As the San Francisco Ballet prepares for the Lincoln Center Festival, and Yuri Possokhov prepares to give his final performances, I talked with him about his new role as the Ballet’s choreographer in residence:
“Yuri Possokhov rushed through the San Francisco Ballet building’s halls like a frenzied character from a Dostoyevsky novel, dodging publicists and ballet masters, finally settling his muscled body into a corner sofa in the deserted dancers’ lounge. On a day when most of the company was on break after a grueling spring season, Possokhov had photos to take, a visa to arrange for a gala in Japan, scheduling conflicts to untangle. Such is the pace of life for a star dancer who happens to be a rising choreographer. No wonder he’d felt numb at his farewell performance weeks earlier.
“The night of the farewell I was completely empty,” Possokhov said, graying curls framing his famously chiseled jaw. “I thought I would cry — no. No tears, no laugh, nothing. Then on our last day off, nobody here, I come to studio and rehearse. I was sitting in my locker room. I just sit there — shooom!” He drew his hands in front of his crystalline blue eyes to illustrate the torrent. “It was like pouring.”
Emotion has a way of pouring out of Possokhov in both his dancing and his dances, and right now those emotions must be intense. Though he took his final bow in San Francisco on May 5, the 42-year-old principal will give his last performances next week in New York during the San Francisco Ballet’s Lincoln Center Festival engagement. Then he’ll return to the unknown: a position as the company’s resident choreographer and high expectations as one of the most promising dancemakers now working in classical ballet.
“I don’t know what does ‘choreographer in residence’ mean?” he said. “Time will show.” But if the duties of the job are vague, the announcement of Possokhov’s appointment came as reassuring news to local ballet fans who have watched him evolve from dreamy danseur noble to a choreographer with a great gift for drama. ”
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