Last Thursday Penelope and I went to one of the last performances of SF Ballet's program 2, featuring Jerome Robbins' Opus 19/The Dreamer, the world premiere of Christopher Wheeldon's Ghosts and Paul Taylor's frequently performed Company B.
Usually I'm a huge fan of Robbins, but this particular work didn't really move me and many of the signature elements of the Robbins style were missing. The music by Prokofiev didn't really help, though the signature elements of his style, the creepy-spider movements etc., were there in abundance, and violinist Franklin D'Antonio gave a nice solo turn. Pascal Molat and Sarah Van Patten, two dancers who I usually find it very easy to be enthralled by, couldn't really bring this dream to anything more than a light reverie.
Wheeldon's Ghosts on the other hand, was a dazzling success- one of the very best things I've seen on the stage in some time and it's a shame this piece wasn't ready for the New Works Festival. I was initially skeptical of anything featuring the music of 80's hair-band leader C.F. Kip Winger, but the music was modern and immediately accessible- giving Wheeldon and the dancers plenty to work with in a 22 minute score that was always interesting and only once or twice ventured into "typical late 20th century wannabe film music." Winger should keep at this- he's quite good. It didn't hurt that the company's heaviest-hitters, Yuan Yuan Tan, Lorena Feijoo and Damian Smith were all on hand to make this a resounding success on every level. I don't know about the clunky bit of metal or whatever it was floating above the stage, but if you missed this, definitely see it when it returns during a future season.
The program closed with Company B and unfortunately it turned into a primer on how ballet is really a team effort as one of the male dancers fell hopelessly behind and disrupted the flow of the entire company. It came across as under rehearsed and amateurish- all the greater pity because it followed something truly great and let the evening finish on a flatter note than it deserved.