My review for San Francisco Classical Voice:
“This is for her,” another critic said to me Saturday during the rapturous standing ovation that greeted the U.S. premiere of John Neumeier’s The Little Mermaid at the San Francisco Ballet. My colleague was referring to Yuan Yuan Tan, the Chinese-born, exquisitely delicate ballerina, who for more than two hours had let herself be maimed, disfigured, pushed about in a wheelchair, rejected, and humiliated as the titular sea creature in Neumeier’s violent saga. And I believe my colleague was right, and not only because to see Tan surrender her elegance makes for great novelty. Rather, from her dejected stare to her wrenching, grotesquely twisted limbs, this was a performance of absolute commitment, and a career milestone.
But the crowd also gave a rousing cheer for Neumeier’s curtain call, and for good reason. The choreographer studied theater in his native Wisconsin but has conducted his artistic career in Germany for four decades (37 years as director of the Hamburg Ballet). His story ballet spectacles are popular in Europe though new to San Francisco, and The Little Mermaid makes an appealing introduction.”
That said, I have one serious reservation about this ballet, and agree with Allan Ulrich in the Chronicle that this is not Neumeier’s finest. Click here to keep reading.