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San Francisco Ballet

Programme V: ‘Apollo’, ‘Serenade’, ‘The Four Temperaments’

27th March 2004
San Francisco, War Memorial Opera House

by Renee Renouf

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'Four Temperaments' reviews

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A matinee is not a particularly auspicious place to debut in a major role, for the curtain calls are cut short, and when the weather was as balmy as it was March 27, it seemed everyone wanted to hurry outside. Before the performance, walking through the oval courtyard between the Opera House and the Veterans Building, I saw several of the dancers sunning themselves, having a last cigarette and admiring the young son of Sherri LeBlanc, being watched over by her sister Tina. Vilanoba was among them, obviously intent on what lay before him.

Sherri gave a good rendering of The Russian Girl in Serenade and Julie Diana danced the fated one as if she owned the part. When Diana is right for a part, she is totally right. Sherri's taller size brings different dynamics to the role than Tina, but both have a gentle, warm quality which carries across the proscenium with its humanity.

With Vilanoba, there is an Apollonian-sized young god, with a head which might have served as the model for Michelangelo's David. Where there is a certain fire hinting at Dionysius in Garcia's eyes, Vilanoba is startled over his birth, his gropings like something etched in carrera marble, the movement clear and within the form and placement on stage, a ritual progression as much as a dance.

Vilanoba's size permitted an expansiveness of movement by the three Muses, who, having danced the role at least twice prior to this matinee, began to feel more comfortable. This was particularly true for Yuan Yuan Tan's Terpsichore.

There is a point where Apollo's pre-selection is apparent. It occurs when he sends Calliope and Polyhymnia stage left and Terpsichore to stage right. The choice seems foretold before the Muses' solo variations.

After the swaddling clothes are off and the use of the musical instrument mastered, Vilanoba hit everything in stride. His final variation before he hears and heeds the call is different from Garcia's, who executes a directional change as he moves laterally. D'Amboise obviously adapted the passage to Vilanoba's stature and it worked well. Like his countryman, Charles Jude who danced a memorable Apollo at Zellerbach, Vilanoba gathers his muses together before they move towards Olympus with distinct Gallic charm and courtesy.

Vilanoba and Salamakha will dance the role twice, Garcia a total of five times. While I don't begrudge the emphasis, Garcia is electric, Perhaps next season the distribution will be more even and audiences can enjoy Vilanobe and Salamakha again.

In Four Temperaments, Sherri Le Blanc again distinguished herself in the Choleric variation, while Rory Hohenstein seemed utterly beyond his depth in the Phlegmatic. There are several other corps members who could have given equal accounting to the solo; he was not prepared to undertake it at the interpretive level it required.


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