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!~~~

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San Francisco Ballet’s 2013 New Dancer Roster-The Press Release (& Apology)

An apology to my loyal readers: In my haste to get the new SFB Dancer Roster link to SFBalletomanes the very second it posted, I didn’t see the official Press Release, which does go into some detail regarding the new dancers and promotions. I will be back with the deets (Odette’s Translation will cover those departing), but here’s SFB’s Press Release, in the meantime:


SAN FRANCISCO, CA, Friday, July 6, 2012–San Francisco Ballet has announced six promotions, as well as the addition of two new soloists, two new corps members, and five new apprentices for the 2013 Repertory Season. Luke Ingham and Shane Wuerthner have joined the Company as soloists. In addition, Marie-Claire D’Lyse and Emily Kadow have joined the corps de ballet, along with former apprentices who have been promoted to the corps de ballet level: Sean Bennett, Megan Amanda Ehrlich, Jillian Harvey, Ellen Rose Hummel, Henry Sidford, and Shion Yuasa. The five new apprentices joining the Company have all trained at the San Francisco Ballet School and include: Lacey Escabar, Lauren Parrott, Alexander Reneff-Olson, Emma Rubinowitz, and Wei Wang



Born in San Francisco, Sean Bennett entered the SF Ballet School in 2000 on a Dance In Schools (DIS) scholarship. He joined the Trainee Program in 2010, after a year at American Ballet Theater’s Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School, and was named a Company apprentice during the 2011 Repertory Season. Megan Amanda Ehrlich, born in Charleston, South Carolina, trained both at the Kirov Academy of Ballet in Washington, D.C., and at the Space Coast Ballet Academy in Melbourne, Florida. She joined the Company as an apprentice during the 2011 Repertory Season. Jillian Harvey was named an apprentice with the Company in April 2012. Prior to this appointment, she was an apprentice with New York City Ballet from 2010-12. Born in Pennsylvania, she began her training at Allegheny Ballet and then at the School of American Ballet. In 2010 she was a recipient of the Mae L. Wien Award for “Outstanding Promise.” Ellen Rose Hummel was born in Greenville, South Carolina, and trained at the SF Ballet School, first during the 2008 Summer Session and then as a Trainee. She entered the Company as an apprentice during the 2011 Repertory Season. Henry Sidford, born in Marblehead, Massachusetts, first began his training with the SF Ballet School during the 2007 Summer Session. A finalist in the 2011 Prix de Lausanne, Sidford joined SF Ballet as an apprentice for the 2011 Repertory Season. Shion Yuasa, from Saitama, Japan, trained at Canada’s School of Alberta Ballet, prior to joining SF Ballet School in 2009 and the Trainee Program in 2010. In 2011, she was named an apprentice with the Company. 


New Company Members

Marie-Claire D’Lyse, a former demi-soloist with Vienna State Opera Ballet, originally hails from Australia. A semi-finalist at the 2000 Prix de Lausanne, D’Lyse began her training in Australia, before studying at the Vienna State Opera Ballet School. Featured roles have included Myrtha in Giselle, the Snow Queen in The Nutcracker, and the Fairy of Beauty in The Sleeping Beauty. A native of Australia, Luke Ingham trained at the Australian Ballet School and then performed with the Australian Ballet from 2004-10, where he was promoted to soloist in 2008. In addition, he performed with Houston Ballet from 2011-12 and with Morphoses/The Wheeldon Company, for the 2010 winter season.  Ingham’s wide range of roles includes Franz in Coppélia, the Prince in The Nutcracker, and Hilarion in Giselle. A native of Pennsylvania, Emily Kadow’s training includes the Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet and Washington D.C.’s Kirov Academy. In 2008, Kadow won a bronze medal at the Youth America Grand Prix. Shane Wuerthner is a graduate of Washington, D.C.’s Kirov Academy and has performed with the Vienna State Opera Ballet, first as a corps de ballet member and since 2009, as a demi-soloist. Wuerthner has performed a number of principal roles with the company including Albrecht in Giselle, Prince Siegfried in Swan Lake and the Prince in The Nutcracker.


New Apprentices

Helgi Tomasson has named five new apprentices for the 2012 season. As apprentices, these dancers will take Company class and perform corps de ballet roles in the Company’s diverse repertory. Lacey Escabar, from Fairfax, California has served as a Trainee at the SF Ballet School for the past two years and has performed in a number of Company productions including Helgi Tomasson’s Giselle and Swan Lake, as well as John Neumeier’s The Little Mermaid. She first entered the School for the 2006 Summer Session. Lauren Parrott hails from Marietta, Georgia, and first entered the SF Ballet School during the 2010 Summer Session, before becoming a Trainee last year.  She has performed in SF Ballet productions such as George Balanchine’s Symphony in C and Coppélia, as well as Tomasson’s Don Quixote. Alexander Reneff-Olson, from San Francisco, first enrolled in the School’s 2008 Summer Session before serving as a Trainee over the last two years. He has performed with SF Ballet in a number of productions including Tomasson/Possokhov’s Don Quixote, John Cranko’s Onegin, and Jerome Robbins’ Glass Pieces. Prior to training at the SF Ballet School, Reneff-Olson studied at City Ballet School. Emma Rubinowitz, from Mill Valley, California, first entered SF Ballet School in summer 2010 and this past year, though in level 8, she studied with the Trainees. She has performed a number of Company productions including Tomasson’s Nutcracker, Tomasson/Possokhov’s Don Quixote, and Balanchine’s Coppélia. Wei Wang hails from Anshan-Liaoning, China and most recently served as a Trainee from 2011-12. He trained at the Beijing Dance Academy and performed with SF Ballet in productions such as Tomasson’s Romeo & Juliet and Tomasson/Possokhov’s Don Quixote

