New York manufacturer of fine dance apparel for women and girls.
Click here to see a sample of our products and a
list of web sites for purchasing.
With Body Wrappers it's always performance at its best.
Go back to Flash Reviews
Flash Review 3, 5-19: Guide to 'New' Dances
At SF Ballet Season-Closer, Ratmansky Starts the 'Carnaval,' Adam
Stiffens the Torso, and Welch Meanders
By Aimee Ts'ao
Copyright 2003 Aimee Ts'ao
SAN FRANCISCO -- In
recent years San Francisco Ballet began what looks like the start
of a tradition, having one of the last programs of the season be
a showcase for new works by emerging choreographers. This year was
no exception, and I went expectantly to the opening of Program 8
on Thursday, May 1 at the War Memorial Opera House, when Julia Adam,
Alexei Ratmansky and Stanton Welch unveiled their latest creations
for the company.
Adam's "imaginal disc"
is the first work she has made since the birth of her daughter last
spring. In the program book there is even a photo of a rehearsal
with the dancers where she has the baby in a carrier strapped to
her chest. I note this because 20 years ago I used to do the barre
of Alonzo King's ballet class with my son in his snugli and I know
exactly how it feels to move with the added weight and different
center of gravity. In "imaginal disc" Adam's tendency toward having
the dancers move with stiff torsos is even more noticeable. Is there
a connection? While the dance appears rather innocuous, I find the
constant repetition of choreographic phrases, albeit in a different
order, growing tedious as they are without variation or development.
Even the music reflects this and doesn't really have extreme contrasts
or memorable melodic elements. The piece of fabric stretching across
the stage and slowly moved forward by the women hidden behind it
seems odd, even out of place. This visual flaw is especially noticeable
in contrast to the women's costumes by Christine Darch and Benjamin
Pierce, which are stunning white filmy sheaths. The dancers all
do a solid job in their ensemble work, yet I sense they could be
so much more convincing with more complex and challenging choreography.
Things literally start
waking up with Alexei Ratmansky's "Le Carnaval des Animaux." The
curtain rising to the familiar score by Camille Saint-Saens reveals
the sleeping Lion (Jean-Francois Vilanoba) in the middle of the
stage. The odd menagerie of dancers rouse him from his nap and he
tears around the stage frightening them and tossing his mane while
tossing off some pretty demanding jumps and beats. Here we have
choreography that doesn't try to make the dancers into animals,
but rather suggests that they are fooling around, playing at making
caricatures of animals. Kristin Long leads the trio of Hens that
scurries across the stage and kicks the Lion off into the wings.
The Horses wear jockey caps and jackets and suddenly I see how ingenious
the costumes are for the whole ballet. Sandra Woodall has surpassed
herself, giving the Jellyfish a skirt that looks like an umbrella
around Muriel Maffre's waist, but with tentacles dangling down inside.
The Kangaroos sport coats with the tails wired to arch out behind,
echoing the curve of a real marsupial appendage.
While my eyes feast
on the gorgeous visuals (Woodall also undertook the scenic design,
which consists of mirrored wings that reflect the projections on
the cyclorama in a distorted way) my mind and kinesthetic sense
are reveling in some of the best choreography I've seen this season
anywhere. Not only are the steps interesting for each animal, but
Ratmansky plays the texture and rhythms of each variation off against
other groups of dancers on different parts of the stage. He also
captures the sly tongue-in-cheekiness that Saint-Saens wove into
the music. Originally written for his students, he refused permission
for it to be performed publicly during his lifetime, except for
"the Swan." Just listen to the slower than molasses "Tortoises"
("Turtles" in the ballet) and you might recognize that it's fellow
Frenchman Offenbach's famous can-can at a speed appropriate for
geriatric reptiles. Ratmansky turns the rivaling "Pianists" section
into a testosterone-driven competition between the men, only to
have the women triumph over them all. Maffre dances a gawky deadpan
Swan, parodying the Fokine version, while the rest sit on the floor
and execute exquisitely lyrical port de bras a la "Swan Lake." After
dying, though a more apt description would be croaking, she is awkwardly
carried limbs akimbo, belly down, off stage.
While all the dancers
are enjoying themselves immensely and communicating that to us,
Lorena Feijoo as the Elephant has us laughing hysterically. In her
bedraggled tutu and disheveled pigtails she stumbles and hops around
on pointe, does grande jetes with her torso hunched over her front
leg and creates a trunk by extending one arm out from her chin with
the other wrapped around the elbow. It's hard to believe that the
fiery and sensuous
Kitri who opened seven weeks ago in "Don Quixote" is
now a complete buffoon, a comedienne extraordinaire.
Ratmansky shows real
talent for integrating all the elements of a production. His choreography
is engaging, his musicality instinctive, and his meanings and humor
multi-layered. "Le Carnaval des Animaux" is fabulous and very funny.
Slated to run again next season, it is not to be missed.
The final premiere of
the evening is Stanton Welch's "Tu Tu," and it certainly is too,
too trop pour moi. In reality it isn't enough of anything. This
meandering for three couples and a corps of sixteen through Ravel's
"Concerto for Piano in G Major" is pretty pointless, despite program
notes to the contrary. (I also saw it again the following week with
a different cast, proving it isn't the dancers' fault.) The costumes
by Holly Hynes are an enigma. The men's shorts look like striped
swimming trunks and I am led to expect some beach-related activities.
The women's tutus have a beautiful metallic overskirt that seems
a bit art deco, but the faux exposed stomach and the halter top
are unflattering. The choreography itself doesn't seem to develop
in any direction or give me any impetus for serious thinking. The
one high moment is Muriel Maffre doing a solo. She moves with such
feeling, imbuing every gesture with such nuance that I momentarily
forget that the choreography itself is actually not that good. "Tu
Tu" is scheduled to be performed again next year, though I can't
Go back to Flash Reviews