauses or finishes to various passages. Admittedly it’s fascinating to hear Mozart’s light, bright crystalline music and its construction deconstructed visually; your mind constantly flashes “oops, that’s not going very far.” The dancers, bless their hearts, did well by Elmo, I’m sure challenged and responsive. Choreographers, of course, are highly individualistic human beings, but deconstruction of line places Elo and MacGregor in dead heat, Elo on the puppet end, MacGregor on the contortionist side.

Minus 16
by David Naharin is set to Hebrew songs and a bit of Over The Rainbow. Seventeen dancers sat on chairs in a semi-circle, black coated, black trousered, black hatted – the image of Orthodox Hebrews, minus curls.They gradually progressed on and off the chairs to the swinging Hebraic melodies before gradually beginning to doff clothing, tossing them defiantly into the middle of the stage. It was mesmerizing and fun. In skin colored tights and leotards, they cavorted; blackout. The light rose; the dancers, dressed, sauntered off stage, inserting themselves into the rows to choose an unsuspecting member of the audience. Taking them onto the stage, they danced with them to Latin music; some of the unexpected performers respond with alacrity. A slight woman, blonde and in blue two seats away from me, really dug it. The audience adored it; what a wonderful end to the evening.

San Francisco Ballet’s Program II, February 14 and 19

26 Feb

Moving to two programs of three one-acts from full-length as opener,  San Francisco Ballet’s  programming is gauging story ballets’  value to pull audiences in to the variety programs.  Judging by the two  Program II performances, it seems to be working.

With Wayne MacGregor’s Chroma, the premiere of Mark Morris’ Beaux and Christopher Wheeldon’s Nine in Program II, the company displayed three contemporary choreographers whose patterns and  diagrams provide distinct, differing moods.

On first glance last season and again this season, MacGregor’s Chroma displays parallels with  San Francisco choreographer Alonzo King but with two salient exceptions: MacGregor’s casts look each other in the eye, making connection, and the akimbo body movements are direct, more  forward moving than King’s, where  vibrato leads up to a posture, a lift or a plunging, supported arabesque possesses a distinctly jazz-like riff on a main theme. Also, MacGregor’s women dance in soft slippers, instead of pointe shoes. Moritz Junge’s flesh-like toned costumes were modest, if short, sleeveless slouchy tee-shirts over trunks.

The dancers appear before a neutral lit backdrop, framed, stepping over to dance before stalking off mostly to stage left or going to mid center on the same side or appearing again in the frame. Duos and trios start out singly, later dancing simultaneously when all ten dancers become frantically engaged at the finale.

In the first cast Pascal Molat and Frances Chung led off with the initial athletic pas de deux, but a model of tempered sensuality. Anthony Spaulding’s leading leg thrust up in jetes, a signature touch, while Maria Kochetkova affirmed her acrobatic training. Taras Domitro, Jaime Garcia Castilla and Isaac Hernandez adapted to the off balance style and  Garen Scribner made his movement seem geometric.

In the second cast Vito Masseo and Sofiane Sylve continued their  remarkable partnership; Daniel Deivision  his kinesthetic delivery; Sarah Van Patten her consistently strong attack. Koto Ishihara and Tiit Helimets lent strong visual contrast, Vanessa Zahorian’s musicality subdued by the choreographic demands.

Mark Morris’ Beaux chose nine male dancers to dance to Martinu’s Harpsichord Concerto. Exaggerated color spots by Isaac Mizrahi on both backdrop and the sleeveless unitard shorts for the dancers, showed off the finely-tuned male musculature handsomely, though the colored daubs did distract  This ballet possesses a similar timbre as Morris’ “A Garden,” something pleasant, seemingly off-hand, but actually sly, complex.

Morris used twos, threes, and quartets in phrases one normally associates with women, particularly women in a Balanchine ballet. Eschewing virtuoso turns, jumps, pirouettes, he relied on an
occasional gesture suggesting comraderie, mixing principal dancer and corps member  equally. The ensemble paused like men at a fancy ball, minus formal attire, though slight, enormously subtle.

Vito Mazzeo stood out like a signal tower,  Molat for his double duty for two consecutive ballets along with Castilla, and Joan Boada for his willingness to merge as part of the ensemble.

Christopher Wheeldon’s Number Nine launched with the sense of British martial music. With the startling ending where the women lept into the men’s arms, four sets of principals and eight pairs of corps members, Michael Torke’s score reeks of spit, polish, formations and parade grounds .  The dancers wore a yellow worthy of Van Gogh’s Provencal canvases, Holly Hynes echoing the ambiance by covering, rather than exposing the women’s bodies. Full strength was the order of the ballet with Dores Andres, Sofiane Sylve, SarahVan Patten, and Vanessa Zahorian joining Daniel Deivison, Vito Mazzeo, Ruben Martin Cintas and Garden Scribner rising to the occasion as if Admiral Nelson had sent an off stage signal, “England Expects Every Man To Do His Duty.”

This front and center delivery was repeated February 19 with Elana Altman, Frances Chung, Maria Kochetkova and Yuan Yuan Tan, partnered by Pascal Molat, Gennadi Nedvigin, Carlos Quenedit and Anthony Spaulding. In a first glimpse of  Quenedit, he presented himself as calm, cheerful with effortlessly good partnering skills.

It will be fascinating to see what Quenedit does with his assignment in Yuri Possokhov’s Francesca da Rimini.