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Bravo! Balanchine - City Ballet of San Diego - review-Mar.4,2012


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"Bravo! Balanchine"

 

City Ballet of San Diego

Spreckels Theatre

March 4, 2012

 

A program composed entirely of Balanchine ballets is an obvious challenge. City Ballet's ability to meet that challenge is a given; this was a performance of Balanchine worthy of any stage. Each of the Company's twenty-one plus dancers has been carefully chosen to fit into the vision of Artistic Director Steven Wistrich – no one is there by happenstance or temporary need. The Company doesn't import stars to fill a theatre; it grows with intelligent planning.

 

Who Cares?

 

Ariana Samuelsson and Geoffrey Gonzalez began a bit coolly, but warmed as they progressed into Gershwin's "Man I Love." Samuelsson always dances largely, commanding her space. Gonzalez is a careful worthy partner and when given his own space uses it to good effect. Emily Kirn was fun and playful in "I'll Build a Stairway to Paradise." Katherine Spagnoletti sailed through "Fascinatin' Rhythm," making light of some difficult and demanding allegro. Erica Alvarado produced a series of spot on fouettés, throwing in an occasional double and then without any hesitation spun out into chainé tours. Gonzalez swished along Fred Astaire-esque in "Liza." The dancers ripped into "I Got Rhythm" – which they certainly did.

 

Agon

 

This is Balanchine at his most intelligent and undressed. In simple black leotards for the women and black and white for the men – there is nothing to come between the dance and the observer's eye as shape and movement are explored as only a master choreographer can. Megan Jacobs, Ariana Samuelsson and Geoffrey Gonzalez led the Company in a detailed and lucid performance. Trystan Loucado in composer Igor Stravinky's "Serabande" section incorporated the sometimes quirky style built on a classical structure – making it his own. "Panache" was the word which came to my mind as I watched him.

 

In the "Pas de Deux," Samuelsson and Gonzalez gave life to a vision of what dance should be: an expression of the music and a product of a creative mind. The choreography is complex and yet must be made to seem natural in that unnatural world of the theater. They made it shine.

 

Donizetti Variations

 

The bright Germanic (think Giselle, First Act) skirts for the women and comparable costumes for the men were appropriate for Donizetti's music – quite a change from the previous ballet. Erica Alvarado and Stephano Candreva led the Company; she in bright red – appropriate for the firecracker of a dancer that she is. Petite but exuding aplomb, she set the mood with an entrance of erupting pas de Russe – seldom done by women. Candreva is a good match both as a dancer and as a partner. I would like to see him reach further – aim at something beyond our sight.

 

Altogether this was a splendid program; a testimony to a thoughtful and fruitful artistic vision.

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Thanks for this wonderful review, Anjuli. I'm just catching up on the forum after a couple of evenings out (can't look at it at work during the day) and what a pleasure it was to read this. It's lovely to hear about companies that we probably won't get to see here in London. Please keep posting for us!

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