Subscriptions are currently on sale for the 2013 Repertory Season, January 29 through May 12, at the War Memorial Opera House. For information, call the Ticket Services Office at 415.865.2000, or visit

* * * *


Sean Bennett                        Corps de Ballet

Megan Amanda Ehrlich        Corps de Ballet

Jillian Harvey                         Corps de Ballet

Ellen Rose Hummel              Corps de Ballet

Henry Sidford                        Corps de Ballet

Shion Yuasa                           Corps de Ballet


New Company Member/Level

Luke Ingham                         Soloist

Shane Wuerthner                  Soloist

Marie-Claire D’Lyse              Corps de Ballet

Emily Kadow                          Corps de Ballet


New Apprentices/Training

       Lacey Escabar                        SF Ballet School        

Lauren Parrott                       SF Ballet School

Alexander Reneff-Olson       SF Ballet School

Emma Rubinowitz                 SF Ballet School

Wei Wang                              SF Ballet School

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San Francisco Ballet Announces New 2013 Dancer Roster

It’s official; the new San Francisco Ballet 2012-2013 dancer roster has been announced and there are some incoming surprises, as well as some sad news of outgoing favorites. Now that Odette’s lips can officially sink some ships, here’s that all-important link to the new roster that every SFBalletomane (a term Odette coined that has since gone viral with other members of the press and ballet forums, thanks to her many loyal readers) has been looking for:

San Francisco Ballet’s 2012-2013 Dancer Roster 

(Make sure you click into each category^in the gray box to the right, when you get there, for Principals, Soloists, and Corps de Ballet)

With respect to those who want this info the second it becomes official, Odette is now clicking the ‘publish’ button…but will be back in a matter of minutes with her annual Translation of the roster, which she knows many of you look forward to-the blow-by-blow of who’s gone, where they went, promotions, and who’s new. She will also bring you interviews with some of the departing dancers like former SFB Soloist Pauli Magierek and former Corps de Ballet Dancers Matthew Stewart and Daniel Baker.

See you momentarily!


Odette, in her haste to get you the news as it happens, just made a complete oversight of SFB’s official Press Release sitting in her inbox and SFB has given us many details about the new dancers and promotions here.


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San Francisco Ballet Announces Ballet Bliss for Stern Grove 2012 Program, July 29 at 2 p.m.

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Note: This post has been updated on 7/20/12. However, above^ slideshow preview and associated photos below reflect previously announced programming, which has since been changed. This post is still very worthwhile for the video clips of last season’s Stern Grove performances (including Sofiane Sylve’s Isadora Duncan Dance Award winning Symphony in C!), but go here for the newly announced Casting, programming changes, and a brand new slideshow and video clip (sneak peek!) of Myles Thatcher’s Spinae!

San Francisco Ballet’s free annual summer performance, in the idyllic Stern Grove, is an eagerly anticipated occasion for SFBalletomanes. It’s like a tall, cool, and refreshing thirst-quencher in the middle of SFB’s long dry ‘off-season’, its only performance in SF from early May till the distant Nutcracker run.

Sarah Van Patten & Pierre-Francois Vilanoba in Wheeldon’s ‘Within the Golden Hour’ (© Erik Tomasson)

 This year, SFB’s 2012 Stern Grove line-up offers a sampling of some of our favorite company’s finest ballets-and, unsurprisingly, gives the troupe a bit of dress rehearsal for its upcoming London Tour, as well as encoring some recent repertoire hits. Add a dash of ‘Scotch’, a spellbinding new ballet by SFB Corps de Ballet dancer Myles Thatcher (Spinae premiered on the SFB School Trainees & Apprentices earlier this year), and a sprightly ‘Solo’ (albeit for 3 men) and SFB’s Stern Grove program is a mouth-watering menu of flavors to satiate any dance lover’s palate:

Courtney Elizabeth in Balanchine’s ‘Scotch Symphony’ (© Erik Tomasson)

San Francisco Ballet at Stern Grove 2012

Sunday, July 29 at 2 p.m.
Stern Grove, 19th Avenue and
Sloat Boulevard, San Francisco

Balanchine’s Scotch Symphony


Thatcher’s Spinae


van Manen’s SOLO


Wheeldon’s Number Nine* 

*to have its UK premiere at Sadler’s Wells, during the Company’s upcoming London Tour, Sept. 19-23, 2012  

(click link above for Sadler’s Wells’ ^ London programming)

Garen Scribner in van Manen’s ‘Solo’ at SF Ballet Gala 2012 (© Erik Tomasson)

For those of you who haven’t yet experienced a live outdoor performance with some of this planet’s most talented dancers, accompanied by the award-winning San Francisco Ballet Orchestra, amidst dragonflies, in a sylvan grove of redwoods, let Odette explain:  

This is not ‘Ballet Light’. This is ‘Ballet Bliss’. How many of us will never forget last year’s dreamy pas de deux of Sofiane Sylve’s Izzie Award winning Symphony in C performance, with her elegant partner Vito Mazzeo, an adagio every bit as beautiful as anything we have seen on the War Memorial Opera House stage?

