About

Dedicated to the Dancers & Fans of San Francisco Ballet (12/28/11 Update: and now all SF Bay Area Dance!), with Much Loving Focus on International Dance News 

 

 Welcome to Odette’s Ordeal-A Site for Sore Swans & Serious Ballet Fans in San Francisco! 

      You are here either because you are one of my faithful Dance ‘Peeps’ and have received an invitation to this Sneak Peek, or you’ve found me due to your own enthusiasm for the Dancers (yes, Dancers with a capital ‘D’!) of San Francisco Ballet. I appreciate your patience; this site is ‘Under Construction’!

  This newborn  web site is the natural evolution of the 4+ year old SFB Newsy Bits, a Newsletter formerly existing in email format, dedicated to the Dancers of San Francisco Ballet and their Fans, not officially associated with San Francisco Ballet, and indeed authored by Teri McCollum (aka SFB’s Head Cheerleader!) as ODETTE! 

(New 12/28/11 Note to Odette’s Faithful: In addition to everything above and below, Odette has now officially extended her loving feathered embrace to include most SF Bay Area dance events-with a goal to include all local companies-and a smattering of internationally significant dance news, with special focus on companies touring and simulcasting their performances in our area.)    

While adhering to my unique Dancer Friendly style and non-invasive policy you will continue to receive:         

SFB Dancer news that includes the Dancers’ Guest Artist appearances around the globe, Casting Updates, Odette’s customary tips, suggestions, and musings, Odette’s SFB Dancers-Past & Present series, Dancer Roster updates, YouTubes, photos, links to interviews and articles, Odette’s Observations (rather than ‘reviews’) of SFB Programs, a separate area featuring all the official reviews (Dancers can avoid this area if they so choose!), and Odette’s often amusing (so I’ve been informed…) commentary.     

  

‘Coming Soon’ to Odette’s Ordeal:         

Odette’s Dancer Bios Eventually Odette hopes to have, pending permission from each Dancer, all the Dancers’ evolving biographies, links to their own public sites, blogs, and YouTubes, links to SFB’s bios, podcasts, and video clips, and unique and sometimes exclusive photos not found on SFB’s already visually stunning site(s). In this section Odette will also provide commentary about each dancer’s memorable performances, strengths, and whatever else she can contribute to further our awareness of that particular SFB Artist.

        Odette’s Exclusive SFB Dancer Interviews Trust me, I’m as excited as you are! Odette’s first interview is in the works and will be featured in the soon-to-be launched Odette’s OrdealAnd it will feature an exclusive photo shoot of the interview subject in all her glory (there’s your first hint)!          

Dance Makers This series is dedicated to the talented Choreographers who have created or ‘set’ their ballets on the equally talented Dancers of SFB. The Dancers’ bodies may live the dreamscape we witness onstage, but it is the Choreographer’s vision that gives them that breath of life. A choreographer is not just an architect of Dance; He/She, as the Dance Maker, is the Creator/Co-Creator of the Dancer’s onstage world. This site would not be complete without giving homage to the ‘Gods’ and ‘Goddesses’ who create the worlds our favorite Dancers inhabit.          

When Dancers Shoot Dancers This just may be the series I am most excited about! Dance differs from its siblings in the visual arts in that it is uniquely an ephemeral visual art. Balletomanes have a rough life in this respect, as we can never watch the same beloved live performance more than once.

Alas…’YY’ (Yuan Yuan) will never perform the ‘Rose Adagio’ in Sleeping Beauty the same way twice. (Note: If you saw her execute the Never-Ending Balance in that one performance, you probably held your breath and then started screaming with the rest of us-as only SFBalletomanes can!-from the sheer intensity of the moment…and you’ll never ever forget it, am I right?!) Pascal may ham it up in The Concert differently each time he performs it. Yes, the choreography will be the same, but his facial expressions may enliven the character with a slight variance to his comedic flair on Sat. night than they did on Tues. night. Vitor may have launched Lorena in the air just a tad higher in the ‘Don Q’ (Don Quixote) pas de deux, on an indoor stage in the Napa Valley…than when he did performing the same toss on a slick outdoor stage-after it rained!-at Stern Grove. Muriel’s Carabosse threw the spindle down so that it literally stuck straight up out of the floor (!) only that one time. And Sarah’s mad Mermaid scene kept evolving each and every night she performed it. 

We all have cherished memories of once-in-a-lifetime performances, but that’s just it; we can only see them once. And then …poof!…they’re gone. 

So when a Dance photographer presents us with a beautiful image that captures the essence of the Dancer and/or the Dance, we are supremely appreciative of the worthy contribution to our mental Ballet scrapbooks. Such an image is a gift.

