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My review in today’s Chronicle:

“George Balanchine’s “Stars and Stripes” has closed out many a gala, but San Francisco Ballet Artistic Director Helgi Tomasson must have known that its campy, high-kicking patriotism could never appear so felicitous as the day after President Obama’s inauguration.

And so it was at the Ballet’s 76th season opening: the guys in their feathered parade hats twirling, the girls bedecked in red, white and blue saluting, the American flag rising as the crowd clapped along to John Philip Sousa marches.

What better way to celebrate a new era than with one of the most satisfying Ballet kickoffs in recent memory? After several seasons bogged down by the pomp and ponderousness of big anniversaries, the programming Wednesday was sprightly, the star turns mostly sparkling. This was also the first time in many a tendu that women outshone men in a troupe often accused of allowing male talent to eclipse its ballerinas.

Though the exceptions of male brilliance were striking. In the pas de deux from “Le Corsaire,” recent Ballet Nacional de Cuba defector Taras Domitro made a spectacular local debut, launching his tawny, compact body into textbook-perfect jumps, imbuing the connecting moments with spontaneity and never-overplayed feline prowess. ”

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