The first (short) reviews of San Francisco Ballet?s London engagement are in. Judith Mackrell in the Guardian:
?As director of San Francisco Ballet, Helgi Tomasson has started to acquire an aura of infallibility, his expertise in laying down repertory, and in balancing great evenings of dance is held in envy by the rest of the profession.
Certainly his choices for the company’s opening programme make for an unusually adroit mix, setting the frisky grace notes and velvet elegance of Balanchine’s Square Dance against the potent secrets of Christopher Wheeldon’s Continuum and the whimsical romp of Alexei Ratmanksy’s Carnaval des Animaux.?
And Zoe Anderson in the Independent:
?San Francisco Ballet opened their Sadler’s Wells season on buoyant form. This is an outgoing company, crisp and characterful. They dance a varied repertory with confident style.?
For anyone in London wanting to study up before attending, I recommend Paul Parish?s colorful preview on the website Ballet.co:
?Tomasson as director has turned a company that used to sacrifice classical equilibrium for effects which brought down the house, where principal male dancers did sloppy glissades, into a beautifully disciplined cadre of musician-dancers. His own ballets, while not great choreography, are finely crafted, often beautiful works that give the dancers wonderful chances to shine. His Concerto Grosso displays five men from the lower ranks who look like principal dancers in this ballet. And his new Bach piano-concerto ballet looks like the music sounds – it gleams in the dark (especially when leBlanc dances it).
The least of the current dancers are technically adroit, and they are quick studies – they have to be, they don’t get enough rehearsal time. (No American company does, really.) These dancers can execute the most complex transfers of weight and the trickiest rhythms without loss of poise; they can show the transitions cleanly while phrasing the steps with a grand sweep. They share a similar talent and gusto for movement and hunger to perform, which makes for consistency of spirit. On the other hand, they don’t have a consistent basic style. It shows least in new works, where the choreographer has coached them, and the details are freshest in their imaginations. But… Head positions are not the same throughout, nor are backs, arms, shoulders, hands, not even feet, and certainly not attack. The roster is packed with fantastic dancers – they come from all over the world (especially Russia, Spain, Cuba, and France). They come in all shapes and sizes and colors, and do not by any means have the same training. The weaknesses of the company show in ballets that require character, epoch, nationality in the background; we have Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty, La Sylphide, Don Quixote, Giselle, but only a couple of corps dancers can make convincing peasants (except in a splendid new version of Sylvia by Mark Morris, who has put the qualities he wanted into the steps themselves).?