As the lights dimmed and voices hushed at the David H. Koch Theater, San Francisco Ballet dancers prepared in the wings for a performance that would leave ballet aficionados speechless.
The San Francisco Ballet is famous for its innovation, and it does not disappoint with its passionate display of ballet’s beauty. Thanks to insightful choreography bolstered by phenomenal artists, the company makes a masterful impression on New York City, pushing creativity and novelty within the world of dance.
“From Foreign Lands,” the first of four New York debuts on the mixed bill, energetically evokes the diversity of the cultural landscape of Europe through dance, employing épaulements and ports de bras to exude the eccentricities that distinguish one European nation from another. Vivacious and intricate, Ratmansky’s choreography is brought to life with dynamism and exactness by capable dancers who know how to concentrate on technique, give in to the melodies, and let their motions sing with the music.
Frances Chung lightens the mood with a sprightly performance, captivating the audience with her mercurial personality and careful footwork as a marishka-esque Russian ballerina. Later, she successfully channels Kitri as a spirited Spaniard. Pascal Molat embodies a flirtatious Italian who would make Casanova envious, and Sofiane Sylve capitalizes on her control to deliver a stunning adagio that allows viewers to appreciate the skill of the whole company.
A sojourn into a more contemporary realm, “Beaux” opens to a pink camouflage background and a cast of all men. Set to Baroque-style music by Bohuslav Martinù, Mark Morris’ witty choreography challenges masculinity within manhood, placing the dancers in their most vulnerable states. Their unitards, made to match the backdrop, change color depending on the stage lighting. At moments, the men appear nearly nude, allowing for a more honest presentation of the male form.
The scene creates a potent sexual tension within the work as Martinù’s dainty chords combine with a feverish but contained allegro. Nevertheless, manliness still surrounds the piece, and the ensemble literally reaches new heights with gorgeous leaps that defy gravity.
In stark contrast to the relaxed nature of “Beaux,” Yuri Possokhov’s “Classical Symphony” alludes to Forsythe with a powerful precision that transcends the boundaries of traditional ballet. Maria Kochetkova knows how to create classical lines and then break them to contour masterpieces with her body—she takes the opportunity to be not only a performer but also an artist. Hansuke Yamamoto, a soloist among principals, asserts his right to portray the lead as his jetés launch him to a princely echelon, forcing him into a category of his own.
But it is Yuan Yuan Tan in “Symphonic Dances” who steals the show with a breathtaking pas de deux that awes and inspires. Every movement is purposeful, every position elongated and elegant. Though the repertoire is plotless, her stunning lines transform Edwaard Liang’s piece into a love story dedicated to dance itself.
The San Francisco Ballet will be performing at the David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center until Oct. 27. Tickets begin at $89.