My review of the San Francisco Ballet gala in today’s Chronicle:

“Galas take the temperature of their times, and the tone was subtly sober Wednesday as the San Francisco Ballet started its 74th season. A subdued audience claimed its seats with surprising promptness, depth of feeling marked the most affecting dancing, and individual artistry trumped odd programming choices. The austerity was strangely refreshing: This was a gala in which works of substance, and not the usual sugary bonbons, most satisfied our appetites.

That’s not to say there weren’t moments over the two hours of virtuosic movement to prompt smiles. Who wouldn’t grin at the crisp spontaneity of Kristin Long and Joan Boada in Artistic Director Helgi Tomasson’s “Soirees Musicales,” or giggle at Tina LeBlanc’s whirlwind phrasing in Gerald Arpino’s “L’Air D’Esprit”?

Yet an elegiac intensity marked the finest performances. Lorena Feijoo, always a committed artist and often a gala standout, danced the second act pas de deux from “Giselle” with such pathos that even viewers unfamiliar with the story could not help but feel for her Albrecht, the princely Tiit Helimets. He mourned at her graveside with beautifully placed extensions and feather-soft landings; she pleaded for his life with urgent, fluttery jumps and arms gently rounded in the Romantic style. From the worry on her striking face, you could almost picture the full corps of ghostly Wilis behind her, commanding that she dance her lover to death.”

Click here for the full review.

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