Author: Aimee Tsao

Aimée Ts'ao, a San Francisco dance writer, has appeared in Dance Magazine, was dance critic for the Bay Area Reporter and was the senior ballet editor for the Dance Insider Online. She lets her previous incarnation as a professional dancer (ballet and modern) imbue her perspective and hopes you like the resulting flavour.

Under are the articles written for DanceTabs.
Jane Rehm and Jonathan Dummar in Petal by Helen Pickett.© Keith Sutter. (Click image for larger version)

Smuin Ballet – Chants d’Auvergne, Petal, Jazzin’ – San Francisco

The Smuin Ballet’s current season, Spring Bouquet, has one remarkable flower at its center. The ballet’s title, Petal, hardly does it justice in this metaphor since the work is far beyond the sum of its botanical parts.

San Francisco Ballet in Wheeldon's Cinderella.© Erik Tomasson. (Click image for larger version)

San Francisco Ballet – Cinderella (another look with different casts) – San Francisco

Christopher Wheeldon’s new Cinderella for San Francisco Ballet is spied in 2 more casts by Aimée Tsao. Some nice dancing but still rather an OTT Broadway-style extravaganza.

Maria Kochetkova in Wheeldon's Cinderella.© Erik Tomasson. (Click image for larger version)

San Francisco Ballet – Cinderella – San Francisco

If extravagant productions are the way to bring in new audiences and fill the till then they are justified for those reasons alone. However, they don’t necessarily leave a rich legacy for future generations.

Christopher Wheeldon rehearsing his new Cinderella.© Erik Tomasson. (Click image for larger version)

Christopher Wheeldon – Choreographer

Choreographer Christopher Wheeldon is currently at the San Francisco Ballet preparing for the American premiere of his Cinderella. He has a rehearsal in forty-five minutes so we quickly set off to discuss his latest full-length ballet and many other things…

Maria Kochetkova and Joan Boada in Possokhov's Francesca da Rimini.© Erik Tomasson. (Click image for larger version)

San Francisco Ballet – Criss-Cross, Francesca da Rimini, Symphony in Three Movements – San Francisco

Program 7 made me think a lot about this tricky issue of programming because this bill is a weird sandwich made with a delectable gourmet filling between slices of bland Wonder bread.

Lorena Feijoo and Vitor Luiz in Caniparoli's Ibsen's House.© Erik Tomasson. (Click image for larger version)

San Francisco Ballet – Raymonda Act III, Ibsen’s House, Symphonic Dances – San Francisco

The highlight of the program is Lorena Feijóo’s return to the stage in more than one ballet during the evening. After being out on maternity leave for a year …is dancing better than ever.

Maria Kochetkova in Cranko's Onegin.© Erik Tomasson. (Click image for larger version)

San Francisco Ballet – Onegin (3 casts) – San Francisco

I first saw Onegin with Marcia Haydée and Richard Cragun when the Stuttgart Ballett made its New York debut in 1969. So when San Francisco Ballet premiered it in the 2011-12 season I was happy to meet an old acquaintance again.

Shen Wei Dance Arts in Undivided Divided.© Stephanie Berger. (Click image for larger version)

Shen Wei Dance Arts – Undivided Divided – San Francisco

For the past ten years, since I first saw Shen Wei’s Folding, I have been an admirer of this artist’s work.

San Francisco Ballet in Ratmansky's From Foreign Lands.© Erik Tomasson. (Click image for larger version)

San Francisco Ballet – From Foreign Lands, Scotch Symphony, Golden Hour – San Francisco

From Foreign Lands: “This amusing, yet subtle send-up of classical ballet is rewarding in its expertly-shaped choreography, and made all the more appealing by the slight wackiness of the costumes and visual jokes.”

Jennifer Stahl, Garen Scribner and James Sofranko in Possokhov's The Rite of Spring.© Erik Tomasson. (Click image for larger version)

San Francisco Ballet – Guide to Strange Places, Beaux, Rite of Spring – San Francisco

Possokhov’s Rite of Spring is a mixture of mostly good choices with a few that seem rather odd to me.

Full stage shot of the courtyard in Don Quixote.© Robert Shomler. (Click image for larger version)

Ballet San Jose – Don Quixote – San Jose

The good news is that I had a very pleasant afternoon, mostly the result of the dancers actually having a splendid time on stage.

Hélène Bouchet, Alexandre Riabko and Carsten Jung in Neumeier's Nijinsky.© Erik Tomasson. (Click image for larger version)

Hamburg Ballet – Nijinsky – San Francisco

It’s Valentine’s Day and I wish I could write a “love letter” review to the Hamburg Ballet. I am not being sentimental – this company is full of incredible dancers, from principals to corps de ballet…

Kellie Epperheimer of Hubbard Street Dance Chicago performs in Azimuth.© Margo Moritz. (Click image for larger version)

Hubbard Street Dance – Little mortal jump, Azimuth, Too Beaucoup – San Francisco

The dancers are really top-notch, razor-edge precise and boundlessly energetic, but limited to an eclectic vocabulary reflecting a Nederlands Dans Theater aesthetic…

© Joffrey Ballet

The Joffrey Ballet – Age of Innocence, After the Rain, The Green Table – San Francisco

Closing the program is Kurt Jooss’s anti-war ballet from 1932,The Green Table, one of the greatest pieces of choreography ever created and still relevant after more than 80 years.

San Francisco Ballet in McGregor's Borderlands.© Erik Tomasson. (Click image for larger version)

San Francisco Ballet – Borderland (premiere), Suite en Blanc, In the Night – San Francisco

The highly anticipated world premiere of Wayne McGregor’s Borderlands, commissioned by SF Ballet, meets with a standing ovation.

Yuan Yuan Tan and Damian Smith in Wheeldon's After The Rain.© Erik Tomasson. (Click image for larger version)

San Francisco Ballet – 80th Season Gala Opening – San Francisco

Perhaps the best pas de deux of the evening, judging by the audience reaction, is one from Christopher Wheeldon’s After the Rain.

Mark Morris Dance Group perform The Hard Nut.© Stephanie Berger. (Click image for larger version)

Mark Morris Dance Group – The Hard Nut – San Francisco

I always enjoy The Hard Nut even though there isn’t a lot of choreography.

Ana “Rokafella” Garcia.© Yu Wadee.

SF International Hip Hop Dancefest and Clas/sick Hip Hop – San Francisco

Sitting through both a matinée and an evening performance of the 14th Annual San Francisco International Hip Hop DanceFest on November 18th is the perfect antidote to the memorial service I attended the day before. Both celebrate life…

Frances Chung and Davit Karapetyan in Nutcracker.© Erik Tomasson. (Click image for larger version)

San Francisco Ballet – Nutcracker – San Francisco

Not to be a scrooge-ish Grinch (or is it a grinchy Scrooge?), but I don’t really like all the sentimental and consumeristic trimmings and trappings that surround the holidays.

Junna Ige and Maykel Solas in Don Quixote.© Robert Shomler. (Click image for larger version)

Ballet San Jose – Gala Performance – San Jose

…I’m not certain in which direction the company is headed. There is so much potential to be realised that it would be disappointing to see it ebb away.

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