Fiery Rhythm from Sol Flamenco

Marin Onstage & Sol Flamenco
For tickets / schedule :
For more about Sol Flamenco:
Belrose Theatre, San Rafael

RUN: September 9-10, 2016
RATING: 5 of 5 stars

(September 9, 2016)

Sol Flamenco Santa Rosa at the Belrose

Sol Flamenco opens with explosive palmas fuertes filling the intimate Belrose Theatre with exhilarating sound. Mark Taylor’s intricate toque skims the guitar in mesmerizing speed, interwoven with heart-felt, but not overpowering cante by El Moreno. The ensemble has cheerful, festive atmosphere with a good-humored sense of fun. The cozy velvet-draped theatre with tiny tables is the perfect setting for flamenco, which is often performed in cafés and bars throughout Spain.

A soulful, vibrant style of dance, flamenco comes out of the gypsy tradition when several cultures found themselves joined together taking mutual refuge. It gradually evolved into a performance art, when it solidified into the form we are familiar with today. Sol Flamenco is based in Santa Rosa, and was first invited to the Belrose last year to a delighted audience.

Sol Flamenco Santa Rosa at the Belrose

The evening’s program was varied, from the emotional longing of Soleá de Alcalá, to an electrifying flurry of footwork in Bulería fin de fiesta. I am partial toward Alegrías, since it was my favorite to perform, and Aldo Ruiz created a fast tempo lyrical performance with poise and elegance. Starting in traditional silence, Joelle Gonçalves’ Tangos de Malaga transitioned from haunting to playful and energetic. Her floreo is stunning—her fingers nimbly shift in flowering hand movements, flowing like water. Equally impressive, her feet strike precise sounds in clean rhythm across the floor.

Sol Flamenco is an electrifying evening of phenomenal music and dance that will carry you into a world of passion that is unique to flamenco.

Sonoma State University Spring Dance Concert

Review of Spring Dance Concert
Directed by Kristen Daley, Christine Cali
Sonoma State University Department of Theatre Arts & Dance
Evert. B Person Theatre

RUN: April 1-7, 2016
RATING: 4 of 5 stars

April 1, 2016

Sonoma State University dance instructors came together to address difficult social justice concerns such as gun violence in this provocative concert where collaboration is emphasized both between instructors and students and in the US-Korean collaborative piece HERE.

Photo by David Papas

Photo by David Papas

In the Absence
5 of 5 Stars
Music by Jesse Olsen Bay
Choreographed by Kristen Daley in collaboration with the dancers

Opening with an atmospheric fog horn that builds into rhythmic echoes, the dancers are unified in angular lines, twitching in lonely sharp movement. This evocative piece is garbed in primitive sack cloth designed by Ashley Williams, using the floor as an equal space and heavily influenced by Martha Graham with a contracting core and powerful extensions. The mood wanders in a terrifying world, perhaps reflecting human trafficking, but there was no background to the piece to make the social commentary clear. This is the strongest dance of the evening, I would highly recommend attending simply to see it.

5 of 5 Stars
Music “You and the Space Between” by Brandan Wolcott and Emil Abramyan
Choreographed by Eric Handman

Lyrical punctuated by pauses and slow motion, Modus demonstrates a loss of control, reaching and curling, transfixed and oblivious to the outside world. Dancers interact with pushing, almost combative postures. Martha J. Clarke’s costume design is casual everyday clothes in subdued jewel and earth colors. The stage itself is stripped bare, fully showing the wings and lighting rig. While visually dark, the choreography is hopeful, and concludes with a beautiful pas de deux of mimicking and exploration in contemplation.

3 of 5 Stars
Music by Aaron Gold
Choreography by Jennifer Meek in collaboration with dancers

A commentary on gun violence in youth culture, Cease suffers from being too literal and heavy handed with the subject matter. Lighting flashes simulate gunfire, searchlights are reminiscent of West Side Story, and bodies are bathed in a wash of blood lighting. Projections give death statistics and a dynamic poem by Cristoval Barajas-Madriz AKA Crigga Small Town Cemetery. Dancers run back and forth, clutching at wounds and climbing over each other in linear based blocking. Slower group steps are juxtaposed with punctuated twisting soloists in arranged anarchy. Diana Banas’ costumes are black combat suits with slashes of red patches in geometric designs. While it is visually stimulating, the message is lost by being blatant and demanding on the audience.

