San Francisco Classical Voice asked me to review:

“No one enjoys breaking the news that San Francisco Ballet artistic director Helgi Tomasson’s production of Swan Lake, unveiled last year, has serious flaws. After all, even a distantly faithful combination of the Tchaikovsky score and what has been handed down of the 1895 Ivanov/Petipa choreography is practically guaranteed to cast a spell on a general audience — who wants to kill that buzz? Fortunately, a singular ballerina in the dual role of Odette and Odile can make even seasoned ballet fans forget this staging’s shortcomings and walk out in a swoon. And fortunately, such a transcendent interpretation was delivered Wednesday night by Sarah Van Patten.

Van Patten gave one performance in the role last season and is among five casts this year (she dances again Saturday); I saw all six casts in 2009, and Wednesday’s show confirmed Van Patten as outstanding. Her Swan Queen Odette is tragic in a self-contained way — rather than saying to Prince Siegfried, “I’m a needy victim, help me,” her regretful and womanly strength telegraphs, “Can’t you see I’m doomed? It’s impossible between us.” That impossibility makes you understand why Siegfried would then desire her all the more ardently. And because Van Patten’s searing Black Swan, Odile, presents a different kind of romantic impossibility, taunting and teasing, you then understand Siegfried’s universal dilemma: How do you tell the difference between love and seduction?”

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