Like I said, Ballet Bliss.

Sofiane Sylve and Vito Mazzeo in Balanchine’s Symphony In C (© Erik Tomasson)

(Ballet Bliss)


Tiit Helimets & Yuan Yuan Tan in Tomasson’s ‘7 for Eight’ (© Erik Tomasson)

(Ballet Bliss


Yuan Yuan Tan & Davit Karapetyan in Balanchine’s ‘Scotch Symphony’ (© Erik Tomasson)

(*Ballet Bliss*)


SFB’s 2011 Stern Grove performance featured SFB Corps de Ballet Dancer Myles Thatcher’s Timepiece (with SFB’s Trainees, Apprentices, & company dancers), Tomasson’s 7 for Eight (complete), and Balanchine’s Symphony in C


Myles Thatcher’s Timepiece at Stern Grove 2011


A fan’s 12:40 video clip of SFB’s Symphony in C, with Sofiane Sylve’s Isadora Duncan Dance Award winning performance of the 3rd Movement at 8:01 (a little annoying when he carries her off frame, as the fan didn’t know who to focus on, but there’s plenty to drool over, especially after 11:00)


Words to the wise: Come very early (9:00 will already display a sea of blankets) for the best seating oopportunities, wear warm layers to strip off and carry you from the morning fog to the noonday sun, bring a waterproof tarp to sit on (the grass is wet in the morning), bring sunscreen and your favorite summer picnic fare. Sun hats and sunglasses are a must-and maybe a good juicy summer read and your ipod, if you’re there long before the orchestra starts warming up.


Another fan’s 9:55 clip of SFB’s 2011 Stern Grove performance of Tomasson’s 7 for Eight, beginning with Joan Boada’s’s solo to the end of the ballet


Balanchine’s Symphony in C from on high at SFB’s 2011 Stern Grove performance


  SFB’s 2010 Stern Grove performance featuring Tomasson’s Prism, the daredevil dancing of Vitor Luiz & Lorena Feijoo in Tomasson/Possokhov’s Don Quixote pas de deux (it’s ok to scream at 1:07-everyone there did!), Wheeldon’s iconic and lyrical After the Rain interpreted by the incomparable Yuan Yuan Tan & Damian Smith (1:44), and Morris’ bright green and amusing Sandpaper Ballet 


For the rest of Stern Grove’s 2012 *Free* Summer Concert Series, go here.


See You at the Ballet!


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San Francisco Ballet Fans: RAkU Composer Shinji Eshima and Principal Dancer Pascal Molat to Participate in San Francisco Zen Center’s 50th Anniversary Celebration, ‘A Concert for Peace’, June 4, 2012

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(Enjoy the slideshow above.)

If this sound byte is hauntingly familiar to you, causes your tear ducts to go into overdrive, and you are not of the Buddhist faith, one can safely assume you prescribe to my religion: you are a SFBalletomane. This centuries old Buddhist chant, the ‘Enmei Jukku Kannon Gyo’, roughly translating to “We are here to listen to your suffering and we chant for your well being”, happens to also be an excerpt from Shinji Eshima’s powerful RAkU score-the chanting in the audio clip above provided by monks from the San Francisco Zen Center and accompanied by the San Francisco Ballet Orchestra, conducted by SF Ballet Music Director and Principal Conductor, Martin West. 

Pascal Molat in Possokhov’s RAkU composed by Shinji Eshima; Photo © Erik Tomasson

Shinji Eshima, RAkU’s composer, commissioned by San Francisco Ballet’s Choreographer in Residence, Yuri Possokhov, is a grandson of one of the first female Buddhist monks in the U.S, so it isn’t any wonder that his luscious RAkU score is empowered by the chanting of the San Francisco Zen Center’s monks, who also chanted live from the orchestra pit of the War Memorial Opera House during the 2011 and 2012 performances of his ground-breaking ballet music. 

Composer Shinji Eshima from SFZC’s blog

The Eshima/SF Zen Center bond strengthens tomorrow night when Mr. Eshima will be contributing his considerable talent to the San Francisco Zen Center’s 50th Anniversary event: ‘A Concert for Peace’, an evening of music, dance, and poetry. In addition to mezzo soprano Sally Munro premiering a new piece of Eshima’s, the event will also feature a new Peace Bell created by famed sculptor Al Farrow from bullets and artillery and “played” in a dance performance by none other than Pascal Molat, San Francisco Ballet’s Principal Dancer who danced the role of the ‘Monk’ in RAkU. There also will be Butoh by Judith Kajiwara, and a story dance by Brenda Wong Aoki and her Emmy-award winning husband Mark Izu. Chihiro Fukuda will play the great Bach Chaccone and the concert will conclude with Jose Granero playing the sublime Mozart Clarinet Quintet.

San Francisco Zen Center Monks with composer Shinji Eshima at San Francisco Ballet’s ‘RAkU’ in 2011

Oh…and there will be chanting by the monks of the SF Zen Center.

 For tickets, full programming, and other deets to this event, go here 

All proceeds will benefit the SF Zen Center and her sister temple in Japan, Shinryu-in Temple, damaged by the big tsunami/earthquake.

