My review of San Francisco Ballet’s all-Mark Morris program in today’s Chronicle:
“Next to Artistic Director Helgi Tomasson, has anyone other than Mark Morris played a more obvious role in making San Francisco Ballet the company it is today? Since 1994, he’s given the Ballet seven commissioned works – more than any other ballet company. And he’s been happy to serve as its mouthpiece, blithely proclaiming San Francisco Ballet the best troupe in North America. That statement is Morris at his most blustery and contentious. But on Friday at the opening of the Ballet’s all-Morris program, there was no arguing San Francisco’s dancers are among his foremost interpreters.
Which of the three pieces you feel most passionately about may depend on your mood. For silly, there’s “Sandpaper Ballet,” Morris’ green-fingered mass romp to Leroy Anderson ditties. For sexy, there’s “Joyride,” a sleek metallic cruise through John Adams’ “Son of Chamber Symphony” (in which Isaac Mizrahi’s witty costumes strike again). Both were in fine form Friday, especially with James Sofranko and Tina LeBlanc lending down-home charm to “Sandpaper” and stately Elana Altman shape-shifting like Grecian statuary in “Joyride.”
The latter ballet, with its whirl of motifs and sudden strides offstage, calls for repeated viewings: I thought I grasped the structure of Morris’ response to Adams’ fiendishly meter-changing music then lost my grasp this go-round (and wondered if the often-tentative orchestra wasn’t hanging on to this “Joyride” for dear life). But I was surprised to find myself pleasantly distracted, because I had been so taken by the program opener, 2001’s “A Garden.” ”
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