San Francisco Ballet?s fifth program, which I caught Friday, is to my eye the most satisfying offering of the season thus far. There is nothing new in it, but everything you need to feed your soul is contained in the ten minutes or so of Helgi Tomasson?s ?Concerto Grosso.? It?s a short, seemingly simple work set to the baroque music of Geminiani. It was made for a gala two years ago, to showcase four corps men and the then-new soloist (now principal) Pascal Molat. And it keeps coming back because it leaves the audience in an awed hush. Indeed, it?s so unusual in American society to see men moving so gracefully, and with such a spirit of communality, that seeing ?Concerto Grosso? is like coming across a pride of lions on the savannah: you watch reverently, quietly, as though afraid your slightest sound might scare off the exotic beauty before you.
All the men are excellent: Molat with that wonderful expression of relish on his face, Garrett Anderson with his irrepressible sensuality, Hansuke Yamamoto with his wickedly fast and clean turns. But the fun is choosing favorites, and I?ve fallen for Jaime Garcia Castilla. He?s very young and absolutely serious, with a stunningly high extension, and when he holds his leg in attitude it?s like the whole world has suddenly come into focus. If you see the ballet at no other time this year, see this program. Aside from ?Concerto Grosso,? the company is dancing ?The Four Temperaments? like nobody?s business, and Yuri Possokhov?s passionate ?Study in Motion? holds up nicely from last season.
And if you don?t trust my assessment, I?ve got a whole raft of takes to offer. Want an idea of how bustling the critical community is on San Francisco?s dance scene? Check this out: SFB?s fourth and fifth programs were reviewed by Mary Ellen Hunt, Janice Berman, Rita Felciano, Paul Parish, Ann Murphy, and Allan Ulrich.