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Helgi Tomasson

Ready, Set, Ballet

Sure, Nutcracker is nice—for kids, nostalgia buffs, and balletophobes especially. But this weekend, ballet season begins in earnest when SF Ballet gears up for 2011 with the full-length classic Giselle (though Feb. 12). Premiered in 1841 and restaged here by artistic director Helgi Tomasson in 1999, the two-act ballet is romance personified: Man’s betrayal does girlfriend in, but girlfriend forgives him from the great beyond. If you want something more modern, wait for Program 2 (Feb.

Yuan Yuan Tan Carries New Swan Lake

Furs, up-dos and arm-in-arm walking were in full force at the War Memorial Opera House Saturday, as ballet-goers weathered a blustery evening for the world premiere of Helgi Tomasson's revamped production of Swan Lake. That the world-renowned San Francisco Ballet has taken on what might be considered the ultimate ballet is something to be excited about – and the buzz was palatable.

Tomasson has been quoted to say that "it's impossible not to like Swan Lake," and this production, with it's updated set (which borrows architectural elements from San Francisco's City Hall, the Louvre and the War Memorial Opera House), proved that to be true.

The Nutcracker Debuts

Hundreds of little girls donning party dresses, tutus and patent leather shoes descended upon the War Memorial Opera House Thursday night to see young Clara make her way through a magical world of mice and soliders, Arabians and Russians, Spaniards and Chinese, in the San Francisco Ballet's opening night of Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker.

Even five years after Artistc Director Helgi Tomasson's makeover of the production, the set and costume design are still breakthaking. The Chronicle's Rachel Howard proclaimed the production "one of the best "Nutcrackers" in the country and, by my estimation, the most visually elegant."

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