San Francisco Ballet, Hotel de Rohan, Paris
Dancin' in the rain. It might have been a glorious feeling
Sunday 10 July 2005
But the dancers of San Francisco Ballet appeared undaunted (they had a covered stage, at least), determined to justify the organisers' contentious choice of an American company over a French one. In fact, global politics aside, SFB is a perfect match for Paris since America's oldest company is also its most stylish. And how typical of it to open its residency not with a three-act crowd pleaser but with three world premieres. It's this ability to cook up commissions from the likes of Paul Taylor, Lar Lubovitch and Christopher Wheeldon that makes SFB the envy of the ballet world.
Paul Taylor's Spring Rounds suffered worst from the wintry conditions. This was vintage Taylor in the bucolic mode that recalls the golden lads and girls of Shakespeare's sonnet. Circle dances, square dances, couples making arches for others to dance through, bodies breasting imagined rays of sun, make for a buoyant display of youthful ardour that looked suddenly rather desperate, like someone holding a smile too long. Made to a recorded arrangement of 17th-century music, the girls in lace-up bodices, everything was matched to its surroundings - except the weather.
In Elemental Brubeck, Lar Lubovitch strays into 1950s jazz territory. The male solo that tops and tails the piece, fizzingly danced by Gonzalo Garcia, might have stepped off Broadway with its wriggles and strides. Jazzed-up ballet in other hands can drag behind the beat, but Lubovitch finds a freedom in the form that is genuinely uplifting, if ultimately slight.
For challenge, all eyes were on Christopher Wheeldon, the British choreographer everyone wants a piece of these days. Quaternary is his comment on the four seasons set to four unrelated scores by John Cage, J S Bach, Arvo Part, and a Hendrix-like electric guitar number by Steven Mackay that was ostensibly "Autumn" but one couldn't guess why. Despite moments of luminous invention - particularly a duet for Damian Smith and Yuan Yuan Tan, for my money the most mesmerising ballerina in the world - the overall impression was rather baffling. Yet there was enough to call for a second viewing on a dry night.
To 23 July, www.francebillet.com
BBC Trust agrees to axe channel from TV in favour of digital moveTV
FestivalsFive ways to avoid the portable toilets
Jurassic WorldThe results are completely brilliant
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Tunisia hotel attack: Locals form 'human shield' to protect hotel from gunman Seifeddine Rezgui
- 2 Russian officials ban yoga because it's too much like a religious cult
- 3 German ethics council calls for incest between siblings to be legalised by Government
- 4 Ginger Pride festival to take place next summer, organisers say 'time of bullying gingers is over'
- 5 Facebook rainbow profile pictures likely being tracked by social network
Glastonbury 2015: The best bits you missed from Lionel Richie and the Dalai Lama to The Libertines' secret set
Glastonbury 2015: The picture of a man crowd surfing in a wheelchair is brilliant, but it wasn't taken at Glastonbury
Fifty Shades of Grey author EL James' Twitter Q&A didn't exactly go as planned
Guillaume Tell gang-rape scene causes uproar at the Royal Opera House
Glastonbury 2015: Shocking scenes of rubbish left strewn across campsite as clean-up begins
The moment a Queen's Guard soldier lost it and drew his gun at annoying tourist
Greece crisis: IMF was pushed around by Angela Merkel and Nicholas Sarkozy – and now it is being humiliated
Greece crisis: The wider lesson is that it’s time to abandon this failed experiment in currencies
'I wish the BBC would stop calling it Islamic State' – David Cameron unleashes frustration at broadcaster
Pentagon accuses Russia of 'playing with fire' over nuclear threats towards Nato
They are neither a 'state' nor 'Islamic': Why we shouldn't call them Isis, Isil or IS