 

What occurs when a Dancer photographs other Dancers is a unique alchemy of skill, body empathy, artistry, and often…sheer magic. Who, other than a Dancer, knows better where the apex of a jump or the most fully elongated lines will occur?

 This series was inspired by the wonderful response to a game I created for my readers 2 seasons ago featuring SFB’s Corps Dancer Quinn Wharton as the ‘Mystery Photographer’. Quinn’s natural artistic eye for shooting his peers, often in surprising locales (and sometimes with unusual props!), continues to evolve and delight me. This new and improved series will highlight some of the most stunning photography you’ve ever seen of many of our favorite Dancers…and will be shot by Dancers. And though Quinn will again be featured (he is blessedly prolific in the off-season!), I have some wonderful new Dancer/Photographers to unveil.

In my very first issue of this new series, I will be highlighting the fresh inspirations of a rapidly rising talent-the Dancer/Photographer whose photographic contributions to Odette’s Ordeal you see before you. It is his artistry that makes this site as gorgeous as it is, as is evidenced by my featured ‘banner’ (the header at the top of my site) and the images on this page. As he is also responsible for the photos that will accompany my first Dancer interview, it is only appropriate that I include an exclusive photo gallery devoted entirely to ‘The Shoot!’. Stay tuned for this unique collaboration of my interview subject (the lovely SFB Dancer who modeled for Odette’s Ordeal), this enormously talented Wizard of a photographer, and myself! 

          

Second Peasant From the Left We San Francisco Balletomanes eagerly await ‘Casting’ news and wonder amongst ourselves: Who will open Giselle in 2011? Will Masha be reprising her Izzie award-winning role with Joan? Will Lorena dance The Little Mermaid? Who will dance the leads Franz & Swanilda in the new SFB/PNB production of Balanchine’s Coppelia? Will Clara dance the Doll/Coppelia role? Who will be featured in Yuri’s World Premiere? Where’s Jaime? Who will be cast in Elizabeth Loscavio’s role in Helgi’s Nanna’s Lied?… And we take this all very seriously.

What we loyal SFB fans also eagerly anticipate, however, are the moments when a member of the Corps has or takes the opportunity to shine. We hover over our Dancer Rosters and congregate together at intermissions asking each other who that “new kid”, “young dancer”, or even “Second Peasant from the Left” is. This series pays tribute to the hardworking Dancers in the SFB Corps, and the youngest Dancers given the prestigious monikers of ‘Apprentice’ or ‘Trainee’. 

This new series will make its debut with Odette’s afore-mentioned first interview, featuring a beautiful and gifted Corps Dancer (seen in the stunning photos on this page) who is representative of the smart, socially conscious, and politically active new breed of young artists. Bonus: Those exclusive photos, of course!!!         

Random Treats In keeping with my admitted eccentricities in utilizing non-sensical segues into strange territories, I nominate myself for the title ‘Queen of Random’. If you’re one of my SFB Newsy Bits subscribers, or otherwise familiar with my writing, you know you can ‘expect the unexpected’ (!), complete with said random segues, witticisms that try too hard, and other inanities.

      Readers’ Comments Finally! A forum for every SFBalletomane’s questions, comments, informational addendums, and general whatnot! My Newsletter has prompted many of you to address comments to me in email format now for quite a while. The thing is: No one else has been able to join in our conversations! Now you will have the opportunity to have your say, contribute your own thoughts about what I’ve dared to present on my site (!), pay special tribute to your favorite Dancers’ performances, and everyone can ‘play’, Dancers not to be excluded! 

Odette has her opinions, to which many of you have been privy, but Odette is only too willing to offer her readers the chance to banter, argue and, most importantly, share Dancer news she may have missed with her readers. Of course, comments will be monitored for spam, inappropriateness, and MUST abide by Odette’s non-Dancer-bashing Golden Rule: If you can’t say something nice, don’t say it here! (There are other forums for that!) Above all, remember this is a Fan site for the Dancers. And Fans say nice things about their favorites’ performances.  

 Odette’s White & Black Feather Awards No, this is not about White Feather=Good performance and Black Feather=Bad Performance; Both of these Awards will be for beyond-amazing performances. Full details coming, but here’s a *hint*: 

In Swan Lake the role of Odette (the White Swan) is primarily an ‘adagio’ (meaning a slow movement) role requiring lyricism, extreme musicality, and an excruciating and highly contolled technique…while the role of Odile (the Black Swan) is mostly about bravura, stamina, speed, and technical fireworks, and usually featuring the famous Black Swan Pas de Deux which requires the demanding skills needed for ‘petite allegro’ (small and fast barely describes the often lightning-speed footwork), and ‘Grand Allegro’ (the big and fast section) with huge jumps, multiple turns, and those legendary 32 fouettes that make up one of the most exciting parts of the ballet. Both the White and Black Swan place great, and yet very different, demands on the Dancer. (*Note to ‘Newbies’: Both the Odette and Odile roles in Swan Lake are traditionally danced by the same Dancer, unbelievable as that may seem!)

