CriticalDance Forum

San Francisco Ballet: 2010 Season
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Author:  Francis Timlin [ Sat Mar 20, 2010 12:47 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: San Francisco Ballet: 2010 Season

Chloe Veltman discusses "The Little Mermaid" in the New York Times.

NY Times

Author:  DavidH [ Sat Mar 20, 2010 7:37 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: San Francisco Ballet: 2010 Season

Some reworkings of the children’s canon — the musical “Wicked” (loosely based on “The Wizard of Oz”)


Wicked (the musical) is based on the best-selling novel Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire!

Author:  Toba Singer [ Sun Mar 21, 2010 2:48 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: San Francisco Ballet: 2010 Season

Wine is not enough in the press room. There should be post-traumatic stress counseling available to critics who see the "fourth wall" broken by a differently-abled fish diving after an errant golf ball.

Author:  ksneds [ Sun Mar 21, 2010 5:48 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: San Francisco Ballet: 2010 Season

It's nice to see the NY Times covering events out west, but Veltman could have done some more research. She's a bit vague, but to be clear, the ballet was created for the Royal Danish Ballet. So the world premiere was not in Hamburg.

I am curious to see how the ballet is received in the US. I've only seen a few excerpts in rehearsal, but Danes grow up with the HC Andersen tales and the Danish audiences see quite a bit of Neumeier (Romeo & Juliet, A Midsummer Night's Dream etc), so his style is quite familiar. In thus US, most folks are likely to only know the Disneyfied versions. I've read some of Andersen in Danish, and he's much better and much darker in the original.

Author:  bcx [ Sun Mar 21, 2010 8:50 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: San Francisco Ballet: 2010 Season

I just saw Sarah Van Patten's Mermaid (her debut in the role) in this afternoon's performance of The Little Mermaid. I'll leave it to dance critics to give you their analysis, but for me it was one of the most memorable ballet performances I've seen. Sarah Van Patten was incomparable in her raw vulnerability and deep expressiveness, and this seemed to inspire the entire company’s passionate, focused performance. This afternoon only confirmed what some of us have long suspected: SFB is at its best in contemporary ballet. Critics who prefer companies that specialize in classical and neo-classical ballet frequently express disappointment in aspects of SFB (the Mariinsky, the Royal Ballet, and NYCB—companies I love--have strengths and traditions which are not really SFB’s); but very few companies bring the discipline, passion and commitment to contemporary ballet that SFB does.

I’ve been told tickets are already scarce for this short run (only 7 more performances) of the US premier of Neumeier’s brilliant choreography, scenic, costume and lighting design (he himself took a bow to loud cheers at the end of today’s performance, warmly embraced Sarah, and turned and applauded the company; they applauded him back. It was not an exercise in politeness.)

Author:  bcx [ Mon Mar 22, 2010 4:04 am ]
Post subject:  Re: San Francisco Ballet: 2010 Season

A seven-minute clip of John Neumeier rehearsing SFB in The Little Mermaid, with comments by him, Yuan Yuan Tan, Sarah Van Patten, Tiit Helimets, David Karapetyan, et al. is at: ... 0844842001

Author:  Francis Timlin [ Mon Mar 22, 2010 1:18 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: San Francisco Ballet: 2010 Season

Allan Ulrich reviews "The Little Mermaid" in the San Francisco Chronicle.

SF Chronicle

Janos Gereben in the San Francisco Examiner.

SF Examiner

Rachel Howard in San Francisco Classical Voice.

SF Classical Voice

Sean Martinfield in the San Francisco Sentinel.

SF Sentinel

Ann Murphy in the San Jose Mercury News.

SJ Mercury News

Author:  RaHir [ Mon Mar 22, 2010 4:17 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: San Francisco Ballet: 2010 Season

I got a chance to see TLM yesterday afternoon with Sarah Van Patten as the mermaid, and I was just floored. Simply amazing.

Author:  Toba Singer [ Mon Mar 22, 2010 7:54 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: San Francisco Ballet: 2010 Season

And not to be overlooked is Rita Felciano's prescient analysis found here: ... ing-1.html

Author:  ksneds [ Mon Mar 22, 2010 9:42 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: San Francisco Ballet: 2010 Season

Though I wish I could see this ballet, glad that SFB has been honored with the North American premiere. Neumeier really puts an emphasis on characterization & mime - he often names each and every character in a ballet - and I don't think any of the companies on the east coast could have done the dance-acting justice. SFB sounds like it has just the right blend of technical and artistic and acting talent to carry off Neumeier.

I will admit that as much as I love his ballets, Neumeier can tend to go overboard on length. His Midsummers' is nearly 3 hours long (if my memory is correct), and his Romeo & Juliet and The Seagull are both fairly lengthy. But brilliant.

A bit of background, which may help provide some context for the ballet...

The ballet was commissioned as part of the big HC Andersen anniversary in Denmark back in 2005-2006, and helped to inaugurate the new Opera House in Copenhagen. As I said, I've only seen fragments in rehearsal, but it must have been quite amazing at the Operaen, as the theatre has an integral link to water. Not only does it overlook the harbour in Copenhagen, but it's so close that you can walk down to water's edge during intermission, and most people travel to the theatre by water taxi. Hard to find a better place for a ballet about a Mermaid!

