Happy new year’s, everyone! I hope everyone had a good one – a friend of mine rented a cabin in the mountains of Oregon this year, and a bunch of us took a road trip up there to celebrate the start of a new decade.
It’s always a fun time to look back to the previous year to look at all the things that I experienced in a theater. One of the biggest thrills this year was when I was asked to be a guest on public radio discussing theater in the Bay Area. Also, I had a blast watching and taking photos of rehearsal for the Smuin Ballet. Stuff like that is always a thrill!
Here’s a random list of memorable moments from 2009:
- Sarah Van Patten’s entire season with the San Francisco Ballet: Literally everything she danced last season was absolute perfection and deeply memorable. There was her biggest role, her heartbreaking and unforgettable portrait of the fragile Odette in Swan Lake. Then there was her razor sharp Sanguinic variation in Balanchine’sÂ Four Temperaments, her haunting performance in Morris’ gentle “A Garden” (gently partnered by Ruben Martin Cintas), to the wide-eyed comedic ballerina in Robbins’ The Concert, to the tragic heroine in the dramatic Jardin aux Lilas, to the beautifully feminine lead in Balanchine’s Jewels in “Diamonds”. She showed an impressive versatility as well as an unforgettable stamp in each role. Van Patten’s appeal is not obvious nor in-your-face, but a deeper, quieter one that draws the audience in to observe her more carefully. She embodies her roles fully, to make you believe that she is Odette, or that she is a mannequin in Morris’ A Garden. Her gentle musicality and clear expressive eyes speak volumes. Her Swan Lake will be the one to see this year, as the SF Chronicle called her “by far the most scintillating Odette/Odile”. She is also, rightly, nominated for an Isadora Duncan Dance award for Outstanding Achievement in Performance for her entire season last year.
- Martha Argerich performing the sparkling Ravel piano concerto with the San Francisco Symphony. There is nothing like watching a piano legend as she tossed off phrases with ease, and breathlessly held the audience’s attention at her finger tips in the second movement. I was also caught by surprise when I found myself bewitched by Ligeti’s Requiem, featuring the San Francisco Symphony Chorus.
- Pascal Molat in Robbins’ A Concert. Hilarious.
- Pacific Northwest Ballet’sÂ Romeo Et Juliette by Jean-Christophe Maillot. An amazingly dramatic and suspense-filled production, presenting a classic in a new light thrilling to modern audiences. Carla Korbes was a particular standout as a smart and spunky Juliet. The balcony scene is a touching and funny standout, with a first love dance that embodies young love – the thrill and the awkwardness of it all.
- My friend Nicole’s wedding, where the bride danced a moving solo Polynesian dance for her new husband that brought tears to everyone’s eyes, set in the gorgeous natural backdrop of the island of Hawaii. This is what dance is – embodying emotion when words aren’t enough. Her movements were warm and inviting, and even though I didnâ€™t know the meaning behind her armsâ€™ gestures, it made you want to believe every word she was saying.
Things to look forward to next year:
- Yo Yo Ma as the artist-in-residence with the San Francisco Symphony. I believe all the concerts are sold out.
- John Neumeier’s A Little Mermaid with the San Francisco Ballet, as well as a smattering of world premieres for their 2010 season.
- Jiri Kylian’s Petite Mort with the Smuin Ballet
- In the Heights national tour
Anything you’re looking forward to seeing this year?