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SFB 2010 The Little MermaidCasts and reviews


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#1 PeggyR

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Posted 16 March 2010 - 07:09 PM

Casts for the entire run of the U.S. premiere of John Neumeier's 'The Little Mermaid'.

Here's a link to a 7 1/2 minute preview, including rehearsal footage plus interviews with Neumeier and some of the dancers. At about 3:43 Sarah Van Patten mentions that she, Yuan Yuan Tan and Lorena Feijoo all dance the Mermaid; however, unfortunately Feijoo doesn't show up on the cast list.

Note a couple of guest appearances by Lloyd Riggins, former principal dancer with the RDB and Hamburg Ballet (3/20 and 3/23).
    
Opening Night, Saturday, March 20, 2010, 8pm
THE LITTLE MERMAID
Choreographer: John Neumeier


Mermaid: Yuan Yuan Tan*
Prince: Tiit Helimets*
Princess: Sarah Van Patten*
Poet: Lloyd Riggins^
Sea Witch: Davit Karapetyan*
    
Sunday, March 21, 2010, 2pm
Mermaid: Sarah Van Patten*
Prince: Pierre-François Vilanoba*
Princess: Vanessa Zahorian*
Poet: Damian Smith*
Sea Witch: Garen Scribner*
    
Tuesday, March 23, 2010, 8pm
Mermaid: Yuan Yuan Tan
Prince: Tiit Helimets
Princess: Sarah Van Patten
Poet: Lloyd Riggins^
Sea Witch: Davit Karapetyan
    
Wednesday, March 24, 2010, 7:30pm
Mermaid: Sarah Van Patten
Prince: Pierre-François Vilanoba
Princess: Vanessa Zahorian
Poet: Pascal Molat*
Sea Witch: Garen Scribner  
 
Thursday, March 25, 2010, 8pm
Mermaid: Yuan Yuan Tan
Prince: Tiit Helimets
Princess: Sarah Van Patten
Poet: Damian Smith
Sea Witch: Davit Karapetyan
    
Friday, March 26, 2010, 8pm
Mermaid: Sarah Van Patten
Prince: Pierre-François Vilanoba
Princess: Vanessa Zahorian
Poet: Pascal Molat
Sea Witch: Garen Scribner
    
Saturday, March 27, 2010, 2pm
Mermaid: Sarah Van Patten
Prince: Pierre-François Vilanoba
Princess: Vanessa Zahorian
Poet: Pascal Molat
Sea Witch: Garen Scribner
    
Saturday, March 27, 2010, 8pm
Mermaid: Yuan Yuan Tan
Prince: Tiit Helimets
Princess: Sarah Van Patten
Poet: Damian Smith
Sea Witch: Davit Karapetyan
    
Sunday, March 28, 2010, 2pm
Mermaid: Yuan Yuan Tan
Prince: Tiit Helimets
Princess: Sarah Van Patten
Poet: Damian Smith
Sea Witch: Davit Karapetyan

* Denotes premiere in role
^ Denotes guest artist
Casting subject to change

#2 kitcat

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Posted 21 March 2010 - 11:27 AM

I did not see this ballet, but I received a call from my sister last night who happened to be in San Francisco this week for continuing medical education. She was walking back to the hotel from last night's opening performance of SFB's Little Mermaid and she felt she had to call me because she was quite disturbed. She told me that Yuan Yuan Tan was amazing, but the ballet was "awful". She felt like she had been trapped inside "The Scream" (yes, the painting) for two and a half hours. Apparently even the music was disturbing.

My sister does not go regularly to the ballet, but she enjoys a treat occasionally to see good ballet when it is available to her. I was really surprised by her reaction as the pictures that SF Ballet put out for media purposes looked very beautiful. I looked to see if there were any reviews about this production and I see that others feel it is dark and disturbing also. Too bad, because it looked very beautiful.

http://www.nytimes.c...1sfculture.html

Is it common for the San Francisco newspapers to not review the openings of major productions of their major ballet company? I find it surprising that I'm not able to find a local review. Did anyone else see this performance and what did you think of it?

