The corps de ballet dancers of the San Francisco Ballet are so darned good, with their clean lines, lyricism and strength, that sometimes it seems unfair to assign them that lesser title, corps de ballet, particularly as artistic director Helgi Tomasson often uses them in soloist and even lead role capacities. All the more power to him and his dancers, for this. And it means we, as the audience, can discover some exciting talent in a new role.
And that’s what Saturday night, Program 3, was for me, watching Jennifer Stahl perform as the female lead in Yuri Possokhov’s “The Rite of Spring.” Apparently Stahl, a corps dancer since 2006, delivered such a riveting performance on Tuesday night as well, it merited her a promotion to soloist that very night.
She didn’t, however, appear out of nowhere to claim this prize. As early as 2008, Dance Magazine had slated her as one to watch ( http://www.dancemagazine.com/issues/January-2008/On-the-Rise ). And yet, in spite of this, like so many of the other wonderful female corps dancers (all the SFB dancers are wonderful–that’s the problem), Stahl remained in the corps for the next five years. That had to have been frustrating, given, as well, the promotions of three other female corps dancers in this past year alone. But Saturday night’s performance proved beyond a doubt that this was one corps dancer ready to make a permanent home within the ranks of soloist. And she was incredible. Riveting. Powerful, sexy and dynamic, and alternately, vulnerable and frightened and all those things that make “The Rite of Spring” work so well.
Congratulations, Jennifer Stahl, and brava. Watching your performance last night was thrilling. Looking forward to seeing more soloist roles from you.
PS: if you enjoyed reading about the San Francisco Ballet in performance, you might enjoy my review of Program 4 http://www.theclassicalgirl.com/?p=160 and Program 6 http://www.theclassicalgirl.com/?p=327