One of the San Francisco Zen Center’s students, Tova Green, first met Shinji Eshima when she was asked to chant at the San Francisco Ballet’s performances of RAkU and here is her interview with the expressive composer.


SF Ballet in Yuri Possokhov’s RAkU, featuring Yuan Yuan Tan & Damian Smith; music by Shinji Eshima


  San Francisco Ballet Principal Dancer Yuan Yuan Tan on Eshima/Possokhov’s RAkU. Note that Pascal Molat dances the role of the monk beginning at the :40 marker. 


A conversation with RAkU composer Shinji Eshima, double-bassist of the San Francisco Ballet Orchestra for 29 years, on his collaboration with choreographer Yuri Possokhov, courtesy of San Francisco Ballet.

For Odette’s 2011 review and slideshow of the Yuri Possokhov ballet RakU, featuring Shinji Eshima’s score of the same name, go here.

This is a terrific opportunity to enjoy ‘top drawer’ artists of multiple genres, while feeling good about donating to a worthy cause.

Hope to see you there! 

(And for those of you not following me on FaceBook or Twitter, you’re missing all the latest ‘Dancer Doings’! Check the right hand side bar for the latest>>>>>>>>)


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San Francisco Ballet Fans: ‘Eastern Odyssey’, Quinn Wharton’s Documentary of Tiit Helimets and Co’s Estonian Tour, to Screen One Night Only, Monday 4/16/12

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(all photos on this page, unless otherwise noted, by the amazing Quinn Wharton; in the interest of publishing this in a somewhat timely fashion, pardon me once again as WordPress is again having photo captioning and slideshow issues)

Eastern Odyssey, a Balletomane’s Dream Documentary (a *San Francisco Balletomane*, in Particular), to be Shown on the Big Screen at the Vogue Theater Tomorrow Night Only

(Note: This dance film World Premiere event, our probable one time only opportunity to see this ‘doc’ in a theater, is selling fast, so I recommend you go straight here to purchase tickets and then come back to see all these terrific trailers, photos, and above slideshow at your leisure!)



Eastern Odyssey Trailer


Several months ago I made much ado about raising funds for a project dear to my heart: sending San Francisco Ballet’s Corps de Ballet Dancer Quinn Wharton, who moonlights as an extraordinary dance photographer/videographer, to Estonia to film exclusive behind-the-scenes, backstage, rehearsal, and on-the-road-with-the-dancers documentary footage of Tiit Helimets and Co.


Tiit Helimets and Co; Image: Quinn Wharton


When Tiit first asked me for ideas to fund a documentary film project, featuring his own Tiit Helimets and Co, and informed me that Quinn, known for his artistry as a dancer and dance photographer, would be the videographer, I knew I had to help find a way-on behalf of balletomanes everywhere-to make this project happen! So I suggested and created a campaign for the documentary on Kickstarter (here), a site dedicated to raising funds for worthy arts ventures, that also rewards donors with special perks and privileges, and then I rested my writer’s fingers and watched, with some degree of fascination, as Quinn created a gorgeous new Tiit Helimets and Co’s web site  and immediately got to work creating some of the most stunning *fly on the wall* dance video footage and photographs I’ve ever seen. 

The result:

Donors flocked to support the effort and because of peeps like you, the generous support of Deborah DuBowy’s ‘Words on Dance’, which has made tomorrow night’s big screen showing possible, the Vogue Theater, Quinn’s efforts in creating awe-inspiring video teasers to lure us, and the remarkable general collaboration of all concerned, the project was successfully funded, anxious donors are shortly to receive their exclusive DVD’s and other THC perks… 

…and the public now has this fabulous one-time only opportunity to see what could well be an entrant in the next San Francisco Dance Film Festival.


The original Tiit Helimets and Co’s trailer, or what I like to call the ‘Watch as Sarah gets 2 parking tickets in 1 day, Daniel shows us his extraordinary strongman technique, Frances noshes on breakies, Tiit looks for an iphone charger, things start really picking up when the music begins at 1:12, Jim shows some jazzy sass, Nicole & Sasha astonish us with amazing technique, and OH EM GEE check out 1:33 when Tiit tendus in prep for a ronde de jambe à terre, his change mois at 1:50, and his 4 pirouettes at 2:45’ awesome video clip.
The Company
‘The Bratty Bunch’-A Humorous Introduction to Tiit Helimets and Co’s Cast & Crew, otherwise known as the following peeps:


Tiit Helimets and Co-The Estonian Tour
June 17-June 19, 2011

Artistic Director: Tiit Helimets

Ballet Master: Katita Waldo

Featured Choreographer on Tour: Val Caniparoli

Company Photographer/Videographer: Quinn Wharton

Stage Manager: Jane Green

Company Manager: Dan McGarry

The Dancers:


Frances ChungPrincipal Dancer with San Francisco Ballet 

Nicole CiapponiCorps de Ballet with San Francisco Ballet

Daniel Deivison-OliveiraSoloist with San Francisco Ballet

Sasha De SolaCorps de Ballet with San Francisco Ballet

Joshua Reynolds, former Corps de Ballet with Milwaukee Ballet, newly with Smuin Ballet 

Tiit HelimetsArtistic Director of Tiit Helimets and Co, Principal Dancer with San Francisco Ballet

