Smuin, SF Ballet going inside and out with new programs

The long wait is almost over for ballet lovers.

The rising number of Californians fully vaccinated and the state’s falling Covid-19 infection rate mean that San Francisco Ballet will soon be able to present dance to in-person audiences.

In the meantime, there are some up-close-and-personal options for SF Ballet fans in need of a terpsichorean fix — and two of them revolve around classic works adapted by company artistic director Helgi Tomasson.

Another venerable Bay Area company, Smuin Contemporary Ballet, has found an intermediate path in the pandemic reopening landscape, offering a blend of new works and old favorites in a series of outdoor performances titled “Smuin Al Fresco.” The three-week series kicks off May 9 at the Bruns Amphitheatre in Orinda.

For SF Ballet, the latest work in the streaming queue is Helgi Tomasson’s captivating “Romeo & Juliet,” which will be available from May 6–26. Shot with multiple cameras at the War Memorial Opera House, the film was originally created in 2015 for “Lincoln Center at the Movies: Great American Dance” and stars former company principal dancers Maria Kochetkova and Davit Karapetyan.

Maria Kochetkova and Davit Karapetyan star in SF Ballet’s “Romeo and Juliet.” (Erik Tomasson/San Francisco Ballet) 

A company mainstay since premiering during SF Ballet’s 1994 repertory season, “Romeo and Juliet” is set to Sergei Prokofiev’s oft-used score, which is performed in the film by the SF Ballet Orchestra under the direction of Music Director Martin West. Among the many different SF Ballet casts featured in the dance, “I felt that Kochetkova and Davit worked very well together,” Tomasson said.

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“She’s 13 at the start of the ballet, and grows into someone who falls in love and marries in less than two hours, and you’re aware of her growth from the way she dances. She did that very well, and they played off one another, which is ideal.”

Tomasson worked closely with director Thomas Grimm to create a film with its own cinematic character. The dancers weren’t performing for the cameras (“They did what they normally do on stage,” Tomasson said), but the tightly framed close ups create a kind of intimacy rarely experienced at the Opera House.

“We were able to use that opportunity to show the human drama taking place,” Tomasson said. “In a scene like with Juliet going through the difficult decision of whether to take the sleeping potion or not, you see the human struggle.”

“Romeo and Juliet” is part of the online package with Tomasson’s 21st century reimagining of “Swan Lake,” which is available May 20-June 9 and features sets and costumes by Tony Award-winning designer Jonathan Fensom.

Helgi Tomasson’s acclaimed adaptation of the classic “Swan Lake” will be streamed by SF Ballet May 20-June 9. (Erik Tomasson/San Francisco Ballet) 

The 2021 Digital Season also includes Program 05, available through May 12, with Cathy Marston’s “Snowblind,” David Dawson’s “Anima Animus,” and Tomasson’s “7 for Eight.”

Rather than waiting for indoor clearance, Smuin has found outdoor venues at which to perform. The company has developed programs working in small groups to help prevent the spread of Covid-19. The spring offerings kick off with two live afternoon …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment

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