When a ballet performance leaves you walking out of the theater feeling more happy, energized, and appreciative of life than when you walked in, you know that it's been money well spent. But after Sunday's matinee at Lincoln Center when all of those feelings came together, Haglund didn't walk out of the theater immediately. No, he skipped over to the box office window to buy yet another ticket to San Francisco Ballet next week so that he could experience the wondrous beauty of Sarah Van Patten's dancing.
Yesterday in Edwaard Liang's Symphonic Dances with the marvelous and handsome Anthony Spaulding as her partner, Van Patten captivated with her cool but intense passion and musical phrasing that sent the fervent undercurrent of Rachmaninov's notes surging through the viewer's own nervous system. She must have been a devastating Tatiana in Cranko's Onegin with those soulful eyes that flash from hurt to hard to hungry.
Liang's ballet proved even more likeable on second viewing. His choreography is so responsive to the soul of the music whereas Ratmansky's From Foreign Lands was responsive to the notes. If Liang were to revise and invigorate the final few minutes when everyone is on stage, he would have an enduring work that many other major ballet companies in the world would beg to include in their repertoires.
From Foreign Lands got a big boost from Mathilde Froustey and Frances Chung in the Spanish section with their MSP10. That's megawatt stage presence to the tenth power for those who are paging through the Vaganova manual. Their effortless jumping and impressive unison drove the momentum of the afternoon's performance of this ballet.
Serge Lifar's Suite en Blanc was the highlight of all the performances that Haglund has seen so far. The Paris Opera Ballet was miraculous in this ballet on their last trip to New York, and San Francisco Ballet's effort was just as enjoyable. Mathilde Froustey, on a one-year leave from POB to dance as a principal at SFB, was all French perfection and glamour in the pas de trois with Davit Karapetyan and Vitor Luiz.
Simone Messmer's debut in the pas de cinq was impressive, and her explosive manège of coupe jetes during the fête foraine was worth the price of the ticket. Throughout her time on stage, she left a very strong impression that someone much like Cynthia Gregory had returned to San Francisco Ballet.
Taras Domitro grabbed the audience's attention with his spectacular mazurka. He's small but looks much larger in his solo dancing than when partnering a ballerina.
Yuan Yuan Tan and Tiit Helimets were to die for in the pas de deux. Their grace and elegance left Haglund almost breathless. The strong, tall, and very blond Helimets made each ballerina who he danced with last week look like a revelation. His upcoming Thursday debut as the Prince to Sarah Van Patten's Cinderella will probably make Haglund love the ballet no matter what Christopher Wheeldon does to it.
Suite en Blanc is simply a beautiful, beautiful work of pristine classicism that is a refreshing antidote to the hyper-stepped gymnography of today's choreographers. Bravo to San Francisco Ballet for acquiring it and presenting it with such respect.
The H.H. Pump Bump Award, a Borgezie Platinum Cleopatra Stiletto First Position trophy (£70,000 per pair) is bestowed upon the cast of Suite en Blanc.