It is with this in mind that I have created Odette’s White Feather & Black Feather Awards. I’ll be placing amazing performances that are lyrical, romantic, or classically-derived in the White Feather category. In the Black Feather category you will find edgy, contemporary, athletic, and highly technical performances. Of course there will be some ‘crossover’ effect and I’ll deal with that as it comes up. 

 Fan-tasy Casting Let’s just admit it right here and now-We all do it! And what exactly is it that we do, you may well ask? Every serious SFBalletomane participates, silently or otherwise, in their own little game of wishful thinking; They cast their favorite ballets with the Dancers they’d like to see dance particular roles. As long as we approach it in the manner of casting that we’d like to see in addition to and not instead of SFB’s own casting, and as long as we are respectful to the Dancers-let’s all play! Who do you want to see dance the role of _______? (Fill in the blank!)  

(And because it’s my site, I’m going first!: Couldn’t we please have Sleeping Beauty in 2012…with Frances Chung as Princess Aurora? And maybe Othello with Sarah Van Patten as Desdemona and Anthony Spaulding as Othello in 2013?)<<<It never hurts to ask!      

Create Your Own Ballet Do you have an idea, concept or story you’d love to see made into a ballet? I know I have a couple! Pitch it (for fun) here! Who would you want to choreograph it? Who are your characters and which Dancers would you cast? Would you commission a new score, use existing music, or a new arrangement of an old favorite? Would it be contemporary and edgy? Romantic? Dramatic? A new story ballet? Is there a Grand Pas de Deux? A pas de trois? A corps? Mixed media? A message? What about costumes, set design, and lighting? No Ballet terminology or experience needed! (I have no idea what this will spawn! lol)        

And the Most Exciting News (drumroll & fanfare, please!) for Odette:      

    M & Z (!!!)  <<<This one is Odette’s biggest surprise! Check here often for Updates and Hints! Here’s Hint #1:

Odette is currently in negotiations with two potential guest columnists who, between them, boast countless years of dance experience. Their names cannot be revealed until negotiations are complete, but their artistic influence looms large in the history of dance and they bring with them an unparalleled range of extraordinary contacts among the legendary icons of Ballet. 

(!!!) <They don’t call me SFB’s Head Cheerleader for nothing!

Stay tuned for updates regarding M & Z!  

  See You at the Ballet!      

    "Odette" Sneak Peak!         

‘Odette’         

   Teri McCollum          

SFB’s Head Cheerleader 

 and

P.S. COMMENTS HEARTILY ENCOURAGED! Scroll to the bottom of the page to post!

   P.P.S. SFB Newsy Bits (my old newsletter in email format), has been officially retired. You may contact me personally at OdettesOrdeal@aol.com  

Surprise!!!

If you have read this far, there is a reward for the faithful-a slide show with a few extra images thrown in…to aid you in guessing the name of my SFB ballerina model (and 1st interview) for Odette’s Ordeal!:  

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

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11 Responses to About

  1. KD says:

    Anyway to guess what nights Yuan Yuan will perform Little Mermaid? Will she rotate with one other principal? or more? I presume she has opening night- but any guesses as to how performances will go after that based on 2010 performances?

    • Hi KD-
      That’s such a good question and I get it all the time. It is, indeed, very frustrating to many of us that Casting isn’t posted till a few days before the performance. However, there are so many variables that affect Mr. Tomasson’s decision, not the least of which are injuries and illness. Mr. Tomasson may indeed have his Cast in mind, but as we get nearer to the program in question, these variables have to be considered. Yuan Yuan Tan was remarkable and a good bet for Opening Night. But Sarah Van Patten also gave an amazing performance and has an equal chance in my mind. Mr Tomasson may ‘spread the wealth’ with Opening Nights, and choose Sarah this time, since ‘YY’ opened Giselle. Not to be forgotten is the fact that Lorena Feijoo was also to dance the role of Mermaid last season. I believe it was her partner’s injury that prevented her from dancing. Giselle and Coppelia Casting changed several times for various reasons this season. So, no; I have no idea who will dance Opening Night, but if all goes well with YY and her partner, Tiit Helimets, I expect to see them both a few times in The Little Mermaid. There may be someone else up Mr. Tomasson’s sleeve that we don’t know about, as well. The best I can do for you is to announce Casting as soon as I know it, but even then, things can change even on the day of performance. One thing we have to be grateful for is the fact that SFB provides us with advance Casting at all; some Companies don’t! I hope this is helpful.
      ‘Odette”

  2. JON BORSET says:

    I JUST READ YOUR REVIEW OF THE OPENING OF ‘THE LITTLE MERMAID’
    AND LOVED IT! I’M AWAITING ‘PART 2’ WITH GREAT ANTICIPATION.
    I’M SEEING ‘MERMAID’ AGAIN ON WEDNESDAY WITH SARAH AND WANT YOUR OPINION.

