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“Bitter Fruit”
Mark Foehringer Dance Project/SF
Cowell Theater, San Francisco
June 2007

by Renee Renouf
copyright ©2007 Ballet Magazine

Before a modest audience, Foehringer's Dance Project provided eight dancers with two dances, divergent in style, non-stop in inventive and energetic demands. All danced with a right good will for this local find who choreographs out of the box. Foehringer, alas, limits his concerts to one weekend a year, this year at the Cowell Theater. In August, he will undertake a three-month Fulbright-sponsored residency with the Ballet Nacional de Peru in Lima.

This year, the repertoire included the revival of Foehringer's "Concerto Grosso" to the music of Ernst Bloch, premiered in 2000 in New York City. This year's premiere was "Bitter Fruit", its mixed score including the music of Steve Reich, John Adams, Odetta and Heitor Villa-Lobos. His dancers include members of ODC/SF, Diablo Ballet and other area ensembles.

Since Balanchine created Concerto Barocco, choreographers worthy of the name have tried their hand with baroque music, admittedly with varying success. Few have utilized the music of Ernest Bloch whose modern take on the form is compelling, almost thunderous in its unremitting sonority. "Bitter Fruit" explored ironies as they manifest in contemporary life; fitting in versus expressing one's self without restraint. If the manifestation is obviously mild or doesn't fit general expectations, off with its head.

One particularly poignant device used was the flag folded in the method for all military and naval burial rites. The small clutch of the bereaved female, the functionary who folds the flag, the officer who takes and the flag and presents it to the bereaved provided the leitmotiv for the piece. The flag, the folding reappeared, as well as the players, whether singly or paired. Business as usual against lonely individual despair elicited William Steig-like "I mind my own business" group horizontal stage traversing, heads bobbing, Japanese rokuro-kube doll style. When executed close to and oblivious of the bereaved female, the effect bleached the emotions.

I am less familiar with the women who appeared, but they more than held their own: Tanya Bello,Kaitlyn Ebert, Marina Fukushima, Maya Hey.

Published: 13 July 2007
copyright ©2007 Ballet Magazine
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