Ask 100 people to name a ballet, and most will roll their eyes and say Swan Lake, that ballet with the feathery platter tutus and familiar music. It appeals to a broad audience because the choreography (by Petipa and Ivanov) from 1895 is sublime and the music is spectacular.
As they have in previous years, City Ballet of San Diego presented a solid Tchaikovsky Spectacular at the Spreckels Theatre (Nov. 2-4) and showcased exceptional dancers and excellent orchestra. It’s a program people want to see again and again, to see their favorite dancers and new dancers who make their mark.
The first half of the two-hour program was the best of Swan Lake, excerpts from Act II and Black Swan Pas de Deux.
For the weekend run, Sumire Ito and Ariana Gonzalez alternated as the good and evil Swan Queens Odette and Odile, and partnered with Geoff Gonzalez and Iago Breshi in the role of Prince Siegfried.
As the orchestra tuned up, the excitement grew. When fingers plucked a harp, we were swept into the drama. Prince Siegfried is out hunting by a lake, on a day he’s supposed to choose a wife. He is about to shoot the fluttering Odette, but she explains through bird-like gestures that she can only be saved by a man who swears true love for her. A popular date night show to be sure.
Odette and Siegfried danced the grand Pas de Deux, and we marveled at the fouettes, the ballet maneuver of spinning on one toe like a top. Von Rothbart (Brian Heil) the sorcerer flapped a wonderfully evil set of wings, and the corps of swans, fluttered and chugged with musicality and fine lines. The crossings in unison mirrored the music. There were audible sighs of joy when two handsome Borzoi hounds pranced across the stage. This company continues to add valuable details that add to the fantasy.
For the second half, the company shed the feathers and danced a dozen miniatures set to “The Seasons,” which made for a full evening. Tchai Celebration, by resident choreographer Elizabeth Wistrich, interprets 12 piano pieces. Tchaikovsky was commissioned to write them in 1876 in St. Petersburg. We know them as The Seasons, Opus 37b, and there was a huge variety of dance styles and costuming.
Standouts include Megan Jacobs in May, welcoming a spring, and Lucas Ataide, who danced a memorable solo with a unitard baring one leg.
Stephen Judson’s lighting was simple and effective when shining on panels of fabric. And the orchestra directed by John Nettles has never sounded better.
Bravo to City Ballet for its dedication to fine ballet and live music to enrich the experience. When the dancers stepped forward for bows, they were dressed in their costume of the calendar, a mix of fabrics and styles, and an energized audience applauded with gusto, and in equal measure for the City Ballet Orchestra and soloists, particularly pianist Mark Polesky.
City Ballet’s season continues with twelve performances of The Nutcracker, Dec. 7-23, 2018. Www.cityballet.org.
LOTS MORE DANCE:
Halfway to Dawn, is a dance portrait of jazz great Billy Strayhorn. www.artpower.ucsd.edu/event/david-rousseve-reality-halfway-dawn/ Nov. 9 at Mandeville.
Shadowland by Pilobolus combines legendary modern dance with multi-media, merging front-of-screen choreography with projected images and moving screens to create a narrative with the fluid logic of a dream, powered by the grace of acrobatic dance. Presented by La Jolla Music Society, Dance Series. Nov. 10 at 2 and 8 pm. Prelude Interview hosted by Molly Puryear at 1 and 7 pm. Spreckels Theatre. Www.ljms.org.
Noche Latina, an evening of dance accompanied by a live Cuban band, is Jared Nelson’s interpretation of a fiery “Bolero,” “Carmen,” and the West Coast premiere of Septime Webre’s “Juanita y Alicia.” Nelson is California Ballet’s new artistic director and continues to guide The Company into new territory. Nov. 9 at 7:30 pm; Nov. 10 at 2 and 7:30 pm. Www.californiaballet.org.
Beyond Babel, the hip-hop imagining of “Romeo and Juliet” created by Keone and Mari Madrid and Hideaway Circus has been extended. We covered it at Sandiegostory.com and there are YouTube clips galore. www.beyondbalbelshow.com REVIEW: http://www.sandiegostory.com/24769-2/
Immerse PGK Dance Project performs new choreography by director Peter G. Kalivas, and shares the evening with a guest performance by Wheelchair Dancers. Nov. 10 at 7:30 -pm. Balboa Park Club. Ticket includes first drink at the Balboa Park Club Ballroom.
Did you see the PGK billboards? If you give the troupe a shout out, they’ll send you a code to see the show for $10 instead of $25. Www.thepgkdanceproject.org.
Mixed Sundry II Mojalet Dance Collective presents works by Faith Jensen-Ismay and Blythe Barton Dance. Nov. 30-Dec. 2. Lyceum Space Theatre. www.mojalet.com.
“So You Think You Can Dance,” the touring version of the TV show, showcases the top 10 contestants from Season 15. Dec. 4 at 7:30 pm. Civic Theatre. Www.sandiegotheatres.org.