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San Francisco Ballet's Repertory Program 2 is a varied evening which includes the very classical "Prism" of Helgi Tomasson to Beethoven's "Piano Concerto #1," the world premiere of Julia Adams' "Angelo," and it opens with Nacho Duato's "Without Words." This is a piece danced to six songs of Franz Schubert, arranged for cello and piano. It has photographs by Marty Sohl projected on the backdrop, that show moments in the ballet.

"Without Words" is an extremely sensual piece with eight principle dancers in flesh colored unitards. There's nothing rushed, everything happens in its own time. It begins with a trio of two men and a woman, but is mostly made up of pas de deux, and the partnering is astounding. The dancers mold themselves into exquisite shapes in constant motion. It's like a sped up vision of a flower opening as they move seamlessly from one position to the other. There are a lot of stretches, sweeping kicks, lifts and grand gestures. One of the most beautiful moments is towards the end when the ballerina jumps into the danseur's arms, rolls through them, around his torso, and down to the floor. In "Without Words," Duato perfectly translates Schubert's evocative music into extremely physical, almost erotic, and very fluid motion.


The world premiere of Julia Adam's "Angelo" is another extremely sensual piece, rich in symbolism, and set to the music of Vivaldi. The work was created as a showcase for Guennadi Nedviguine, and depicts Angelo's journey from birth to death. Against the vibrant mauve backdrop, there's a single tree with bare branches, like a picture by Vincent Van Gogh. A single dancer, the Mother enters at the rear. She's in bright crimson, the tree shimmers, grows leaves, and Angelo appears at the foot. They do a pas de deux as she lifts him up, she leads while the child gets his legs. They trade leads, he lifts her and they go back and forth. The music changes to "Spring" from "The Seasons," and Angelo's childhood. The playmates are lively and bouncy. He touches the girl, the spritely Tina LeBlanc. They flirt, he kisses her, and she pushes him off the stage into the orchestra pit. The backdrop changes to a golden orange. The young girl picks an apple and sensuously moves with it, while Angelo watches. This is youthful love. They embrace and roll on the floor.

There's a quartet of guys who take all the traditional male and female roles. They lift each other and roll over on their backs. We have a lot of short, quick jumps and sharp movements that capture the essence of Vivaldi. Next we have love and marriage as Angelo leaps and scissors around the stage. The backdrop turns to a deep red violet and the Mother returns to the Stabat Mater. A haunting boy soprano voice brings us full circle as Angelo is called home. Muriel Maffre's Mother is full of grand sweeping gestures and cuts one the most regal figures I've ever seen in this outstanding new ballet, "Angelo," by Julia Adam.


Richard Wagner called the Symphony #7 "The Apotheosis of the Dance," but Beethoven wrote nothing more danceable than the Piano Concerto #1 and Helgi Tomasson proves it in "Prism." Nine dancers capture the exuberant grandeur in high-spirited leaps, stretches, and pirouettes around the stage. The music's a classical smile, and the dance follows suit. It has a savoir-faire that's exhibited as two guys carry a girl held high in triumph. High flying men kick, split, and twirl to the orchestral crescendos, while Kristin Long flutters in dainty elegance to the piano lead.

In the slow movement Cyril Pierre and Lucia Lacarra lean against each other in love. Twelve or so dancers move like clockwork in the background. The lovers do a pas de deux, with the group in suspended animation. She does an arabesque straight up, then half. He lifts her, and three other couples follow in the background. Lacarra is fluid like a mountain stream, and lighter that air as Pierre lifts her and carries her.

For the final movement twelve girls line the sides as Gonzalo Garcia does a sizzling solo. He kicks, splits, and pirouettes like a flying top, while he freezes at the peak of his leaps in this powerfully elegant solo. Fourteen couples form the backing for the orchestra with fluttery footwork as the ballerina follows the piano to the climax of this perfectly cut diamond that is Helgi Tomasson's "Prism." The variety of styles, and astounding excellence of the company's choreographers as shown in Program 2 is a prime example of why I find the Repertory Mixed Evenings to be every bit as interesting as the full length ballets. The San Francisco Ballet Season continues through May 12.

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