Inspired by everything from Japanese theater to the Royal Air Force, San Francisco Ballet’s Program 2 manages to be both meditative and fiery, with serene white tutus topping technically perfect pirouettes from “some of the best dancers anywhere." (Financial Times)
Famed choreographer Frederick Ashton’s precise and visually striking Symphonic Variations provides the meditative portion of the program. Ashton spent World War II in the Royal Air Force reading up on mysticism and listening Cesar Franck's Symphonic Variations in obsessive loops. (Presumably, he also fought Nazis.) Symphonic Variations was the first ballet he created after coming home to England.
A story ballet in the Japanese Noh tradition, Yuri Possokhov’s new work RAkU is more about aesthetic and essence than specific timeline. Depicting the real-life burning of Kyoto’s Golden Pavilion in 1950, RAkU is simple and inventive, drawing from folk dance and butoh but without mimicking traditional Japanese steps. George Balanchine’s buoyant Symphony in C finishes the evening.
February 3-11. War Memorial Opera House, 301 Van Ness Avenue. Tickets are $30-265 at 415.865.2000 or sfballet.org.