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Writing from 2001

December 11, 2001, San Francisco Ballet: The Nutcracker "The holiday season got off to a delightfully snowy start last Tuesday with the San Francisco Ballet’s opening of "The Nutcracker" at the War Memorial Opera House. I admit that in all these years, and after seeing both provincial and national productions every single year from age five to age twenty, I had not been able to bring myself to see the San Francisco "Nutcracker", but it turned out to be my loss. Despite a few peculiar choreographic moments, it was overall a fanciful, enchanting, eye-filling production which featured some of San Francisco Ballet’s finest dancers, among them an elegant and icy Muriel Maffre as the Snow Queen and a radiant Joanna Berman as the Sugar Plum Fairy."
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November 24, 2001, ODC/SF: The Velveteen Rabbit "Okay, so I admit it. Despite a jaded San Francisco air, I can still be found sniffing away and holding back tears next to the six-year olds at a matinee of ODC/SF’s "The Velveteen Rabbit". No one is too old for KT Nelson’s clever adaptation, which was designed as family fare and is celebrating its 15th anniversary with a two-week run at the Yerba Buena Center this year. It was sweet entertainment all the way."
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November 30, 2001, Savage Jazz: Take Five, Black Codes, M'Boom"'Jazz dance' can be a notoriously ill-defined category ranging from theatrical-style dance to contemporary ballet, but rarely does it intersect at all with 'jazz music' or even the principles of jazz music. Fortunately there is Savage Jazz Dance Company..."
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November 6, 2001, Adventures in Motion Pictures: Car Man "It's a scandal; it's several scandals, in no particular order: sex, orgiastic mayhem, murder and gore. But secretly, isn't this tawdry story just the kind of thing you love to watch?"
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October 23, 2001, LINES Contemporary Ballet: The People of the Forest "Despite some beautiful and evocative moments, a perplexing interpretation of its sociopolitical agenda kept Alonzo King's newest work, 'The People of the Forest' from making a serious impact. "
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October 16, 2001, Company Joachim Schlömer: La Guerra d'Amore "But while there are many beautiful moments and a conceptually arresting melding of music with dance, ultimately 'La Guerra d'Amore' possesses more of tanztheater's long-windedness than emotional bite."
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October 15, 2001, Words on Dance: In Conversation with Lorena Feijoo"In a perfect complement to the Ballet Nacional de Cuba's performances at Berkeley last weekend, Words on Dance and Deborah DuBowy presented a delightful evening of conversation between the Cuban-trained principal dancer for San Francisco Ballet, Lorena Feijoo, and the San Francisco Chronicle's dance critic, Octavio Roca. The evening was, in many ways, an encomium for and a study of the enduring influences that Alicia Alonso and the Cuban style have exerted on classical dance."
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October 12, 2001, Ballet Nacional de Cuba: Coppélia "Few companies in the world can render the great classic ballets as well as the Ballet Nacional de Cuba, and last Friday's performance of Alicia Alonso's version of the storybook ballet, Coppélia demonstrated the sunny charm and style that is the hallmark of this company."
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September 21, 2001, American Ballet Theatre: Giselle "McKenzie's return to the basics though, makes particular sense for this company which has seen so many great productions, and which could take the opportunity to distill all that has been learned from them into a kind of summation. But one must always keep in mind that it is only the sensibilities of the dancers that can make a truly affecting Giselle and that returning to the heart of a ballet requires more than just faithfully recreated costumes, sets, and steps."
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September 19, 2001, American Ballet Theatre: Black Tuesday, Gong, Jabula "One of America's finest ballet companies performed the second half of its West Coast engagements bringing pieces by two idiosyncratically American choreographers and an unusual and promising piece from Natalie Weir. It was a somewhat uneven program in which the pyrotechnics of the great classical ballets were oddly absent."
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August 5, 2001, San Francisco Ballet: Stern Grove Performance "The redoubtable San Francisco Ballet showed grit and determination at their annual free performance at the Stern Grove Festival last Sunday. Currently between European jaunts, the company presented three reliable classics: the second act of Swan Lake, excerpts of the Wedding Act of The Sleeping Beauty, and George Balanchine's Symphony in Three Movements in an afternoon that had few surprises, but lots of great dancing."
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July 20, 2001, La Scala Ballet: Giselle "Much attention has been given to the alterations that Guillem has made to the Romantic ballet, which she originally set for the National Ballet of Finland in 1999, and for many who are used to a particular aesthetic, La Scala's Giselle will indeed look vastly different. Nevertheless, in the end, it is not a deconstruction of the 19th century classic, but simply a new staging."
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May 4, 5, 2001, Paris Opera Ballet: Le Parc
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April 30, May 1, 3, 2001, Paris Opera Ballet: La Bayadere "On Monday night, as I sat in the War Memorial Opera House I fantasized about what it would be like to have the Paris Opera Ballet as my "home" company. What if I were able to see them every week, to watch them in contemporary and in classical rep? To be able to track as this coryphée got their first shot at a particular role, or that sujet tried out a variation? It seems unfair to see them only as a taste. It seems unfair to see any company that way. What if the dancer was executing sloppy pirouettes that night? Is he a bad turner or is he having an "off" night? One wishes for the luxury of seeing them week after week, but just one week will have to suffice."
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April 3, 6, 8, 2001, San Francisco Ballet: Night, L'Arlesienne, Symphony in Three Movements "One of the best pieces San Francisco Ballet has in its repertoire now is Julia Adam's Night, which opened last week's run of Program 6. In a program designed to show off the versatility and strength of the company, Night alone hinted at the untapped capabilities of these dancers."
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March 16, 20, 2001, San Francisco Ballet: The Sleeping Beauty "In The Sleeping Beauty Helgi Tomasson has created an immensely saleable production of one of the great classics of ballet, complete with glittering tutus and elegant dancing. In the end though, such classics are only as strong as their principal dancers, and Friday's opening cast was peppered with some of San Francisco Ballet's finest principals and soloists."
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March 4, 2001, San Francisco Ballet: The Prodigal Son, A Garden, Raymonda Act III "I had not intended to see Program 4, but in the end, I found myself drawn irresistibly by a few factors: the prospect of watching Muriel Maffre vamp it up in Prodigal Son, and watching Lorena Feijoo tear up the stage in Raymonda. So, there I was, craning with the other eager audience members in the standing room on Sunday."
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February 25, March 2, 2001, San Francisco Ballet: The Tuning Game, Without Words, Celts "After Tuning Game, my hopes for the state of American dance were dimming, but then San Francisco Ballet turned in two spectacular performances of Nacho Duato's beautifully contemplative Without Words. It seemed like this was choreography that the dancers were born to perform."
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January 30, Feb 9, 2001, San Francisco Ballet: Sea Pictures, Black Cake, Prism "The start of the season was heavily anticipated for most of the dancers I knew. All of us felt a little starved of good dancing, despite the surfeit of Nutcrackers this year. So I must confess that I found the first program for San Francisco Ballet this year to be a bit tame. The acquisition of the Hans van Manen piece notwithstanding, It was clear that this year would be not about the works, but about the dancers."
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