Julianne Kepley1 of Dance Magazine’s ’25 to Watch’ for 2011, Former Principal Dancer with Milwaukee Ballet and San Francisco Ballet, she now performs, teaches, and trains; I highly recommend you click on her link, which takes you to her brand new web site loaded with gorgeous photos & video clips 

Jeremy Kovitch, Soloist with Ballet San Jose

Alexsandra MeijerPrincipal Dancer with Ballet San Jose

James SofrankoSoloist with San Francisco Ballet

Sarah Van PattenPrincipal Dancer with San Francisco Ballet


The above bio links are current as of 4/15/12 

For the company’s Estonian Tour programming and casting, the following link will take you to the original post, where the old SFB web site’s bio links are no longer active:

Casting and Program



 The Rehearsals














The Opera House in Tallinn; Photo: Quinn Wharton




The U.S. Embassy

The U.S. Embassy visit in Estonia to honor THC, where the aforementioned ‘Bratty Bunch’ were at their elegant best
 The Performance
The Photo Shoots
As usual, we can always count on Quinn to make the most out of every opportunity to try out new photographic techniques. The following is a small sampling of the results; I will feature more photos from these Eastern Odyssey shoots in a post dedicated just for that purpose.
The Love Story
Sometimes it happens, when we’re least expecting it. Some of you may be wondering why Joshua Reynolds is no longer at Milwaukee Ballet…or maybe you are wondering why he seems to have relocated to the SF Bay Area.
La la la…
Well, it seems that Tiit Helimets is a bit of a ‘Cupid’. Not only is he responsible for creating an artistic bond with the dancers of his company, he is also responsible for bringing two of these artists together in romance.
La la la…
Meet Sasha De Sola and the dancer who found her irresistable, her adoring fiancé Joshua Reynolds, happily posing near their new SF Bay Area home together (in photos not shot by Quinn Wharton):
and their children ‘Sadie’ & baby ‘Tilly’ (ears choreographed by Josh & Sasha):
 So many blondes…
If all of this eye candy doesn’t prompt you to get your tickets immediately here, this ought to do it:

Quinn calls this video ‘Powerful Stuff’ and I think you will too.
There will be a post-performance Q&A with Tiit Helimets (Artistic Director), Quinn Wharton (filmmaker), Katita Waldo (ballet mistress), and the other artists; what more could we want? Perhaps a post-party at a private residence with the artists? For a few dollars more, you can have that too!
See you at the Vogue tomorrow night!!!


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San Francisco Ballet Announces Stunning 2013 Repertory Season

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(Enjoy the slideshow preview of SFB’s 2013 Season above)



Costumes & Set Designs for Wheeldon's 'Cinderella'; Photo © Erik Tomasson


SAN FRANCISCO, Tuesday, April 10, 2012—San Francisco Ballet, the oldest professional ballet company in America, has announced the repertory and performance schedule for its 80th Repertory Season. SF Ballet’s 2013 Repertory Season will include the U.S. premiere of Christopher Wheeldon’s full-length Cinderella; the Northern California premiere of Nijinsky by Hamburg Ballet Artistic Director and Chief Choreographer John Neumeier, which will be performed on Program 2 by the renowned Hamburg Ballet; the SF Ballet premiere of Serge Lifar’s Suite en Blanc; plus world premieres by Wayne McGregor, SF Ballet Choreographer in Residence Yuri Possokhov, and Alexei Ratmansky. The season will also feature works by acclaimed choreographers such as George Balanchine, John Cranko, Edwaard Liang, Mark Morris, Rudolf Nureyev, Ashley Page, Jerome Robbins, and San Francisco Ballet Artistic Director & Principal Choreographer Helgi Tomasson.

Otto Bubenícek & Ivan Urban in Neumeier's 'Nijinsky'

English National Ballet in Lifar's 'Suite en Blanc'


The 2013 Repertory Season will begin with Nutcracker, which runs December 7 through 28, 2012 for a total of 31 performances. Following the Opening Night Gala on Thursday, January 24, 2013, the season will consist of eight programs performed in alternating repertory, from January 29 to May 12.

Alexandre Riabko, Anna Polikarpova, & Otto Bubenicek in Neumeier's 'Nijinski'


 “I’ve enjoyed a long and fruitful relationship with John Neumeier that dates back to my career as a dancer. This season we are thrilled to host Hamburg Ballet as they present Neumeier’s highly acclaimed and dramatic Nijinsky, on the second program of our repertory season,” said Tomasson. “We are also delighted to perform the American premiere of Christopher Wheeldon’s full-length Cinderella, which promises to be a real treat for our local audiences. I am also pleased that some of the world’s best choreographers will create new works for the Company.”


2013 Repertory Season Overview

Paris Opera Ballet in Lifar's 'Suite en Blanc'


Program 1 opens Tuesday, January 29 with the SF Ballet premiere of Lifar’s Suite en Blanc, Robbins’ In the Night, and a new work by Wayne McGregor. Suite en Blanc is an internationally acclaimed neoclassical work set to music by Édouard Lalo and originally choreographed for the Paris Opera Ballet in 1943. The plotless, one-act ballet was created as a vehicle to show off the virtuosity of its dancers and was called “a clever, intriguing and intricately patterned work” by the London Evening Standard.  Robbins’ elegant In the Night, set to music by Frédéric Chopin and created for New York City Ballet in 1970, features six dancers, and was last performed by the Company in 2008 during its 75th Anniversary Repertory Season. McGregor, choreographer and artistic director of Wayne McGregor | Random Dance and resident choreographer at The Royal Ballet, is creating his first commission for SF Ballet. The Company has previously performed two of his works: Eden/Eden and Chroma. McGregor is renowned for his physically challenging and unique choreography and ground-breaking collaborations across dance, film, music, visual art, technology, and science.


