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San Francisco Ballet Opening Gala

Update: pictures are up!

If you’re even the least bit WASPish, you’ve probably been on the traditional family Christmas trip to the Nutcracker. You know what I’m talking about, right? There’s at least one crying kid and four bad Christmas sweaters per row, and the ballet troupe hates it, but they grit their teeth because it subsidizes the rest of their season?

Ah yes. I’ve been many times, and I’ve even managed to enjoy a couple of them. Apart from that, though, I’ve never been to a real ballet performance. Symphony, yes. Opera, once or twice. Ballet, never. So when Nathan offered to take us to the San Francisco Ballet‘s Opening Night Gala (more, and more), I jumped at the chance.

It was absolutely beautiful. Instead of a full-length program, it was a collection of individual pieces, following a Spanish theme. There were traditional pas de deux, edgy modern arrangements, and a few that were inspired by other dance styles altogether. At times, they brought to mind the tango, the flamenco, bull fighting, even and Civil War era gunfights.

One of the most striking was the world premiere of Bitter Tears, choreographed by Yuri Possokhov to music by Handel. It was a slow, impossibly athletic tour de force for two dancers. It left the audience dazzled, more than a little confused, and generated lots of buzz – both good and bad – at intermission.

For most of the audience, though, the ballet itself wasn’t even the main event. The night started with a cocktail reception for the patrons, followed by dinner, another reception after the performance, and a number parties. It was a socialite tour de force.

Personally, I was happy just to be a fly on the wall. It was an amazing evening. Thanks, Nathan!

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