Bad news about San Francisco Ballet’s program six. My review in today’s Chronicle:

“Apparently even the San Francisco Ballet isn’t immune from the midseason slump. Granted, program five’s crowd-pleasing extravaganza made a hard act to follow, but the sixth repertory slate that opened Wednesday is a bona fide dud. There’s a pleasant-enough encore airing of Agnes de Mille’s “Rodeo” and a warmed-over revival of Julia Adam’s “Night.” But what should have been the meat of the program is a world premiere by Artistic Director Helgi Tomasson. I’m sorry to report that “On Common Ground” is the worst ballet by him I’ve yet seen.

It’s a shame because when Tomasson makes intimate ballets tailored to showcase the strengths of favored dancers, the results can be elegant, and sometimes stirring. And in this case, Tomasson began with talent worth exploring. On the veteran side, Tina LeBlanc and Lorena Feijoo share a duet, while Joan Boada and Davit Karapetyan get space-devouring solos. On the emerging side, the slinkily musical soloist Rory Hohenstein shares some teasing interludes with glamour girl Elana Altman and with Jennifer Stahl, a first-year corps member graced by striking long lines and a cool confidence.

Alas, Tomasson seems never to have discovered what he would like to say with this stellar bunch, for rarely has such an inharmonious confusion of theatrical elements appeared on the Opera House stage. The music for “On Common Ground” is by Ned Rorem: swelling, ominous strings, competent but forgettable. Or perhaps you never get a chance to fully hear the score, so quickly are you distracted by Sandra Woodall’s visual design.

A layer of giant white gingko leaves, or so I’m told they are, floats high above the stage; they look suspiciously similar to the hovering lotus leaves seen last fall in the butoh troupe Sankai Juku’s “Kagemi.” The costumes Woodall has paired with this vista are truly flummoxing: black-and-neon leotard dresses that resemble bicycling jerseys for the women; burgundy-and-neon leotards for the men.”

Click here for the full review.

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