Paris Opera Ballet in Lifar's 'Suite en Blanc'

Paris Opera Ballet in Lifar's 'Suite en Blanc'

Lorena Feijoo & Pierre-Francois Vilanoba in Robbins’ ‘In the Night’^

Ruben Martin Cintas & Yuan Yuan Tan in Robbins' 'In the Night'


Program 2 opens Wednesday, February 13 with the Northern California premiere of Neumeier’s Nijinsky, performed by acclaimed company Hamburg Ballet. Nijinsky is a story ballet based on the turbulent life of dancer Vaslav Nijinsky, the great Polish-Russian dancer and star of the Ballet Russes. Set to the music of Chopin, Robert Schumann, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, and Dmitri Shostakovich, the work was hailed as “dynamic, rich and gripping theater” by The Washington Post. Nijinsky was created in 2000 to mark the 50th anniversary of his death and features scenic and costume designs by Neumeier (based partly on original sketches by Léon Bakst and Alexandre Benois). Of the work, The New York Times noted, “Nijinsky…is the subject of more than one ballet…but none has the vision, passion and detail that Neumeier has poured into [this] two-act dramatic spectacular.” Hamburg Ballet, under the artistic direction of Neumeier since 1973, is also known as the Hamburg State Opera Ballet. Established in 1678 as the Hamburg Goosemarket Opera, it was one of the first examples of German civic opera and regularly offered ballet performances. Today, the company enjoys international acclaim, with a roster of over 50 dancers. Most recently, SF Ballet collaborated with Neumeier on the presentation of his production of The Little Mermaid, which made its national broadcast debut on PBS in 2o11.

Otto Bubenicik & Ivan Urban in Neumeier's 'Nijinsky'

Alexandre Riabko & Kiran West in Neumeier’s ‘Nijinsky’^

Hamburg Ballett in Neumeier's 'Nijinski'

Otto Bubenicek & Anna Polikarpova in Neumeier’s ‘Nijinsky’^ 


Joëlle Boulogne & Otto Bubenicek in Neumeier's 'Nijinsky'


Program 3 opens Tuesday, February 26 with Morris’ Beaux, a work to be announced, and Page’s Guide to Strange Places.  Morris’ eighth commissioned work for SF Ballet, Beaux, had its premiere during the 2012 Repertory Season and is set to Bohuslav Martinù’s Concerto for Harpsichord and Small Orchestra. Of the work, which features nine men, the San Francisco Chronicle noted, “Beaux shows Morris once again as master craftsman.” Page’s Guide to Strange Places, which premiered on the Company’s 2012 Repertory Season, is set to a score of the same name by John Adams. Featuring scenic and costume design by Jon Morrell with lighting design by David Finn, the work for 18 dancers mixes ballet and contemporary dance movement.


San Francisco Ballet in Morris' 'Beaux'; Photo © Erik Tomasson

Ruben Martin Cintas & Vito Mazzeo in Morris’ ‘Beaux’; Photo © Erik Tomasson^

Vito Mazzeo in Morris' 'Beaux'; Photo © Erik Tomasson

Vanessa Zahorian & Jaime Garcia Castilla in Page’s ‘Guide to Strange Places’^; Photo © Erik Tomasson
Maria Kochetkova & Gennadi Nedvigin in Page’s ‘Guide to Strange Places’; Photo © Erik Tomasson

Pascal Molat & Frances Chung in Page’s ‘Guide to Strange Places’^; Photo © Erik Tomasson


 Program 4 opens on Friday, March 1 with Balanchine’s Scotch Symphony, a new work by Ratmansky, and Wheeldon’s Within the Golden Hour. Balanchine’s Scotch Symphony will be  performed by SF Ballet during its 2012 Repertory Season. Set to Felix Mendelssohn’s score by the same name, the ballet for 19 dancers was first performed by New York City Ballet in 1952, and received its SF Ballet premiere in 1966. Ratmansky, former artistic director of the Bolshoi Ballet and current artist in residence at American Ballet Theatre, will create a work for SF Ballet. To date, the Company has performed two of his ballets: Le Carnaval des Animaux (Carnival of the Animals) and Russian Seasons. In addition, he has created works for many companies including Dutch National Ballet, Kirov Ballet, New York City Ballet, the Royal Danish Ballet, and the Metropolitan Opera. Last performed while on tour in 2010, Wheeldon’s Within the Golden Hour is set to a strings-only score by Italian composer Ezio Bosso, and features an ensemble of 10 dancers; it was first performed by the Company during its New Works Festival in 2008, where The Guardian (UK) called it “[a] mastery of structure.”  

