Look What I Found On YouTube—The SF Ballet Gala Spellbound

By Norm Robins

This 1 hour 42-minute Spellbound Gala was presented at the San Francisco Ballet’s 2020 opening night, January 16th, and what a gala it was. They opened with John Philip Sousa’s stirring Stars and Stripes. I have marched to his music. I’ve never seen anyone dance to it. Given the choice, march or dance, I would much rather watch dancing. Marching is so pedestrian. They did indeed dance, and, surprise surprise, they pulled it off beautifully. It set the evening’s up-tempo pace to get the audience stirred up for an evening of great fun and great dance.

Then they performed a series of vignettes going from classical to modern to experimental. Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, Swan Lake, and Jockeys dancing to Irish music. Nina Simone’s haunting jazz to Marius Pepita’s classical Le Corsaire. The experimental 5:49 and the classical Grand Pas Classique. The ended the performance with Diamonds, choreographed by George Balanchine with music by Peter Tchaikovsky.

And what a magnificent Finale it was. Tchaikovsky had that ability to make music both symphonic and danceable, no small feat. Diamonds is one third of the ballet Jewels. It is made up of Emeralds, Rubies, and Diamonds. In Emeralds all the costumes and sometimes the scenery are vivid green. Rubies is done in brilliant red. The costumes for Diamonds are white with lots of sparkly, brilliant objects sewn into them. It makes for a spectacular ending.

Spellbound can be seen only through July 6th, so if you want to watch it you had better do it soon. It can be seen at

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