The reviews of San Francisco Ballet keep rolling in from London. Raves for the dancers and for Tomasson?s leadership, and pans for Bolshoi director Alexey Ratmansky?s ?Carnival des Animaux.? I could not agree more. I was in the minority when this ballet premiered at SFB, sitting baffled as the crowd around me roared with glee. The work served its purpose, I suppose, as comic relief, but I don?t see it enduring as a repertory staple.
One of my favorite critics, the delightfully acerbic Clement Crisp, also singles out Katita Waldo, an elegant veteran ballerina often underappreciated here in San Francisco. Writing of Christopher Wheeldon?s ?Continuum?:
?I must salute the Klee-like way that the elegant Katita Waldo takes a line for a walk, and hail the duet for Muriel Maffre and Yury Posokhov, who are grown-ups in a grown-up situation, and wonderful. And so to the suicide-attempt that closed the evening. For inscrutable reasons SFB asked Alexey Ratmansky (now director of the Bolshoi Ballet) to realise Saint-Saens’ “Carnival of the Animals”. Lumpen dance; the musical wit of an enraged rhino, loathsome costuming, and a feeling that this was intended to show how silly ballet could be, made for something repulsive that was greeted with peals of merry laughter (especially when Fokine’s Swan was mauled).?
The Telegraph?s Ismene Brown admires the strength of SFB?s rep:
?San Francisco is collecting the hearts of great choreographers ? first Mark Morris and recently the English expatriate Christopher Wheeldon have fallen in love with its ballet company. This American company has also captured British affection on its increasingly frequent tours, with its warm-hearted spirit, an eager but disciplined corps de ballet and some remarkable and varied leading artists.
In this turbo-charged week in London, SFB are performing 11 ballets on three programmes, their opening one showing, for better and for worse, how widely they range. Starting with a charming Balanchine, then a simply magnificent Wheeldon, and ending with the tritest of animal ballets by the Bolshoi’s new director, Alexei Ratmansky, it runs the gamut of taste and admiration.?
And the Times? Debra Craine offers similar laurels, though alas a paid subscription is required to read her review online:
“For this, its third visit to London in five years, San Francisco Ballet has brought 11 ballets, including four UK premieres and two London premieres. It?s a most impressive lineup which puts British companies to shame.
Under Helgi Tomasson?s long-standing direction, the California company ? America?s third largest ? is a hotbed of creativity. And, as it showed at Sadler?s Wells on Monday night, the San Francisco troupe is also a glittering showcase for fine dancing.?