San Francisco Ballet brings California dancing to London

Sep 20, 2012

This sunny, likeable US dance company makes staging new works seem like a breeze

San Francisco Ballet

What you need to know
San Francisco Ballet is performing three mixed programmes featuring classic and recent works at Sadler's Wells, London.
SF Ballet is the oldest professional ballet company in America, and one of the leading companies in the world. It is currently under the artistic directorship of choreographer Helgi Tomasson.  
The three programmes include George Balanchine's 1956 Divertimento No. 15, Edwaard Liang's Symphonic Dances, Christopher Wheeldon's Number Nine and Ghosts; Mark Morris' Beaux and two works by Ashley Page. Check website for details. Runs until 23 September.

What the critics like
A season could not begin more gloriously than with Balanchine's Divertimento No. 15, performed here "bright with California's sunshine", says Clement Crisp in the Financial Times. "Throughout the evening, the dancing of artists such as Vanessa Zahorian, Sofiane Sylve, Davit Karapetyan, was a special pleasure."
Helgi Tomasson has made it the company's mission to keep the San Francisco repertoire as fresh as possible, says Debra Craine in The Times. Aside from Divertimento, most of the pieces performed are less than two years old. Christopher Wheeldon's work is a highlight, from the "short, sassy, sharp and smart" Number Nine, to the "vaporous rapture" of Ghosts.
Many ballet companies struggle to stage new works, but for San Francisco Ballet it seems like a breeze, says Zoe Anderson in The Independent.
What they don't like
We salute this celebration of ballet as a contemporary art, and not a heritage relic, says Lyndsey Winship in the Evening Standard. "But where's the zing?" Instead of "feisty American verve and pinpoint precision, we get laid-back Californian niceness". This company of talented individuals needs "the right choreography to dazzle".

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