San Francisco Ballet stages a special performance on Sunday evening, April 17, as the Company bids farewell to three principal dancers of long standing – Joan Boada, Pascal Molat and Gennadi Nedvigin. These will be the final performances of Joan Boada and Pascal Molat as members of the Company, while audiences still have an opportunity to see Gennadi Nedvigin in San Francisco Ballet’s production of Onegin which opens on April 30.
The Farewell Celebration features a selection of excerpts from works specifically chosen to highlight what Artistic Director Helgi Tomasson refers to as the dancers’ “unique artistry and achievements”. The ballets include Tomasson’s Romeo & Juliet, Concerto Grosso and Two Bits; the trio section from Possokhov’s Magrittomania, a solo from Wayne McGregor’s Borderlands, Renato Zanella’s Alles Walzer and Kobborg’s Les Lutins.
For Cuban-born Joan Boada “the biggest challenge as a male dancer is to figure out how far you’re going to go in your career.” He then added: “For us Cubans, dancing is our life”, and since he comes from a family of ex-dancers, the decision couldn’t have been too difficult to make! He danced with the National Ballet of Cuba, Le Jeune Ballet, The Australian Ballet, and Royal Ballet of Flanders before joining San Francisco Ballet in 1999. He says that the repertoire in Cuba is mainly classical, and when he left, he was introduced to the work of choreographers such as Macmillan, Bejart and Cranko. At San Francisco Ballet, he says, he “has been exposed to the best ballets ever” – having danced in works like Don Quixote, La Bayadère and Romeo & Juliet, and he was also introduced to the work of Balanchine. Other works in his repertoire include ballets by Sir Frederick Ashton, James Kudelka, Mark Morris, Alexei Ratmansky, Jerome Robbins, Liam Scarlett, Helgi Tomasson and Christopher Wheeldon. In 2003, he received the Isadora Duncan Dance Award for Best Ensemble performance with Lorena Feijoo in Tomasson/Possokhov’s Don Quixote.
Having trained at the Paris Opéra Ballet School, Pascal Molat danced with a number of companies in his native France, as well as with Royal Ballet of Wallonie, Royal Ballet of Flanders, and Jean-Christophe Maillot’s Les Ballets de Monte Carlo, which he says was more contemporary than the others. Indeed, Maillot’s Casse Noisette Circus was a revelation, and Molat was sensational in the role of the Nutcracker. “I just wanted to express myself in as many ways as I could,” says Molat, “and San Francisco Ballet was the perfect place to do that with the repertoire that we have here.” The wide range of choreographers in whose works he has performed include George Balanchine, John Cranko, Jorma Elo, William Forsythe, Sir Kenneth MacMillan, Wayne McGregor, John Neumeier, Paul Taylor, Helgi Tomasson and Hans van Manen. He has danced in a number of full-length productions at SF Ballet, including the role of Mercutio – a particular favorite of his – in the 2015 film of Tomasson’s Romeo & Juliet, part of the inaugural season of Lincoln Center at the Movies: Great American Dance.
Gennadi Nedvigin, who hails from Rostov in Russia, trained at the Bolshoi School, following which he performed as a soloist with Le Jeune Ballet de France and Moscow Renaissance Ballet. It was during a tour to San Francisco with the Moscow company, he says, that he got an offer from Helgi Tomasson, and he joined SF Ballet as a soloist in 1997, becoming a principal dancer in 2000. In his long association with the Company, Nedvigin has performed roles by choreographers such as Lar Lubovitch, Sir Frederick Ashton, Hans Van Manen, Jerome Robbins and Christopher Wheeldon – and in addition to having many roles created on him, he has danced principal roles in major works such as Tomasson’s Romeo & Juliet, Swan Lake, The Sleeping Beauty and Giselle, Cranko’s Onegin, Morris’ Sylvia, Tomasson/Possokhov’s Don Quixote and Balanchine’s Coppélia.
Nedvigin’s other achievements include winning the Erik Bruhn Prize at the 5th International Competition in 1999 and an Isadora Duncan Award for Best Ensemble Performance in William Forsythe’s The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude. He has been a guest teacher for Company class at SF Ballet, served as ballet master for Possokhov’s Classical Symphony for the Company’s international tours, and staged Possokhov works at Atlanta Ballet and Romanian National Ballet. He leaves San Francisco Ballet to take up his appointment as artistic director of Atlanta Ballet as of the beginning of the 2016-17 season.
San Francisco Ballet’s Farewell Celebration takes place at the San Francisco War Memorial and Performing Arts Center on April 17 at 7pm. For tickets, visit sfballet.org/farewell.
San Francisco Ballet press release
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