Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 7 / 15 February 2018

Pagan love songs

Out There

San Francisco Ballet dancers Shannon Marie Rugani (left) and Luke Willis (right) enjoy the LGBT NiteOut reception with SF Ballet patrons Scott Walton and John Clay Leonard (center). Photo: Rick Gerharter
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Rewind the tape to 1913 Paris, when the premiere of The Rite of Spring changed classical music and dance forever. No less than Igor Stravinsky's dissonant score, Vaslav Nijinsky's iconoclastic choreography for Serge Diaghilev's Ballets Russes was truly shocking to the audience, sparking a famous riot among its well-heeled patrons. The audience didn't riot when San Francisco Ballet Choreographer in Residence Yuri Possokhov's interpretation of Rite of Spring returned to the Opera House last weekend as part of SFB's Program 6. But seldom have we seen such a visceral display of raw carnality on the ballet stage.

The program also includes the world premiere of SFB Artistic Director & Principal Choreographer Helgi Tomasson 's newest work, Caprice, set to music by Camille Saint-Saens, as well as the 20th-anniversary presentation of Mark Morris ' Maelstrom, the first work ever created for SFB by that legendary dancemaker.

It was the second of this season's NiteOut series for LGBT audiences, so after all the ovations, Out There and peppy Pepi hot-footed it up to Dress Circle Bar for the post-performance party graciously hosted by principal dancer Damian Smith and corps de ballet dancer Shannon Marie Rugani. Other SFB dancers dropping by included Luke Willis and Joan Boada. Partygoers were still dazzled by the spectacle of the Rite. Possokhov has said he wanted to show that it's "one step from beautiful to ugly." Although the work is meant to evoke a human sacrifice in pagan Russia, one man who chatted us up party-side had a different theory.

"The woman [sacrificial virgin] went into convulsions once she saw what she'd been missing," he explained, referring to the battalion of gorgeous, bare-chested ballerinos. "The dance was really just a very complicated Kama Sutra."

Whatevs, dude. Great art sustains a multitude of interpretations.

SFB has also just announced the repertory and performance schedule for its 82nd Repertory Season, the 2014-15 offerings that mark the 30th anniversary of artistic director Tomasson's tenure with the company. Tomasson said in a press statement, "This season, I'm delighted to present a wide range of works, from full-length favorites like Romeo & Juliet to revivals of acclaimed works such as Lambarena, The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude, and RAkU, as well as two world premieres." Those new works will be creations by Possokhov and corps de ballet dancer Myles Thatcher. Find all the details at


The Franz takes it to the streets of the Marina. Photo: Steven Underhill


It was a berry, berry good weekend for arts-loving Out There. The night after the Rite, OT was in the house as San Francisco Performances presented the Brad Mehldau Trio (Brad Mehldau , piano; Larry Grenadier , bass; and Jeff Ballard , drums) at the sparkling new SFJazz Center. Mehldau is one of the great contemporary jazz musicians, and his improvisatory genius really shines in the trio format. Mehldau's pianism was magnificent, a number's melodic lines as likely to be in his left hand as his right. Grenadier is a masterful bassist. Ballard worked his sticks and brushes subtly but with panache. Their 90-minute set went by in a flash, every ringing note and percussive punctuation clear as a bell in SFJazz's excellent acoustic.

Finally, in honor of springtime, we present this alarming photo by scene photographer Steven Underhill documenting the seasonal re-emergence of our old friend The Franz, here embodying our generation's version of White Punks on Dope – namely, High Tech on Meth. Here The Franz is bringing it all back home to the privileged high-tech folks strolling around Chestnut St. on a lovely April day. Mayhem in the Marina!


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