San Francisco Ballet programme 2, Sadler's Wells, London

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San Francisco Ballet's second programme starts well, sags in the middle, then closes strongly. The dip comes with recent ballets by company personnel. Two Balanchine ballets lift the evening.

San Francisco Ballet's second programme starts well, sags in the middle, then closes strongly. The dip comes with recent ballets by company personnel. Two Balanchine ballets lift the evening.

Balanchine's Ballo della Regina is a showcase for a fast, athletic ballerina. The score is the ballet music Verdi wrote for Don Carlos, with grand entrances and brisk dances. The ballerina is supported by male partner and female corps de ballet - one man to all those women.

As with Square Dance on opening night, the company makes a good impression in Balanchine. The women's legs and feet are springy, strongly articulated. Vanessa Zahorian isn't quite up to the ballerina role. She moves crisply, but lags behind the choreography's fiendish pace. Gonzalo Garcia bounds through his brief solos, looking eager rather than marginalised.

Concerto Grosso, by company director Helgi Tomasson, shows off five male soloists. As the curtain goes up, they walk and gesture to baroque music by Geminiani. This aims for solemn grace, but it's too close to catwalk posing. Tomasson's ballet is a pedestrian arrange-ment of technical challenges: jumps, turns, fast footwork and slow balances. The dancing, though, is bold and clear.

Study in Motion, by company dancer Yuri Possokhov, is harder to sit through. This is a piano ballet of the tempestuous sort. The pianist plays stormy bits of Scriabin, the dancers try to look sensitive. Every duet seems to be a lovers' last farewell, every solo a soul in torment.

The Four Temperaments is a one of Balanchine's greatest ballets, classicism lit up with brilliant jazz. Hindemith's set of variations expresses the medieval idea of human temperaments: Melancholic, Sanguinic, Phlegmatic, Choleric. Themes are picked up, angled, turned round. Classical shapes are given sudden accents, without losing their purity or force. Feet flex and curl down into pointe; high kicks are followed by pelvic thrusts; steps glint with syncopation.

San Francisco Ballet look at home in Balanchine, but the ballerina roles are undercast. Sarah van Patten glares her way through Sanguinic, all eyebrows and not enough musical detail. Muriel Maffre makes a gawky Choleric. The inversions and angles of the choreography look eccentric, not classical. The men are better. Nicolas Blanc flows through the sweeping curves of Melancholic. Yuri Possokhov pushes the jokes of Phlegmatic, but the shapes are still clear. The English Chamber Orchestra makes a clean job of Hindemith's lovely score.

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