Program 3 at San Francisco Ballet is a rare trio of works that explores themes of longing, unfulfilled love, and connecting with the hereafter or the Totally Other. First on the bill is “The Kingdom of the Shades” from Act II of the very seldom produced La Bayadère. Based on the original choreography of Marius Petipa, the segment is regarded as one of the most glorious in all of classical ballet. In fact, it is an Olympian-type challenge. And for the occasion, the Company brought in legendary ballerina and choreographer Natalia Makarova – the keeper of the flame – to stage the scene and to imbue the dancers with its particular discipline and power. The opening night performance was elegant and refreshing. Conducted by Martin West, this portion of the score by Ludwig Minkus tugs at the heart in the same manner as the final scenes of Giselle and Swan Lake. The difference is that the action of the moment is an opium-induced hallucination….
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