#3 Waelsung

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Posted 21 March 2010 - 02:32 PM

Does anybody know if there are any plan to record this for a DVD release?

#4 PeggyR

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Posted 21 March 2010 - 02:54 PM

The San Francisco newspapers (such as they are) do review opening nights (25 words or less it seems; still, it's better than nothing), but since the opening was on Saturday, the reviews probably won't show up until Monday in the print media, although something may be on-line before the morning papers hit the streets. Also, check the NYTimes after 9 pm PDT; sometimes Alastair Macaulay reviews major openings outside of New York. Also you can Google Paul Parish at the Bay Area Reporter; I don't know if/when he'll post a review there, but if he does, he always has insightful comments. (Sorry, but I can't do links at the moment; I'm having internet connectivity problems -- it's taken nearly an hour to get this posted).

I'd heard it was disturbing; there were numerous warnings to subscribers, et al, that this was definitely NOT for children.

Waelsung: Didn't I read somewhere that the Hamburg Ballet released a DVD of this? Can't look it up right now until my connection stabilizes :)

#5 Brioche

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Posted 21 March 2010 - 03:55 PM

All one has to do is research the origins of the story by H.C. Andersen to understand that Disney (who most assume invented the story) didn't tell his story.

And I quote:

The Little Mermaid, longing for the prince and an eternal soul, eventually visits the Sea Witch, who sells her a potion that gives her legs, in exchange for her tongue (as the Little Mermaid has the most intoxicating voice in the world). Drinking the potion will make her feel as if a sword is being passed through her, yet when she recovers she will have two beautiful legs, and will be able to dance like no human has ever danced before. However, it will constantly feel like she is walking on sharp swords, and her feet will bleed most terribly. In addition, she will only get a soul if the prince loves her and marries her, for then a part of his soul will flow into her. Otherwise, at dawn on the first day after he marries another woman, the Little Mermaid will die brokenhearted and disintegrate into sea foam.


The Little Mermaid cannot bring herself to kill the sleeping prince lying with his bride and, as dawn breaks, throws herself into the sea. Her body dissolves into foam, but instead of ceasing to exist, she feels the warmth of the sun; she has turned into a spirit, a daughter of the air. The other daughters of the air tell her she has become like them because she strove with all her heart to gain an eternal soul. She will earn her own soul by doing good deeds, and she will eventually rise up into the kingdom of God.



#6 Waelsung

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Posted 21 March 2010 - 04:01 PM

Waelsung: Didn't I read somewhere that the Hamburg Ballet released a DVD of this? Can't look it up right now until my connection stabilizes :)


Peggy: I can't find any evidence of it whatsoever. Would really appreciate any leads if such a DVD does indeed exist.

#7 kitcat

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Posted 21 March 2010 - 06:22 PM

Thanks for the info Peggy, I will keep looking for the review. I'd love to hear what other people who saw the performance thought. I suspect my sister was looking to go see a lovely, beautiful performance of the SF Ballet and was totally unprepared for the type of ballet it was. Probably no warning whatsoever since she was from out of town. I had not heard that it was dark either.

It reminds me when I took my young daughter with a bunch of other ballet moms and their girls to see Kings of the Dance a few years ago. We really wanted to see Ethan Stiefel and I was shocked when I ended up watching a creepy performance of The Lesson with a young ballet student being murdered on stage. I simply wasn't prepared for that and it ruined the rest of my evening and couldn't enjoy the rest of the performance. I certainly wouldn't have taken our girls to it had I known. Warnings are good, I watch for them now.

Waelsung, there's a mention in that NY Times review that states "viewing of the DVD of a November 2009 Hamburg performance shows". Don't know if that helps your hunt at all, it may have been a privately filmed DVD for all I know. Good luck with your search.

#8 PeggyR

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Posted 21 March 2010 - 07:13 PM

Let's hope this only gets posted once! Sorry about the triple post earlier; at times I can only hold on to a connection for about three minutes and it didn't look like the earlier attempts to post got through.

