Kamryn Baldwin in Tomasson's Swan Lake // © Erik Tomasson

Local Critics Praise SF Ballet’s “Swan Lake”

Helgi Tomasson’s 37th and final season as Artistic Director and Principal Choreographer with Swan Lake, through May 8 at the War Memorial Opera House.

Tomasson, who choreographed his first Swan Lake in 1988, three years after his appointment to SF Ballet, debuted the current production in 2009. The production has remained one of the most popular in the Company’s repertory.

Watch Swan Lake’s trailer here.

Local critic, Garth Grimball, noted in a recent San Francisco Examiner review that “the ballet has reached a status too often assigned to fads, but it is the real thing: iconic, awe-inspiring, archetypal.”

Rachel Howard noted in her San Francisco Chronicle review that Tomasson also pulled out a surprise for this performance “when the 30 maidens-turned-swans sauté-arabesqued onto the stage.”

The most well-known of the classical ballets, Swan Lake made its U.S. premiere at SF Ballet in 1940. Tomasson’s Swan Lake includes set and costume designs by Tony Award–winner Jonathan Fensom and is danced to the score by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, performed live by SF Ballet Orchestra.

It offers a dramatic and choreographic challenge for the dancer in the dual role of Odette/Odile, who encompasses both the innocence of Odette and the flashy malevolence of Odile. In his production, Tomasson also showcases male dancers in the first act, offers standout moments for the corps of 30 swans, retains Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov’s original second act, and adds a divertissement in the third. Swan Lake was last presented in San Francisco during the 2017 Repertory Season.