Courtney Elizabeth in Balanchine's 'Scotch Symphony'; Choreography by George Balanchine © The George Balanchine Trust; Photo © Erik Tomasson

San Francisco Ballet in Balanchine’s ‘Scotch Symphony’^; Choreography by George Balanchine © The George Balanchine Trust; Photo © Erik Tomasson


 Yuan Yuan Tan & Davit Karapetyan in Balanchine’s ‘Scotch Symphony’^; Choreography by George Balanchine © The George Balanchine Trust; Photo © Erik Tomasson

Maria Kochetkova & Joan Boada^ in Wheeldon’s ‘Within the Golden Hour’; Photo © Erik Tomasson

Sarah Van Patten & Pierre Francois-Vilanoba^ in Wheeldon’s ‘Within the Golden Hour’; Photo © Erik Tomasson

San Francisco Ballet in Wheeldon’s ‘Within the Golden Hour’; Photo © Erik Tomasson

Program 5 opens on Thursday, March 21 with the return of Cranko’s dramatic story ballet Onegin. Based on Alexander Pushkin’s novel Eugene Onegin, the full-length work is set to a score by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky orchestrated by Kurt-Heinze Stolze, with scenery and costumes by award-winning designer Santo Loquasto. The work, first performed by Stuttgart Ballet in 1965, is considered one of Cranko’s masterpieces and has been performed by more than 20 companies around the world. SF Ballet performed Onegin to much acclaim during its 2012 Repertory Season. The San Francisco Chronicle hailed this production as “remarkably imaginative…Cranko’s masterpiece still has the power to transport and astonish.”

Vanessa Zahorian & Damian Smith in publicity still^ for Cranko’s ‘Onegin’; Photo© Erik Tomasson

Maria Kochetkova in Cranko's 'Onegin'; Photo © Erik Tomasson

Clara Blanco & Gennadi Nedvigin in Cranko's 'Onegin'; Photo © Erik Tomasson

Maria Kochetkova & Vitor Luiz in Cranko’s ‘Onegin’^; Photo © Erik Tomasson

Maria Kochetkova & Pascal Molat in Cranko’s ‘Onegin’^; Photo © Erik Tomasson

 Yuan Yuan Tan & Ruben Martin Cintas in Cranko’s ‘Onegin’^; Photo © Erik Tomasson


Program 6 opens on Tuesday, April 9 with Nureyev’s Raymonda Act III, a new work by Possokhov, and Liang’s Symphonic Dances. Petipa’s full-length production of Raymonda premiered at the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, Russia, in 1898. Nureyev not only created his own adaption of the full-length version but also of the third act alone, which was premiered by The Royal Ballet at London’s Royal Opera House in 1966. Set to music by Alexander Glazunov, the ballet is a showcase of virtuosic dancing. Possokhov was appointed SF Ballet choreographer in residence, following an illustrious 12-year career with the Company as a principal dancer. Possokhov is a prolific choreographer who’s most recent work, Francesca da Rimini, premiered during the 2012 Repertory Season. Liang’s Symphonic Dances, set to a score of the same name by Sergei Rachmaninov, was called “a brushfire of a work” by the California Literary Review. The work, which premiered on the 2012 Repertory Season, features costume design by Mark Zappone and lighting design by Jack Mehler.

Sofiane Sylve in Nureyev's 'Raymonda Act III'; Photo © Erik Tomasson

 Tiit Helimets & Sofiane Sylve in Nureyev’s ‘Raymonda Act III’; Photo © Erik Tomasson 

San Francisco Ballet in Nureyev's 'Raymonda Act III'; Photo © Erik Tomasson

Maria Kochetkova & Vitor Luiz in Liang’s ‘Symphonic Dances; Photo © Erik Tomasson 

Sofiane Sylve & Tiit Helimets in Liang's 'Symphonic Dances'; Photo © Erik Tomasson

 Sofiane Sylve & Tiit Helimets in Liang’s ‘Symphonic Dances’^; Photo © Erik Tomasson


Program 7 opens Thursday, April 11 with Tomasson’s Criss-Cross, Possokhov’s Francesca da Rimini, and Balanchine’s Symphony in Three Movements. Tomasson’s Criss-Cross premiered in 1997 and was last performed by SF Ballet in 1999. Set to the music by Domenico Scarlatti (as arranged by Charles Avison) and Arnold Schoenberg (after George Frideric Handel), the work is divided into two distinct parts, performed by two different groups and set to two different scores. David Littlejohn, writing in The Wall Street Journal in 1997, said of Criss-Cross, “The company’s conjoined mastery of both classical and modern dance has never been more powerfully displayed.” Possokhov’s Francesca da Rimini is set to music by Tchaikovsky and is based on “The Inferno,” the fifth canto in Dante Alighieri’s The Divine Comedy. In particular, it tells the story of Francesca and Paolo, adulterous lovers who are destined to spend an eternity in hell. The work had its premiere on Program 3 of the 2012 Repertory Season. Balanchine’s Symphony in Three Movements premiered in 1972 on the opening night of New York City Ballet’s Stravinsky Festival. Set to Igor Stravinsky’s score of the same title and first performed by SF Ballet in 2000, the iconic work is a large ensemble piece (Tomasson was part of the original cast).

