It started with the best, in Program 1: Twin brothers groomed by John Neumeier’s Hamburg Ballet—Jiri Bubenicek, who progressed from dancer to dance maker, and Otto Bubenicek, who became Jiri’s stage designer. Their first creation for SF Ballet, Fragile Vessels, is set to Rachmaninov’s well known, well loved Piano Concerto No 2, and is a master piece in modern classicism, full of emotion, grace and invention. The outstanding musicality of this choreographer translated the stirring, romantic music into controlled but fluidly shifting groupings of his 26 dancers, giving them constantly surprising, beautifully sculptural body expression.
There was none of the extreme twisting and torqueing à la William Forsythe, and yet Bubenicek achieves the same creative re-sculpting of the classical body, with bold off-balances, inward-turned counter-moves and acrobatic swing-lifts that extend to exciting landings, sometimes going right into staggered, gently syncopated collapses of bodies to the floor. It was the kind of inventive movement that you never saw coming, and nothing was overdone.