Finally managed to get to Chloe Veltman's article in the NYTimes mentioned by Kitcat:

"ARTS
By CHLOE VELTMAN
Published: March 19, 2010
For audiences weaned on the peppy 1989 Walt Disney animated film version of “The Little Mermaid,” Mr. Neumeier’s relentlessly bleak take on Hans Christian Andersen’s 1837 fairy tale ... may come across as a bit of a shock. .....cavorting crabs and singing sea urchins were nowhere to be found, as a viewing of the DVD of a November 2009 Hamburg performance shows."


According to the SFB program notes, if sounds as if there are two versions:

"World Premiere: April 15, 2005—The Royal Danish Ballet Copenhagen, Denmark
Hamburg Version: July 1, 2007—The Hamburg Ballet Hamburg, Germany 
San Francisco Ballet Premiere: March 20, 2010 War Memorial Opera House; San Francisco, California
Music originally commissioned by The Royal Danish Ballet. Current performing version (Hamburg Version) commissioned by The Hamburg Ballet...."


Presumably SFB is performing the Hamburg version and it sounds like Veltman is referring to this version being on DVD. I've checked Amazon UK but there's nothing there. Maybe Amazon.de or BelaireClassiques might have something, but I can't get to them right now (frustration!!!).

Here's Rita Feliciano's review in DanceViewTimes: and Allan Ulrich's in SFGate.

#9 Paul Parish

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Posted 21 March 2010 - 08:06 PM

Thanks, PeggyR, for starting the thread, and for the compliment. Yes, i've written -- hastily, but that's what it's like when your deadline comes fast -- thoguh the article won't be out till Wednesday, since the B.A. R. is a weekly. Look for it at www.ebar.com Wednesday evening (Pacific time).

THank you for posting both Rita Felciano's and Allan Ulrich's reviews, which are both very fine pieces.

I can't say any more at this point, except that the show should be seen so we can all talk about it.

#10 PeggyR

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Posted 21 March 2010 - 08:26 PM

Just an FYI: it turns out that Chloe Veltman is a Bay Area arts reporter for the NYTimes, and she has a blog where the article in question appears. I posted a comment there asking for information about the DVD. If there's a reply, I'll post it here.

#11 innopac

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Posted 21 March 2010 - 08:39 PM

Could the dvd be the set mentioned in this article? It isn't clear if the viewer saw the whole ballet or excerpts.

However there was something more, though it did not happen on the stage of the opera-house, and that was the publication of a DVD box, containing three discs of together 530 minutes of duration. Under the title “John Neumeier´s Ballett-Werkstatt” it presents a collection of his matinées from the seventies and early eighties, where he lectured on the basics of ballet, starting with the demonstration of the build-up of daily classes, and from there progressing to the finer details of choreography and how a ballet grows from its very first rehearsels to its finished product, with lots of excerpts from bis rich repertory, performed by many dancers from his early Hamburg days, including Lynne Charles, Marianne Kruuse, Beatrice Cordua and Gigi Hyatt through Kevin Haigen, François Klaus, Ivan Liska and Max Midinet – an excellent account of his educational efforts to teach the audience how to look at a ballet and how it takes shape.



#12 Brioche

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Posted 21 March 2010 - 09:06 PM

Neumeier is still conducting these matinées!

#13 kitcat

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Posted 22 March 2010 - 09:41 AM

Thanks so much Peggy for posting those reviews, they are very descriptive and interesting. It really would be nice if SF Ballet would make a DVD of Yuan Yuan Tan's performance, as it sounds like she is really spectacular in this ballet. I too would love to take a look at it.

#14 Paul Parish

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Posted 22 March 2010 - 09:45 AM

THanks, innopac -- that makes a lot of things fall into place --

such as the news, from Llolyd Riggins's "meet hte artist" talk, that Neumeier is still changing "the Little Mermaid" -- this version is hte SanFrancisco version, and htere are some sizable differences from the earlier versions. E.g., that the poet had never appeared in the wedding scene before.

EVERYONE says he is wonderful to work with....

SO he must cast a considerable personal spell.

#15 Brioche

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Posted 22 March 2010 - 10:31 AM

But overall, Auerbach's score at the most was serviceable; too often it was so overbearing to border the cliche.


The same could be said for both reviews. :blush:


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