Joanna Berman & Yuri Possokhov in Tomasson's 'Criss-Cross'; Photo © Marty Sohl

Maria Kochetkova & Joan Boada in Possokhov’s ‘Francesca da Rimini’^;  Photo © Erik Tomasson

San Francisco Ballet in Possokhov’s ‘Francesca da Rimini’^;  Photo © Erik Tomasson

Maria Kochetkova & Joan Boada in Possokhov’s ‘Francesca da Rimini’^;  Photo © Erik Tomasson


 Program 8 opens Friday, May 3 with the U.S. premiere of Christopher Wheeldon’s Cinderella. SF Ballet and the Dutch National Ballet will co-produce this new creation; Dutch National Ballet will present the world premiere in December 2012 at The Amsterdam Music Theatre. Set to the music of Sergei Prokofiev, Wheeldon’s interpretation combines parts of both the Charles Perrault and Brothers Grimm versions, along with some new elements. In this adaption, Cinderella plants a hazel branch on her mother’s grave, and it grows into an enormous magical tree. Along with four spirits, the tree grants all of Cinderella’s wishes. Wheeldon gives depth to the story’s characters by portraying Cinderella as more than a victim; the prince plays a bigger role than in other productions. The libretto will be written by Craig Lucas, a renowned playwright, director, and screenwriter who began his career as an actor. Among other awards, Lucas was nominated for Broadway’s 1990 Tony Award as author of Best Play nominee Prelude to a Kiss (in 1991 he was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize for Drama for the work) and again in 2005 for the book Light in the Piazza. Sets and costumes for this production are by the British designer Julian Crouch, renowned for his designs for Philip Glass’s masterpiece Satyagraha for the Metropolitan Opera in New York and the Broadway musical The Addams Family, among other works. For the latter production, he received a Drama Desk Award. Locally, Crouch served as associate director/designer for Shockheaded Peter, which was performed at San Francisco’s American Conservatory Theater in 2000. Cinderella is his first ballet production.

Julian Crouch's 'Bird Servant' costume design for Wheeldon's 2013 'Cinderella'


 During the 2013 Repertory Season, the Company will perform a total of 60 non-subscription performances. Tuesday and Thursday through Saturday evening performances are at 8pm; Wednesday evening performances are at 7:30pm; Saturday and Sunday matinees are at 2pm. The SF Ballet Orchestra will accompany all programs.

With Special Thanks

SF Ballet gratefully acknowledges the generous support of its New Productions Fund donors: Lead Sponsor Mrs. Jeannik Méquet Littlefield; Major Sponors Rudolf Nureyev Dance Foundation and Larry and Joyce Stupski; and Sponsors Suzy Kellems Dominik and Stephanie and Mory Ejabat. SF Ballet would like to thank the Rudolf Nureyev Dance Foundation for its leadership role in launching the New Productions Fund.

Koret Foundation is the 2013 Story Ballet Sponsor.

American Airlines is the Preferred Airline of San Francisco Ballet.

William Hill ® Estate Winery and La Marca™ Prosecco are the featured wine and sparkling wine of San Francisco Ballet.

“Meet the Artist” Interviews and “Pointes of View” Lecture Series

SF Ballet will continue to present the entertaining and informative “Meet the Artist” series, held in conjunction with the opening night of each program, as well as all Friday evening and Sunday matinee performances. The 30-minute interviews with Company artists, management, and guests of SF Ballet begin one hour prior to performance, and all ticket holders are invited to attend free of charge. In addition, SF Ballet will present eight “Pointes of View” lectures on select Wednesday evenings during the season. Each lecture will focus on the program to be performed that evening and is free and open to the public. For more information, visit and

 Subscription Tickets

Three, five, and eight program subscription packages to SF Ballet’s 2013 Repertory Season range in price from $67–775 (box seat prices available upon request), and are on sale to the public June 4, 2012. Current 2012 season subscribers can renew now. For information, please call Ticket Services at 415.865.200o or visit Phone hours are Monday through Friday, 10am to 4pm. 

Single Tickets

Individual tickets for SF Ballet’s 2013 Repertory Season, starting at $20, will be available for advance sale online at beginning Wednesday, November 14, 2012 or by calling 415.865.2000, beginning Wednesday, January 2, 2013.

San Francisco Ballet

As America’s oldest professional ballet company, San Francisco Ballet has enjoyed a long and rich tradition of artistic “firsts” since its founding in 1933, including performing the first American productions of Swan Lake and Nutcracker, as well as the first 20th-century American Coppélia. San Francisco Ballet is one of the three largest ballet companies in the United States. Guided in its early years by American dance pioneers and brothers Lew, Willam and Harold Christensen, San Francisco Ballet currently presents more than 100 performances annually, both locally and internationally. Under the direction of Helgi Tomasson for more than two decades, the Company has achieved an international reputation as one of the preeminent ballet companies in the world. In 2005, San Francisco Ballet won the prestigious Laurence Olivier Award in the category of “Outstanding Achievement in Dance” and in 2006, it was the first non-European company elected “Company of the Year” in Dance Europe magazine’s annual readers’ poll. In 2008, the Company marked its 75thanniversary with a host of initiatives including an ambitious New Works Festival. Recent highlights include a tour to the People’s Republic of China, the celebration of Artistic Director & Principal Choreographer Helgi Tomasson’s 25th anniversary with the Company, and the United States premiere of John Neumeier’s The Little Mermaid, which was broadcast internationally, as well as nationally on PBS’s Great Performances “Dance in America” in December 2011. 

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