Ballet San Jose’s gala of all galas

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Saturday night at San Jose’s Center for the Performing Arts was the gala of all galas for Ballet San Jose, to welcome new artistic director José Manuel Carreño, retired principal from American Ballet Theatre. The night’s lineup of dance featured a star-studded roster, the likes of which Bay Area audiences rarely get to see. I’ve already reviewed the performance (check out my review at Bachtrack here: http://www.bachtrack.com/review-nov-2013-ballet-san-jose-gala)  but there wasn’t enough room to praise everything, which is why a blog is very convenient. Here are a few more of my thoughts. In the interest of time and space, I’m going to focus on just the women. Sorry, guys! (And for the record, “NYCB” means New York City Ballet and “ABT” means American Ballet Theatre.)

NYCB’s Rebecca Krohn in Christopher Wheeldon’s After the Rain. This is a longtime favorite of mine, thanks to Yuan Yuan and Damian Smith (a performance you can see here: http://www.theclassicalgirl.com/artists-spotlight-yuan-yuan-tan/.) Krohn, with her shimmering, loose brown hair, soulful gaze and expressiveness, gave the piece the grace and gravitas it merited.

NYCB’s Ana Sophia Scheller, in Balanchine’s “Tchaikovsky pas de deux.” Scheller, lovely and ever light on her feet, had a delicious way of finishing every movement, every gesture, with a crisp finesse. Loved her bright smile and rock-solid pirouettes.

Ballet San Jose dancers in Jorma Elo’s “Glow-Stop.” Elo’s choreography is fast moving, highly articulated, yet requires legato moments, too, almost slow-motion, if only for a split-second. On the violin, you’d call this rubato. Well done, principals Alexandra Meijer and Ommi Pipit-Suksun, soloists Amy Marie Briones and Jing Zhang, corps dancers Cindy Huang and Annali Rose.

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ABT’s Gillian Murphy in Swan Lake’s Black Swan pas de deux. Powerful, assured dancing, as we watch Odile play out her dark, seductive role. Murphy’s partner, Thomas Forster, is still in the corps de ballet at ABT, interesting to note. Bet that changes within the year. 

ABT’s Julie Kent in MacMillan’s Romeo and Juliet balcony scene. Stunning. Poetry in motion. One of the night’s highlight performances for me. Perfect chemistry between her and partner Marcelo Gomes. I was just sighing with pleasure the entire time. 

Adiarys Almeida in the Le Corsaire pas de deux. During her solo, Almeida pounded out fouetté after fouetté, interspersed with triple (don’t quote me on this) pirouettes, which seemed to grow ever stronger and more precise with each rotation. Exhilarating to watch.

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Boston Ballet’s Lorna Feijoo in the pas de deux from Act II of Giselle. Dreamy and gorgeous. Feijoo’s bourées skimmed over the stage, tight and clean, creating a perfect spectral heroine, powerful in her restraint, the whisper-soft landing of all her precise footwork oh, so impressive.

NYCB’s Megan Fairchild in Balanchine’s “Tarantella.” Blazingly fast footwork, speed, whimsy mixed with strong technique. She and partner Daniel Ulbricht seemed to be having a lot of fun with this one. The audience did too.

ABT’s Misty Copeland in Twyla Tharp’s “Sinatra Suite.” Decked out in black dress and heels, Copeland hurled herself into her performance, committing herself wholly. Her loose limbed athleticism made her look like a rag doll being thrown around at times, amid this uneasy tango of love gone wrong. Brilliant performance.

San Francisco Ballet’s Maria Kochetkova in the Don Quixote grand pas de deux. This is a perennial favorite with crowds, and so is Kochetkova, deservedly so. With her trademark ultra-high extension and fabulous feet, her ability to hold balances and extensions, and the star power she brings to all she takes on, it was one hell of a way to end a hell of a gala.

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A note while singing the praises of this performance, this triumphant gala hailing a new era for Ballet San Jose. The company wouldn’t be here if it hadn’t been for the hard-working efforts of founder and former artistic director Dennis Nahat, who was forced out in a very un-PC fashion, in early 2012. A blog about a gala night and the welcome of a new artistic director is no time to rehash the past, which is why I will leave it at thanking Dennis Nahat for the institution he created and for the twenty-five years of service he put into building Ballet San Jose. Thank you Mr. Nahat, and best wishes for the future, Mr. Carreño and the Ballet San Jose dancers.

And thank you for last Saturday night. You put on one hell of a gala.

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PS: readers, did I tell all of you to check out my full review at Bachtrack? I did, huh? Well, here’s the link again, anyway: http://www.bachtrack.com/review-nov-2013-ballet-san-jose-gala

PPS: I’ve decided it’s not fair to mention only the women, who could not have performed so spectacularly without the assistance of their partners. And I already mentioned a few, so here are the rest. Gonzalo Garcia, Ask La Cour, Joseph Gatti, Joaquin De Luz, Nelson Madrigal and Taras Domitro. From Ballet San Jose, Damir Emric, James Kopecky, Jeremy Kovitch, Joshua Seibel, Maykel Solas, Kendall Teague. Well done, gents.

 

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