San Francisco Ballet Casting & Programming Change for Stern Grove 2012

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All slideshow ^ photos © Erik Tomasson

Yuan Yuan Tan & Davit Karapetyan in Balanchine’s ‘Scotch Symphony’; Photo © Erik Tomasson

San Francisco Ballet Casting & Updated Programming for Stern Grove Performance, 7/29/12, 2pm

Please note the following changes in SF Ballet’s Stern Grove program: Myles Thatcher’s lyrical and undulating Spinae will replace the pas de deux from Tomasson’s 7 for Eight. Odette fell in love with the May 30th, 2012, performance of  Spinae at SF Ballet School’s 2012 Student Showcase and is pleased to report it will again be performed by the SF Ballet School Trainees and Company Apprentices. This is the 2nd year that SFB has decided to share the stage with its own talented pre-professionals (currently on their own tour in Tokyo!) and I promise you won’t be disappointed. Last year’s Stern Grove performance of Thatcher’s Timepiece was proof that these young dancers deserve their hard-won place on that stage. This isn’t just *any* group of ballet students-this is a hand-selected mini-troupe from one of the best schools in the country; most of these dancers will find professional jobs in major companies, if we won’t see them in SFB itself.

San Francisco Ballet Students & Trainees in Thatcher’s ‘Spinae’, 5/30/12 Student Showcase; Photo © Erik Tomasson

Christopher Wheeldon’s Number Nine will replace Within in the Golden Hour. All I have to say about that is this: Though Within the Golden Hour seems to be preferred by SFBalletomanes, I think it is a very wise choice to save it for the Opera House stage this next season. Why? The lighting is so integral to the ballet that my fear, upon receiving the first press release, was that much of the atmospheric quality would be lost in the light of day and I would hate for anyone to see the ballet in less than its optimum conditions. The highly technical Number Nine may not be as poetic, but let’s face it-it’s still Wheeldon, right? And I think this technicolor ballet might shine anew on the outdoor stage. I have nicknamed it ‘The Crayola Ballet’, while a friend often refers to the brilliantly costumed dancers as “Lollipops”. (She happens to prefer the male “Orange Lollipops” best, but I’ll leave you to go scurrying for your cast sheets before I give her preferences away.)

Dores Andre & Pascal Molat in Wheeldon’s ‘Number Nine’; Photo © Erik Tomasson

(Their initials are PM and DDO)

(PM is pictured on this page. DDO is from Brazil).

(Was that bad of me?)


The order and casting of the new ‘Grove’ program for Sunday, July 29, is:

Choreographer: George Balanchine
Composer: Felix Mendelssohn
Conductor: Martin West

Yuan Yuan Tan, Davit Karapteyan
Nicole Ciapponi


Choreographer: Myles Thatcher
Composers: Phil Kline and Mary Ellen Childs

Lacey Escabar, Lauren Parrott, Emma Rubinowitz
Alexander Reneff-Olson, Wei Wang
Jeanette Kakareka, Mimi Tompkins
Aaron Renteria, Devon Carbone, Max Cauthorn


Choreographer: Hans van Manen
Composer: Johann Sebastian Bach
Conductor: Martin West

Gennadi Nedvigin, James Sofranko, Hansuke Yamamoto

Choreographer: Christopher Wheeldon
Composer: Michael Torke
Conductor: Martin West

Frances Chung, Pascal Molat
Vanessa Zahorian, Garen Scribner
Sarah Van Patten, Ruben Martin Cintas,
Sasha DeSola, Vitor Luiz


^Note that popular Soloist (and one of SFB’s strongest contemporary Artists), Garen Scribner, and the Corps de Ballet dancer (and newlywed!) that wowed us in Balanchine’s Divertimento No. 15, Sasha De Sola, are strutting their very talented stuff along with some of the company’s biggest stars in Number Nine.