    • Hi Jon,
      I was originally going to see Sarah as ‘Mermaid’ on Wed. as well. But I ended up with unexpected tix for the filming on Tues. and am going again tonight. I expect to see Sarah tomorrow (Fri) or Sat night. I’ll post the review ‘Part 2’ shortly thereafter. I heard her ‘Mermaid’ has matured since last season, so I’m very much looking forward to it.
      ‘Odette’

  3. Frank Highly says:

    In the interest of reporting “International Dance News”…
    One of my personal favorite dancers, Marie-Agnès Gillot (of the Paris Opera Ballet) is preparing her first choreographed piece for the POB (premiered alongside a Merce Cunningham piece). There is a video announcement (in French) at:
    http://www.operadeparis.fr/saison_2012_2013/Ballets/gillot-cunningham/detail/

    Maybe it’s just me, but this seems like a rather big deal for the POB to actually be putting money, time and effort into this project. I don’t know of any previous examples of female étoiles choreographing original work while at the POB. Or am I wrong?

    • Frank Highly says:

      Actually, the URL above is the main page, the video URL is now:
      http://www.operadeparis.fr/en/saison_2012_2013/Ballets/gillot-cunningham/decouvrir/presentation/video
      (Language for the website can be changed to English by clicking link at the top right of the website.)

      • Frank-
        I confess I’ve been much distracted by SFB, ABT, NYCB, Bolshoi Tour, and Royal Ballet dancer doings lately. I am happy to post this in the hopes that someone else, more recently attuned to POB happenings, can answer your question. I greatly admire the exquisite dancing of étoile Marie-Agnès Gillot and had also seen their 2012-13 programming. It seems she has created this new piece in hommage to Merce Cunningham, actually, and has also used the music of Cunningham’s favorite composer-John Cage.
        I only wish POB came to the Bay Area more frequently. I am extremely grateful for the many POB taped performances and can only hope I will get to see this new ballet in digital format or simulcast, if not live. As to whether this is a first for a female étoile to choreograph a ballet for POB, while still dancing at POB, I don’t know. It does seem like a huge honor.
        ‘Odette’

  4. Frank Highly says:

    I agree that the POB needs to visit San Francisco soon. I especially love the Dupont/Gillot/Letestu generation of dancers, and as they are all approaching forced retirement age, I’m running out of chances to see them! Clairemarie Osta is supposed to be retiring at the end of this very season (I didn’t realize she was older than most of the others). I’m sure Gillot is thinking of her future in dance, and work as a choreographer may suit her. It’s an exciting development in any case. I’m happy to have Gillot, Dupont or Letestu come to SF Ballet as a soloist after retiring from the POB. Ha!

  5. Trish Daly says:

    Correction: There were some errors one the original message. Please use this revised version.

    On Your Toes! – A Tour of the FAMSF Textile Conservation Lab

    The Textile Arts Council and Sarah Gates, Head of the FAMSF Textile Conservation Lab, are once again offering an exclusive tour behind-the-scenes to benefit special projects relating to the conservation and storage of the Fine Arts Museums’ textile collection. With the exhibition Rudolf Nureyev: A Life in Dance, opening October 6 at the de Young, the focus of this tour will be theater and dance costume.

    Our collection of theatre and dance costumes present unique challenges to store
    and exhibit. Due to the “temporary” nature of many theatre costumes, their often
    “heavy” use and an unusual use of materials, cleaning and storage can defy the
    process of standard conservation techniques. The over view of the lab’s facilities
    will include a look at everything theatrical, from Pavlova to Loie Fuller and
    RubyKeeler.
    Two dates – choose one: Wednesday, October 17 or Friday, October 19
    Cost is $65 Space is limited, so call TAC soon to make a reservation.
    tac@famsf.org 415 750-3627

  6. Paddy says:

    “Odette”, I just stumbled onto your blog site. What a beautiful visual experience! I can tell that you are truly a cheerleader for SFB. Would ever consider reviewing a YA book on ballet? It’s set Montana in the late 50s and follows a young dancer’s first year.

  7. Alyssa says:

    Hi, “Odette”! I immediately feel in love with this website after reading most of your “ABOUT” page. I am a big fan of ballet…but – unfortunately – I have never seen San Francisco Ballet perform live at all. If I ever got the chance to see them perform live (or if they release something new on DVD, like they did with The Nutcracker and The Little Mermaid)…what do you recommend that I see them in?

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