Ballet San Jose in MasterPieces of American Ballet | Carla Escoda

February 23, 2015 5:11 AM

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In his warm-up speech on Saturday night, Ballet San Jose's new CEO, Alan Hineline, alerted the audience to the "superhuman level of athleticism" on display in the third and closing piece of the evening, Twyla Tharp's In the Upper Room. The company threw themselves into that electrifying work with great style and daring - a triumph from start to finish. Variously clad in Norma Kamali's chic, prison-striped pyjamas and sneakers, flaming red leotards with matching pointe shoes and socks, the dancers swam and jogged and shadow-boxed in and out of swathes of San Francisco fog, magnificently lit by Jennifer Tipton. Led by the stunning Alexsandra Meijer, spunky Amy Marie Briones, and the heart-stopping "bomb squad" of Cynthia Sheppard and Cindy Huang, the dancers rode Philip Glass' monumental score like big-wave surfers at Mavericks in Half Moon Bay.

Yet George Balanchine's majestic Theme and Variations, which opened the evening, and Jerome Robbins' iconic Fancy Free, sandwiched in between, make equally strenuous athletic demands - possibly even greater, as the dancers in these two pieces have to rip off one technical feat after another without ...

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