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Ballet from San Francisco: Great Variety

MFDP: Aruba
August, 1997

by Floor Huygen, translated by Leslie Viezee
copyright ©1997

Ballet teacher Astrid Salazar was most certainly enjoying herself in the theatre: being able to see one of her former students, all the way from San Francisco with her own ballet company, appearing back in Aruba where she learned her very first dance steps. Arlene Newhouse Halley, returning with her Pacific Dance Theatre, performed together with Mark Foehringer and his Dance Project as the Theatre Ballet of San Francisco.

The company consisted of 17 dancers, both amateur and professional, and performed an attractive and varied program. Many different styles were represented, from classical and Argeninian tango-forlklore to modern ballet. There was nothing resembling a full-length ballet; most of the pieces were very short and so different in character that it was difficult to get a strong, clear impression from the program as a whole.

The overture to the first ballet, "Here to There," by Mark Foehringer was especially impressive due to the mysterious effect of the lighting as well as the absence of music (which was added later). The pas de deux, performed by Venezuelan Graciela Acedo and her partner Michael Howerton was all grace and lyricism. This piece displayed a more traditional rather than classical style.

I had seen Genexodus (combining the words Genesis and Exodus) by Arlene Halley several years ago in St. Maarten. Arlene had set it to 2 dancers from the Motiance Dance Company to music by Rachmaninoff. It symbolizes the birth, growth of a dancers, also appropriate for Aruba, as a dancer leaves the island for further study abroad. Especially in this piece it was interesting to see how characteristic of the choreography her own style is. The emphasis was not solely on technique but rather on the strong combination of technique and emotional expression so it didn't appear to make much difference whether it was performed by more amateur dancers from St. Maarten or the more advanced ones from San Francisco.

One of the most imposing numbers was "In Memorium," danced by Brian Fisher and choreographed by Mark Foehringer in memory of his father. He used music by the Brasilian composer Hector Villa-Lobos, especailly meaningful since it originates from the country where he grew up and first experienced dance.

"Variations on a Theme" (from Paganini) was a typically beautiful Arlene Halley-style ballet, danced by Kathryn Petak, Eric Hoisington, Kristina MacGregor and Annette Williams. This was followed by a lovely tango, Sin Miedo, by Astor Piazzola, choreographed and danced by Juan Pazmino with Graciela Acedo.

It would have been hard to imagine a bigger contrast than the one provided by the Sarabande from Archangelo Corelli. The last ballet, "Passion," by Mark Foehringer to music by Peter Gabriel was especially impressive due to the depth of expression. The segment titled "The Feeling Begins" was technically excellent. Like the other ballets performed this evening, the lighting was outstanding and very professional.

Public interest and support was a bit disappointing, especially from the local ballet commmunity, who had a chance to see the accomlishments by a former student of an Arruban ballet school. The Theatre Ballet of San Francisco performs again tonight at 8:00p.m

August 1997
copyright ©1997
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