Photo by David Papas

Photo by David Papas

3 of 5 Stars
Music by Matt Langlois / Matt EL
Musicians: Matt Langlois, Adam Rossi, Mike Stevens, Guenevere Q
Choreographed by Christine Cali and Kyoungil Ong in collaboration with the dancers

Christine Cali spent a two-year residency in South Korea, and HERE was designed to share that experience in a manner the director describes as “visceral and emotional”, which is an apt characterization. At its core, HERE is a raw exploration of human emotion in all its neurotic glory. Thanks to brilliant live music from the Matt EL musicians, and using vocal elements such as breath and speaking on stage, there is a unique layer underneath the piece. Unfortunately, the choreography itself is mostly classic contemporary and predictable. The dancers were not putting much energy into it, perhaps due to fatigue; the result clashed with the music, which frequently overpowered the movement.

Photo by David Papas

Photo by David Papas

Isolated sections are profound, such as the physicality of the opening, and sensory anxiety portrayed in fluttering movement, but the overall piece was trying to do too much at once. Multiple tones and types of dance are stuffed together without a unifying thread. It cried out for more editing passes; there are at least three different dances in here, and as a result they all suffered. The focus needed to be narrowed down and expanded from there, rather than jumping around with abrupt transitions or relying on gimmicks.

The caliber of dance continues to be inspiring, especially in the first half of this production. While there is room for improvement, the deep issues being addressed in the Spring Dance Concert invoke the sense of responsibility we have to discuss them. Physical visuals are powerful tools for social justice, wielded with skill at SSU.

San Francisco Ballet ‘Program 2’

Review of Program 2
For full program notes, tickets, and schedule : San Francisco Ballet
War Memorial Opera House, San Francisco, CA

RUN: January 27 – February 6, 2016
RATING: 5 of 5 stars

(January 31, 2:00pm, 2016)

Mathilde Froustey and Davit Karapetyan in Balanchine's "Rubies". (© Erik Tomasson)

Mathilde Froustey and Davit Karapetyan in Balanchine’s “Rubies”.
(© Erik Tomasson)

Choreographed by George Balanchine
Composed by Igor Stravinsky

Rubies sparks with energy at San Francisco Ballet; rather than using it as a show-off of extensions, the dancers create a powerhouse piece of dynamic lines interspersed with playful capers. Karinska’s timeless costume designs glimmer, accentuating the richness of movement. Supported by Stravinsky’s syncopated piano and strings entwining with each other, this ballet’s exacting rhythm traces confidently across the stage. I have seen Jewels many times, and do not tire of the second segment—it continues to inspire and delight.

San Francisco Ballet in Morris' Drunk To Me With Only Thine Eyes.. (© Erik Tomasson)

San Francisco Ballet in Morris’ Drink To Me With Only Thine Eyes..
(© Erik Tomasson)

Drink to Me Only With Thine Eyes
Choreographed by Mark Morris
Composed by Virgil Thomson

A casual piece, Drink to Me Only With Thine Eyes is rather like what dancers fool around with in the studio when no-one is watching. Shifting with waves in the music, it changes between shuffling marking, warmup, and explosions of virtuosity. Santo Loquasto’s costume designs reflect a formalized version of practice studio attire, perhaps influenced by the music, which is 13 piano etudes. Pianist Natal’ya Feygina was mesmeric, building the melody into delicate longing in the finale. Gennadi Nedvigin is magnificent in this piece, languidly making his way across the stage with lyrical pirouettes. Vanessa Zahorian nimbly took to the stage with her characteristic bright cheerfulness. Comfortable and beautiful, Drink to Me Only With Thine Eyes is musical and spontaneous.

Lorena Feijoo and Luke Ingham in Scarlett's Fearful Symmetries. (© Erik Tomasson)

Lorena Feijoo and Luke Ingham in Scarlett’s Fearful Symmetries.
(© Erik Tomasson)

Fearful Symmetries (World Premiere)
Choreographed by Liam Scarlett
Composed by John Adams

Light and shadow drive Fearful Symmetries in constantly fluctuating darkness, from hovering twilight gray to chiaroscuro black. Geometric shapes suspend over the dancers, winking on and off. David Finn’s lighting design is spectacular, reflecting the altering emotion of music and movement. Jon Morrell’s costume designs demonstrate the individuality of each dancer through shades and necklines, yet is cohesive and perfectly tailored to augment placement. Fearful Symmetries radiates vitality, with techno overtones and precise motion, interspersed with sinuous intimate moments. It was described as primal by Tina LeBlanc in the Meet the Artist interview, which captures the grounded sensuality of the piece.

Do not miss San Francisco Ballet’s Program 2—it is a luscious buffet of exhilarating dance with an astounding world premiere by Royal Ballet’s Liam Scarlett. The program is a technical and artistic masterpiece.

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