My review in the Chronicle:
“Jorma Elo, where have you been all our lives?
The Finnish choreographer’s “Double Evil” proved the unqualified hit of San Francisco Ballet’s New Works Festival on Thursday, crowning Program C’s final slate of world premieres with a ballet so effortlessly innovative, fresh and blood-pumping that it seemed, excepting Mark Morris’ “Joyride,” to occupy a different plane than all before. “Double Evil” is a thrill on its own, but a festival of 10 new ballets invites comparisons, and to my eye the most fruitful was with Stanton Welch’s “Naked” from the evening before. Though different on the surface, on a deeper level they play the same game: using classical steps as a base for startlingly modern departures. So why, in the Welch, does the exercise seem stilted, studied, merely academic, while in the Elo the results are visceral and vital?
True, Elo has the benefit of in-your-face music: two movements from Philip Glass’ pounding, primal “Concerto Fantasy for Two Timpanists and Orchestra,” alternating with Vladimir Martinov’s achingly beautiful “Come In!” (Roy Malan excellent on solo violin). And true, the Bay Area has not experienced a large body of Elo work upon which to hypothesize: Aside from “Double Evil,” his first San Francisco Ballet commission, we’ve seen only his “C. to C. (Close to Chuck),” which American Ballet Theatre brought here last year.
But the confident style of “Double Evil” made clear why Elo, now resident choreographer at Boston Ballet, has zoomed to ballet’s fore in the past five years. It’s a question of attitude. To Elo, just as to Balanchine and William Forsythe, it seems that classical ballet is not some fusty, precious tradition to be violated by bringing it up to the present day. It’s not – as in the Welch – an anachronism: no preening jewelry-box ballerinas here, despite Holly Hynes’ wonderfully provocative Petipa-style tutus.
Instead, when Sarah Van Patten takes a slightly skewed tendu in “Double Evil,” she looks just as 21st century as when she’s standing turned-in, winding down like some “Coppelia” doll-cum-street-princess. ”
Click here for the full review.