The San Francisco Ballet's Repertory Program II celebrates the choreography of Jerome Robbins. The program opens with Stravinsky's "Circus Polka." This is a fun piece that previews future stars with 48 of the youngest students at The San Francisco Ballet School. Circus Master Helgi Tomasson playfully cracks the whip and puts them thrlough their paces. He's in a black top hat, red jacket, and white shirt and pants. The girls are in three groups, ranging in age from about 6 - 17 years old. They move in perfect lines and circles, the end forming the initials IS. The set has ropes, a trapeze, and a rope ladder hanging from the ceiling. This is transformed into a spidery web for the second piece, "The Cage." This is a strange piece, also danced to Stravinsky, this time "The Concerto in D for String Orchestra." The program notes inform us: "There occurs in certain forms of insect and animal life, and even in our own mythology, the phenomenon of the female of the species considering the make as prey. This ballet concerns the rites of such a species." The work opens with a group of about a dozen of these females hovering over their fallen prey. As they drag him off stage, they split into two groups and we meet the Queen and the Novice. In this piece hands and feet become claws and pincers. Lucia Lacarra's Novice is wobbly as she stumbles gracefully upon trying to stand after being born in the First Variation. This is an amazingly athletic role as she gains her feet and balance and gets strength and confidence in the spiky movement of her species. Her body seems to move in sections as she bends at the waist with knees stiff, arms at another angle, stiff at the elbow. She glides effortlessly across the stage like this and her movement turns her into this terrifyingly elegant predatory mantis like creature. After killing the first intruder, she's captivated by the second. She alternately attacks, then melts into him in a sensuously seductive pas de deux. "The Cage" is one of the eeriest pieces I've seen with a very disturbing power and dramatic effect.
"In the Night" is set against a dark backdrop of sparkling stars to Chopin Nocturnes. There is a romantic cohesiveness and elegance to the whole, but each has it's own character, with three different pas de deux. The Nocturne OP. 27 #1 is tender and lyrical with passionate crescendos. OP. 55 #1 and 2 are a bit lighter and playful, while in OP. #2 Sabina Allemann is flighty and standoffish. She doesn't really know if Yuri Possokhov is the one, and she furtively dances off and comes back and finally stays. Anthony Dowell's elegant costumes add to the beautiful romanticism of "In the Night." All of the first three works are choreographed almost exclusively on women, with the men serving almost as props.
The final work on the program is the San Francisco Ballet premiere of "Glass Pieces," choreographed to three pieces of music by Philip Glass, "Rubric" and "Facades" from "Glassworks" and the opening funeral music from the opera "Akhnaten." We have white rectangular arches framing the stage and a cast of 43 dancers suggesting various aspects of life in the big city. In the opening scene 36 dancers walk diagonally across the stage. This continues, as a couple does a pas de deux among them, then a different couple, and finally a third. The couples are each in slightly different flesh colored tights against the vibrantly clad walkers. The second part has a line of dancers at the back moving in incremental steps to the incremental music while Katita Waldo and Stephen Legate spin and twirl in a mesmerizing pas de deux in the foreground. The final section is a vibrantly ritualistic piece. A group of 6 men is replaced by 6 women. They glide across the entire stage, one group replacing another, increasing in number, building in intensity in a wild cacophony of rhythm. They move to the towering climax of 12 men and 12 women in this electrifying work of Jerome Robbins, "Glass Pieces." The San Francisco Ballet Repertory season continues at the Opera House through April.
Last Updated by Paul Berenson on Thursday, January 28, 1999