The Mariinsky Ballet and Orchestra make a rare Bay Area appearance this week, with six performances of one of their signature productions, La Bayadere. Cal Performances‘ new Artistic and Executive Director Jeremy Geffen says they’re “the sort of iconic company that Cal Performances is able to present better than anyone else.” The shows are tomorrow night through Sunday at Zellerbach Hall.

There’s more information at the Cal Performances website.

“This is a piece that they have taken around the world, that they have been performing in this same production for decades. And when you see them perform it, you’re seeing decades worth of tradition that is layered on centuries worth of other traditions.” Jeremy Geffen began in his role in April, after a dozen years working at Carnegie Hall. Before that, he was planning programs for the New York Philharmonic and St. Louis Symphony. He had studied as a violist, but an injury forced him to take the time that would have been dedicated to practicing his instrument, and redirect it toward learning the chamber and orchestral repertoire as a programmer. “Programming gave me a chance to put that arcane knowledge to real-world use. It’s a very specialized area, and if you show some talent for it, you get picked up pretty quickly.” He notes that one difference between Carnegie Hall and Cal Performances is that Zellerbach Hall has the capacity (with wings and fly area for sets) to accommodate dance and drama in ways his old home couldn’t. “I spent the last 12 years as Director of Artistic Planning, and then Senior Director and Artistic Adviser for Carnegie Hall, planning every aspect of Carnegie Hall’s season, which is 99.5% musical.” Another difference is the focus on education. “This is such an unusual atmosphere in the performing arts world. The context of this presenting organization, of Cal Performances, on the campus of one of the great research university in the world, creates a level of intellectual curiosity and a spirit of discovery that I don’t think you find in many other places.”