Rachel Howard is the former dance correspondent of The San Francisco Chronicle. She has written on dance in the Bay Area for the last ten years, and her writing has appeared in such publications as The New York Times, The Village Voice, and Dance Magazine. Her Web site is www.rachelhoward.com.
Giselle might have seemed merely an ordinary start to the San Francisco Ballet’s 78th season were it not for the sharply contrasting talents of two of the world’s most interesting ballerinas: Yuan Yuan Tan and Sarah Van Patten.
Last week marked the first return of the Mark Morris Dance Group to UC Berkeley since Robert Cole’s retirement and Matías Tarnopolsky’s start as director of Cal Performances; Friday at Zellerbach Hall, it was good to see that not much has changed. The choreographer best known for illuminating complex scores and the dancers known for making virtuosity out of unaffected humanity were both doing just that — yet, in unexpected ways, Morris may have raised the bar.
Since 2006, Napa Valley’s Festival del Sole has lured the likes of Joshua Bell and the Russian National Orchestra to wine country in the summer months for an orgy of the tasteful high life: the world’s finest musicians paired with the region’s best wines, enjoyed between meals at the area’s architecturally exquisite estates, vineyard strolls, and test drives of the Bentleys parked on display. On Friday, thanks to the sponsorship of Dede Wilsey, the festival added ballet to its pleasures, with tremendous success. “Stars of American and Russian Ballet” sold out Yountville’s Lincoln Theater.
For general ballet-goers, the run of Romeo and Juliet that opened Saturday and continues through this week is the crowning jewel of San Francisco Ballet’s 2010 season, which takes over the War Memorial Opera House every January through May.