Newbies and longstanding SFBalletomanes will be equally delighted by van Manen’s SOLO as we rediscover that sometimes it takes a rivalry (and revelry) of *3* to dance a solo. This romp of a gala piece features 2 familiar SOLO faces, Gennadi Nedvigin and Hansuke Yamamoto, along with James Sofranko making his debut, and will have you smiling from beginning to end-or Odette will give you your money back!*

*(Did I mention that the fabulous Stern Grove summer performances, including SF Ballet’s program, are FREE?)

Hansuke Yamamoto in van Manen’s SOLO; Photo © Erik Tomasson

I have to save descriptive comments about Thatcher’s gorgeous Spinae for my actual review, but here’s a sneak peek; two video clips are from the free City Hall Rotunda Series performance last season (one from my new blogging buddy, Jeff Tabaco of The Music and the Mirror), one video is an interview with the choreographer and SFB Corps de Ballet dancer, Myles Thatcher, on choreographing his ballet on the Trainees, and the photos are from the SFBS 5/30/12 Student Showcase I attended:

Interview with Myles Thatcher
Spinae at City Hall Rotunda Series footage, 1st clip view
Spinae at City Hall Rotunda Series footage, 2nd clip

San Francisco Ballet Students & Trainees in Thatcher’s ‘Spinae’, 5/30/12 Student Showcase; Photo © Erik Tomasson

Balanchine’s odd little gem, Scotch Symphony, featuring ‘Scots in Skirts’ (I couldn’t resist saying that, but will clarify that there are, indeed, a lot of young men in tartan present), a lovely sylph in a diaphanous pink romantic skirt, and a sprightly kilt-adorned female soloist in my favorite RED POINTE SHOES (thank you, Nicole!), features last season’s opening star pair, Davit Karapetyan and Yuan Yuan Tan. See our beloved ‘YY’ in this and you’ll know ‘Why YY Wows’!

Courtney Elizabeth in Balanchine’s ‘Scotch Symphony’; Photo © Erik Tomasson

Yuan Yuan Tan & Davit Karapetyan in Balanchine’s ‘Scotch Symphony’; Photo © Erik Tomasson


 As always: please be informed that in the event of injury or illness, casting is subject to change. Please check the official SFB Casting page for updates here:


For more information about Stern Grove and its 75th Season, please visit their web site here.


A few words to the wise: Come early-really early-for the best spot, if you don’t want to be sitting up in the trees with binoculars (I kid not!); this is one of *the* most popular free (or otherwise) events in San Francisco.

That said, come with friends, a picnic, a comfortable pillow and blankie/towel to sit on (with a waterproof tarp underneath if you come uber-early, as the grass is VERY dewy in the morning) and the time will fly. I used to bring a book and headphones to kill the time before the performance, but found there really is no need. The dancers will soon be warming up on stage for all to see (no curtain!), the orchestra will be rehearsing, and the fireflies will be soaring, so you will be as entertained by the pre-performance activites as by the actual performance. The outdoor air is rife with happy summer feelings and the camaraderie of fellow dance lovers.

I cannot stress this enough: WEAR LAYERS, A HAT, AND BRING SUNGLASSES AND SUNSCREEN! The weather *can* be ‘moist’ (polite Odettespeak for foggy as hell). The morning often begins in a foggy 50 degrees, but you may find yourself sweating in honest-to-goodness summer heat and wishing you were in a tank top before the performance ends.

Then again-the fog may not lift at all. Or it may not even appear. After all, this is San Francisco, peeps!


Finally: I love to reconnect with SFBalletomanes at this event, so please come find me at one of the picnic tables.


A previous post here, which addressed SFB’s first 2012 Stern Grove programming announcement, which has since changed, is still worth visiting. Why would you still want to visit it? To view the SIX video clips from 2011’s Grove show, including Sofiane Sylve’s Isadora Duncan Dance Award winning Symphony in C performance!

~~~ See You at the Ballet!~~~

About Odette's Ordeal

'Ballet's Head Cheerleader'
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1 Response to San Francisco Ballet Casting & Programming Change for Stern Grove 2012

  1. Akasha Kei says:

    Wow, a lot of talent. My best wishes ❤

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