Rachel Howard

Humanity Restored

At the end of Batsheva Dance Company’s “Last Work,” a man sits with his back to us and his legs spread, apparently masturbating. Then he rotates to face us and we see he is cleaning a machine gun. Meanwhile, club music pounds, a frenzied crowd runs in circles, lights flash, streamers fly. Ian Robinson drags out a microphone and starts lashing it to the floor with masking tape. Then he screams.

The Sum of Its Parts

“Frankenstein” lumbered its way across the pond last weekend with much hoopla about its creator, Liam Scarlett, being the “youngest choreographer ever to have a full-length ballet commissioned by the Royal Ballet,” and advertisements emphasizing that this co-production between San Francisco Ballet and the Royal is “more a love story than a monster story.”

A Civil Affair

More than three decades at the helm of San Francisco Ballet has sharply attuned Helgi Tomasson to the political mood of his high society season opening gala attendees. Eight years ago, with the gala held one night after Barack Obama’s inauguration as president of the United States, Tomasson closed with George Balanchine’s “Stars and Stripes.” Last Thursday, on the eve of Donald Trump’s inauguration, the only red, white and blue to be found were the Bastille Day colors on Vanessa Zahorian’s sash in the pyrotechnic pas de deux from “Flames of Paris.”

The Loveliest Nutcracker

For us ballet diehards, the annual “Nutcracker” marathon performs double duty, filling companies’ coffers for the “real” season, and giving rising talents a chance to step out as one of those myriad Sugar Plum fairies in a mid-run matinee.

Shapes & Lines

It happened six days ago; it happened in a different age. An age in which we believed a racist, misogynist sociopath like Donald Trump could never be president. The audience at San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Theater rose immediately, en masse, and poured forth solemn, awed applause for the LINES Ballet dancers.

Classical, Revisited

I had the fortune to sit next to two very charming and chatty longtime Smuin fans for the company’s San Francisco run of its fall triple-bill. David and Dan, let’s call them, are in my experience representative of the 16-dancer troupe’s loyal base.
Rachel Howard

Rachel Howard

Rachel Howard is the former lead dance critic of the San Francisco Chronicle. Her dance writing has also appeared in the New York Times, the Hudson Review, Ballet Review, San Francisco Magazine and Dance Magazine. Her website is www.rachelhoward.com.