The Silicon Valley Ballet is making waves, and not just in the Bay.
For the first time in its history, the company is touring internationally. Currently on an exhibition tour in Spain, the company has been delighting audiences everywhere from Seville to Santander—an exotic warm-up for its expansive and imaginative 2016 schedule.
After it arrives back home in San Jose this week, the company will kick off its spring season with a one weekend-only presentation of Cuban Pas De Deux, a show designed, musically arranged, and choreographed by the company’s artistic director, Jose Manuel Carreño. As a showcase of Silicon Valley Ballet’s 30-plus dancers and its vaulting ambition, Cuban Pas De Deux will reflect a range of classical ballet styles as well as Carreño’s own unique dance background at the Ballet Nacional de Cuba.
The company will be presenting three works this spring, with each piece representing a different style in the history of dance, as well as some unlikely experimentation, something Carreño is careful to reaffirm: “I want people to see all types of dancing.”
The first show with a full run is Glow-Stop. Originally premiering in 2006, the ballet is the brainchild of Boston Ballet’s resident choreographer, Jorma Elo. An abstract and kinetic show that fuses the music of Mozart and Philip Glass, Glow-Stop follows the style of many of Elo’s ballets: complicated—if not busy, experimental and brash.
The second show of the season is Prism, by internationally renowned choreographer and dancer Annabelle Lopez Ochoa. Set to a half-hour jazz improvisation from the ’70s by pianist Keith Jarrett, Prism is a multifaceted exposition of a moody, but beautiful, jazz epic.
Minus 16, which was featured in Silicon Valley Ballet’s 2014 season, will be the third and final show for the spring. A collection of vignettes by legendary Israeli choreographer and dancer, Ohad Naharin, Minus 16 is a mind-blowing display of synchronization and measured energy.
Over the course of the season, audiences will be treated to a near-compendium of dance history, says Carreño. “We start from classical and go all the way up to contemporary dance. I think it’s a very good variety of styles,” he says. “I want my dancers to explore everything they can.”
While currently bolstering its international reputation, the company was already more cosmopolitan than it might appear. Although a number of the dancers are locals, just as many are from places such as Cuba, Japan, China, Spain or Venezuela.
With a veteran dancer in the artistic director position, Silicon Valley Ballet has further sought to develop its art. Now in his third year, Carreño has seen the ups and downs of that process—but is more than confident in the abilities of his performers. That is one of the primary reasons the company is on a European tour.
“We really needed to travel and show the world this great product we have,” says Carreño, “We only used to dance in San Jose and now it’s an international company. I want people to see the kind of talent we have, both international and domestic.”
Yevgeny Onegin This tragic lyric opera follows the title character as he laments the choice to challenge his best friend to a duel and to abandon the affection of a woman who pledged her love to him. Feb 19-28.
Carmen Though author Georges Bizet died only a month after his opera’s debut, this masterwork about a duplicitous, gypsy seductress has been performed continuously for more than a century. Feb 13-28.
A Streetcar Named Desire The play that made Marlon Brando famous tracks Blanche DuBois, who moves from the country to her sister’s city apartment and slowly goes insane due to the immense cruelty of her brother-in-law. Apr 16-May 1.
Pictures at an Exhibition Italian composer Giampaolo Bisanti has compiled a complimentary set of symphonies—the polished grace of Faure followed by the intensity of two Russian composers that belong to the famed Mighty Handful. Mar 18-20.
Happy Anniversary! To celebrate 25 years of sustained sonic excellence, Michael Touchi has curated an orchestral extravaganza including Pizzicato by Vivian Fung that will revisit some of the finest pieces to debut in this ensemble’s storied history. Mar 12-13.
Palo Alto Chamber Orchestra
Past, Present and Future Led by long-tenured PACO director, Kris Yenney, this delightful evening of music looks forward and backward at the company’s career—performing pieces such as Boccherini’s “devilishly playful” La Casa del Diavolo. Mar 12.
Piano Recital United Nations honorary medal-winner and renowned teacher/performer, Ms. Kurtova, will presents her distinguished students—aged 7 to 18—who will perform pieces from Mozart, Mendelssohn and Rachmaninoff. Feb 13.
Jon Nakamatsu Stanford’s lauded musical puffers will collaborate with one of the finest pianists in the world—Jon Nakamatsu who is the rare American winner of the gold medal at Van Cliburn International Piano Competition. Dinkelspiel Concert Hall. Feb 13.
Pan Asian Music Festival To celebrate Asian culture and the Chinese New Year, Stanford has brought the Forbidden City Chamber Orchestra from China to play alongside local specialists of the broad Asian sonic diaspora. Bing Concert Hall. Feb 19-20.
The Silk Road Ensemble Founded by Yo-Yo Ma, this varied ensembled hails from over 20 countries. They perform on an array of instruments and have been marrying classical and world music for 15 years. Bing Concert Hall. Feb 24.
The Choir of St. John’s College This choir hails from a college within Cambridge University and has existed since 1511. They rank among of the world’s finest collegiate choirs and are exemplary for their distinctive “continental” sound. Cambridge Memorial Church. Mar 29-30.
Bolero Silicon Valley New York choreographer Larry Keigwin dazzled audiences with his colorful tribute to the intricacies of New York City with Bolero NYC and has given other communities his flamboyant treatment—Silicon Valley being the most recent. Bing Concert Hall. Apr 2-3.
Takacs Quartet w/ Garrick Ohlsson To tackle Elgar’s Piano Quintet, the thoroughly beloved and oft-awarded quartet will team up with champion pianist Garrick Ohlsson who became internationally renowned after snagging first prize in the 1970 Chopin International Piano Competition. Bing Concert Hall. Apr 10.
Pianist Murray Perahia Perahia just completed a tour of Asia with the well-regarded Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, and at this show, the expressive soloist will be just absolutely wailing on the ivories, interpreting the masterpieces of legendary composers. Bing Concert Hall. Apr 14.
Trio Cleonice Featuring a cellist, violist and pianist, this trio recently won the John Lad Prize and will be performing pieces by Haydn, Davidovsky and Mendelssohn as they continue the proud tradition of chamber music. Bing Concert Hall. Apr 17.
Axis Dance Company Hailing from Oakland, Axis Dance Company employs dancers with and without disabilities and they will be performing “to go again,” a piece that considers the resilience of American veterans in the face of their many challenges. Bing Concert Hall. Apr 23.
Midori The stunning Japanese-American violinist made her bold debut when she was only 11 at the New York Philharmonic in 1982. Since, she has continued to dazzle with her masterful command and potent emotion. Bing Concert Hall. Apr 24.
Philharmonia Baroque Returning for their fourth season, this “premier period-instrument ensemble” will tackle compositions of the Classical and Baroque periods by Beethoven and Mendelssohn. Bing Concert Hall. Apr 27.
Listings by John Flynn