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.
Yuan Yuan Tan and Damian Smith (Von Rothbart). Courtesy of the SF Ballet
Though Scenic and Costume Designer Jonathan Fensom's (this is his first ballet production) craggy lake rocks, silhouetted flying swans and spot-on costumery of the evil Von Rothbart (think oil spill meets goth) were impressive, it was principal dancer Yuan Yuan Tan who carried the show. Her performance as the cursed Odette-Odile, Swan Queen, could move even the non-ballet enthusiast to tears. To say that it looked like she had no bones in her body would of course be a cliché, but also one of the only ways to accurately describe her graceful back bends, fluttering swan arms and water-like fluidity. In short, she was breathtaking.
Yuan Yuan Tan and Tiit Helimets. Courtesy of the SF Ballet.
See her and the performance through March 1st. http://www.sfballet.org/