A Look Back: Val Caniparoli’s Lambarena (Part 1)

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Evelyn Cisneros in Caniparoli's Lambarena (1995)

Evelyn Cisneros in Caniparoli’s Lambarena (1995)

I was first approached by Helgi Tomaason in early 1994 to create a new commission for San Francisco Ballet for the 1994/1995 Season.  It was then that I started my search for music, concepts and ideas for a new work.  Dan McGarry, who at that time was on staff with San Francisco Ballet and a good friend, mentioned to me that I needed to create a big hit.  He jokingly, or maybe not, mentioned that I needed to create a work especially for Evelyn Cisneros and a lot of men without their shirts on.  He was not too far off, but I did like the idea of creating a work for Evelyn and to capitalize on her strong technique, amazing stage presence and to celebrate her extraordinary career.

My search for music was not working as well as I expected.  Of course there was some backup plans, but nothing was really resonating.  I was getting a bit nervous as there were only two weeks left before I was to start creating in the studios with the dancers.  I happened to be talking to Eda Holmes, who was at the time living in Paris and was an amazing dancer herself with San Francisco Ballet.  I mentioned to her my predicament and that I couldn’t find that right provocative, sexy and powerful score that I really wanted for Evelyn.  She said that she had the perfect CD for me to hear that was given to her as a wedding gift in Paris.  She sent it immediately and I received it in the mail about three days later.

It was the CD of Lambarena.  I fell in love with it within seconds.  A week later I was in the studios starting the creative process.

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Facebook Social Tickets

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We are giving you a great new way to buy tickets to SF Ballet — straight from our Facebook Page with the new SF Ballet Social Tickets app!

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What is SF Ballet Social Tickets?

Since one of the best things about visiting the Ballet is the chance to experience dance as part of a night out with family and friends, our new SF Ballet Social Tickets is an app on the SF Ballet Facebook Page that gives you everything you need to plan a special group outing through Facebook — from suggesting performance dates and inviting your friends, to actually purchasing tickets. You can also use the app to just buy your tickets straightaway without leaving Facebook!

How do I use the SF Ballet Social Tickets app?

The SF Ballet Social Tickets Facebook app is one way to purchase your SF Ballet tickets. The app is easy to use and follow, but in case you’d like some help here’s our full guide:

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Les Etés de la Danse Festival

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Luke Ingham and Dores Andre rehearsing Wheeldon's 'Within the Golden Hour' (© Erik Tomasson)
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Backstage (© Jordan Hammond)
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San Francisco Ballet in Robbin's 'Glass Pieces' (© Erik Tomasson)
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San Francisco Ballet in Robbin's 'Glass Pieces' (© Erik Tomasson)
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Mathilde Froustey bowing after Wheeldon's 'Within the Golden Hour" (© ikaubert)
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Vitor Luiz, Mathidle Froustey, and Tiit Helimets after Tomasson's 'Caprice'
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Backstage at the Theatre du Chatelet (© Jordan Hammond)
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Yuan Yuan Tan in front of the Theatre du Chatelet
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Esteban Hernandez and Joseph Walsh (© Alexander Reneff-Olson)
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Benjamin Stewart at the Notre Dame Cathedral (© Alexander Reneff-Olson)
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Pascal Molat and Mathilde Froustey (© Erik Tomasson)
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Diego Cruz at the Louvre
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Gaetano Amico in Paris (© Seema Hamid)
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The Company (© Erik Tomasson)

This past July San Francisco Ballet returned to the beautiful Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris for the Les Etés de la Danse Festival. The three-week engagement marks the tenth anniversary of SF Ballet’s appearance in Paris during the festival’s inaugural season. Once again, French dance fans and critics alike have embraced the Company, with nightly standing ovations and rave reviews.

“A relentlessly creative company…[SF Ballet] showed themselves to be one of the strongest, most versatile groups in the world.”
– The Financial Times

“The company looked light, sharp and totally at home…”
- The Telegraph

“The audience went wild, and no wonder. How fortunate for us that there are many more nights of these particular Americans in Paris.” 
- The Arts Desk

It was a whirlwind engagement where we presented 25 works by 15 choreographers, with a different program nearly every night for three weeks. The dancers had a memorable time both onstage and off, with their free time spent enjoying the wonders that Paris has to offer. To read more about the behind the scenes experiences from an insider’s perspective and musings about tour life in Paris, you can find blog posts by dancers Pascal Molat and James Sofranko, and SF Ballet staff photographer Erik Tomasson.

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Reflections on Paris

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As San Francisco Ballet’s run comes to a close here in Paris, I am left to contemplate what has transpired and what I will remember for years to come. It has been an intense tour with no shortage of performances (18) or amount of ballets (also 18) and the Company deserves credit for pulling it off. The audiences have been very receptive, and judging from our prolonged curtain calls and strong ticket sales and reviews, SFB in Paris has been a resounding success.

Ten years ago, SFB inaugurated the Les Etes de la Danse festival and I remember with fondness Yuri Possokhov’s final performances. A decade later, this summer marks the last performances of two more great dancers, Damian Smith and Ruben Martin Cintas with SFB. Backstage watching Damian and Yuan Yuan Tan perform the pas de deux’s from Wheeldon’s After the Rain and Ghosts for the last time will remain some of my favorite memories of their unforgettable partnership.

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