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Love, Denial, and Agony in SF Ballet's Season Opener

San Francisco Ballet Onegin

Girl falls in love with boy. He rejects her, only to change his mind years later. Complicated, yes? Onegin, the first full-length ballet of San Francisco Ballet’s 2012 season, manifests the perils of first love in a dramatic performance filled infatuation, rejection, envy, and regret.

The San Francisco Ballet Performs at Stern Grove This Weekend

Aside from crashing the War Memorial Opera House (you probably shouldn’t do that), heading to Stern Grove is one of the best ways to see the world-renowned San Francisco Ballet for free. Slapping down your credit card at the box office of the Opera de Paris-Palais Garnier or Sadler's Wells Theatre in London is also fun, but  such venues are a little more finicky about allowing audience members to tote in cold cuts and bottles of wine. So if you want to absorb culture (and salami) under towering trees, head to Stern Grove this Sunday.

 

ENCORE! Closing Night Party at Otis

On May 25, ENCORE!, San Francisco's young professionals premier social and education group focused on ballet, celebrated the close of the 2011 ballet season at Otis Lounge on Maiden Lane. The association creates social and educational opportunities and events for young Bay Area citizens by sharing the unique experience of the San Francisco Ballet with them. Otis attendees looked back at the capstones of 2011 and excitedly conversed about the upcoming performances for the 2012 season while sipping on delectable libations from Brugal Rum, Hendrick’s Gin, and ROOT.

San Francisco Ballet: Program 2

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.

Ready, Set, Ballet

Sure, Nutcracker is nice—for kids, nostalgia buffs, and balletophobes especially. But this weekend, ballet season begins in earnest when SF Ballet gears up for 2011 with the full-length classic Giselle (though Feb. 12). Premiered in 1841 and restaged here by artistic director Helgi Tomasson in 1999, the two-act ballet is romance personified: Man’s betrayal does girlfriend in, but girlfriend forgives him from the great beyond. If you want something more modern, wait for Program 2 (Feb.

San Francisco Ballet's Nutcracker

If you're more prone to appreciating charming scenes of glowing Christmas trees ascending to great heights or small children humming along with the symphony than the friend who told me, "I don't need ballet tickets to crack nuts," check out San Francisco Ballet's Nutcracker. (He would've been charmed too, he was just jealous he was missing out on the prancing sparkle ponies.) (Note: Clara's sleigh is towed by prancing sparkle ponies.) 

Ballerinas in the Mist: SF Ballet at Stern Grove

This post is for the subset of the San Francisco population inhabiting the Venn diagram interception between People Who Enjoy Classical Dance and People Fond of the Free. With the related but not strictly necessary parallel with People Fond of Drinking Booze at the Ballet.

Twinkle Toes


There was a distinct change in the weather Wednesday at City Hall for the 76th Opening Night Gala of the San Francisco Ballet.

The Nutcracker Debuts

Hundreds of little girls donning party dresses, tutus and patent leather shoes descended upon the War Memorial Opera House Thursday night to see young Clara make her way through a magical world of mice and soliders, Arabians and Russians, Spaniards and Chinese, in the San Francisco Ballet's opening night of Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker.

Even five years after Artistc Director Helgi Tomasson's makeover of the production, the set and costume design are still breakthaking. The Chronicle's Rachel Howard proclaimed the production "one of the best "Nutcrackers" in the country and, by my estimation, the most visually elegant."

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