The ballet, I think, was - in part - Neumeier's farewell gift to Kenneth and Marie-Pierre Greve, who played the Prince and the Mermaid on opening night. Greve didn't leave to take over the Finnish Ballet for another two years, but it was probably clear in 2005 that The Little Mermaid was the last chance for Neumeier to create a role on him. And the history between Greve and Neumeier went way back - pretty sure that Greve spent a year or two at the Hamburg Ballet before he returned to the RDB. I'm pretty sure that the concept of having the prince play golf is something that was inspired by Greve. Greve's father was a golf pro, and Greve is quite a talented golfer himself. I seem to remember people taking practice swings with the golf club in the studios...

Both of the original princes (Greve, Blangstrup) were of the tall, blond Danish stereotype, whilst the Mermaids were a bit different - Greve is petite and dark haired, Grinder somewhat taller and blond. The original poet was character dancer Mogens Boesen, and I think Erling Eliasson was second cast. Mogens is quite different physically from Riggins, but I can see how they both fit into that character (and they both danced together in the company back in the 1980s). If anyone's interested in Riggins, I interviewed him a few years back for BDm. The original SeaWitches were dancers with big personalities, but tending towards a stockier build - Jean-Lucien Massot and Morten Eggert (who, at 31, has already developed into a mime and character artist of the very highest quality).

You can see press images from the RDB run here: ... x?pgl=true

Author:  DavidH [ Tue Mar 23, 2010 12:02 am ]
Post subject:  Re: San Francisco Ballet: 2010 Season

GREAT background info Ksneds.

With all due respect Toba I find Felciano's review as cliche ridden as she finds the score! :evil:

Author:  Francis Timlin [ Tue Mar 23, 2010 12:56 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: San Francisco Ballet: 2010 Season

Becca Hirschman in the SF Appeal.

SF Appeal

Author:  bcx [ Mon Mar 29, 2010 1:37 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: San Francisco Ballet: 2010 Season

Thanks for the background and photos from the RDB production, ksneds.

I was struck by the warmth with which John Neumeier and Sarah Van Patten embraced on stage after her debut as the Mermaid last Sunday. I didn't know how far back the two of them went until I stumbled on this tidbit from Wikipedia:

" In 2000 at age 15, Sarah Van Patten joined the Royal Danish Ballet as an apprentice, where John Neumeier cast her as Juliet in his Romeo & Juliet. Soon after, she was promoted to the rank of corps dancer, one of the youngest corps dancers ever invited to the Royal Danish Ballet in its 200-year history. During her corps year, she re-created her role in Romeo & Juliet and originated a soloist role in Peter Martins’ Hallelujah Junction. Sarah joined San Francisco Ballet as a soloist dancer in 2002 and was promoted to the rank of principal dancer in 2007."

Looking forward to seeing her Juliet ten years later (this May).

Author:  JimVanPatten [ Mon Mar 29, 2010 4:03 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: San Francisco Ballet: 2010 Season

For anyone wondering, Sarah left a bit of herself in the Mermaid role this past week. She has black & blue knuckles on both hands, a shiner over one eye, whiplash, a busted lip, scraped knees & elbows and too many bruises to count. Her claim to fame, however, comes from the stage crew. She knocked two fairly burly crew members around who were holding the door closed in the Act II opening scene, she punched three holes in the plywood, and she left a pool of blood on the floor in the final scene, complements of the busted lip. The crew now gives Sarah a wide berth in the hallways of the Opera House.

Author:  ksneds [ Mon Mar 29, 2010 5:59 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: San Francisco Ballet: 2010 Season

Phew. And I thought Onegin was brutal on the dancers.

Interesting tidbit on Sarah and the RDB. Certainly there have been more than a few 16 year old corp members.

However, I would note that, at least today, you rarely see aspirants who are younger than 16 because of regulations regarding schooling. Students in the ballet school must finish Year 9 before they can become an aspirant, and due to the timing of cut off dates for school entrance (and the late age most Scandinavians start school), students tend to be 16 by the time they are ready to be an aspirant. This means that student with birthdays later in the year often have to remain in the ballet school for an additional year - a good example of this is Thomas Lund who became an aspirant a year after Mads Blangstrup even though they were born in the same year. It is possible for someone to finish their schooling earlier, but that would be very difficult once a student is in the Royal Ballet School, so the acceleration would have to happen when a child is quite young.

That's not to say that students don't end up dancing corp roles (besides the traditional children's roles)- girls in the most senior class will fill in when they need additional bodies - so you will get 14 and 15 year old students on the stage from time to time. Also, in recent years, aspirants generally have not been accepted into the company until they've been an aspirant for at least a year, if not two. But that, I think, isn't due to regulation, just to the decisions of the artistic director.

And, this would not apply to foreign students who are doing independent study or join the company as an aspirant.

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