Sasha De Sola and Carlo Di Lanno in Tomasson's The Sleeping Beauty. (© Erik Tomasson)

Sasha De Sola to Soar as Aurora in SF Ballet’s The Sleeping Beauty

Sasha De Sola, the a principal dancer with the San Francisco Ballet, will again be in the limelight as she takes the stage as Aurora in The Sleeping Beauty. This is role she has longed to perform here.

Ms. De Sola created principal or ensemble roles in Caniparoli’s Tears, McIntyre’s Your Flesh Shall Be a Great Poem, Rhoden’s LET’S BEGIN AT THE END, Scarlett’s Hummingbird, Thatcher’s Ghost in the Machine, Welch’s Bespoke, and Wheeldon’s Bound To.

She has performed principal or featured roles in Tomasson’s Giselle (Myrtha), Nutcracker (Queen of the Snow, Sugar Plum Fairy, and Grand Pas de Deux Ballerina), The Sleeping Beauty (Aurora); Swan Lake, On a Theme of Paganini, Prism, and Trio; Balanchine’s Coppélia (Waltz of the Hours soloist and Dawn), Diamonds, Divertimento No. 15Serenade (Russian Girl), and Symphony in Three Movements; Caniparoli’s Ibsen’s House; Cranko’s Onegin (Olga); Liang’s Symphonic Dances; Lifar’s Suite en Blanc; Makarova’s (after Petipa) “The Kingdom of the Shades” from La Bayadère, Act II; Nureyev’s Raymonda—Act III; Pas de Deux from Le Corsaire; Possokhov’s Classical Symphony, Firebird (Princess), and Fusion; Ratmansky’s Shostakovich Trilogy; Robbins’ Dances at a Gathering, Fancy Free, Glass Pieces, In the Night, and Other Dances; Scarlett’s Fearful Symmetries and Frankenstein (Justine Moritz); and Wheeldon’s Cinderella(Stepsister Edwina), Ghosts, Rush, and Within the Golden Hour.

Her repertory includes Balanchine’s Agon, Emeralds, Rubies, Stravinsky Violin Concerto, Symphony in C, and Theme and Variations; Forsythe’s Artifact Suite, Pas/Parts 2016, and The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude; McGregor’s Borderlands; Morris’ Maelstrom; Neumeier’s The Little Mermaid; Possokhov’s The Rite of Spring; Robbins’ The Concert and West Side Story Suite; and Thatcher’s Stone and Steel.

Sasha received silver and bronze medals at the World International Ballet Competition and Varna International Ballet Competition, respectively.

In this exclusive interview with Cultural Currents, she shares her insights and reflection on life by the Bay.

Cultural Currents: As someone who has travelled the world, what makes San Francisco unique?

Sasha De Sola: One of the many things I love about San Francisco is what a diverse city it is, in so many ways. Not only does it promote diversity among its residents but I also love the easy access to so many different types of landscapes (and weather for that matter!) Needless to say, it’s also one of the most beautiful cities in the world.

CC: Would you say that our audiences are more diverse and cosmopolitan?

De Sola: I find that San Francisco audiences are passionate and devoted. I feel so connected to our audience every single night I perform for them. It is such a special symbiotic relationship! I feel the energy of the audience wherever I dance. I feel most connected to San Francisco audiences because I have performed for them for over 12 years!

CC: You are regarded as a great actor, as well as a great dancer. How do you strike that balance?

De Sola: I love performing roles where I have to transform into a character. I often find that the character will inform the technique and movement quality. It can be a difficult balance to strike but I try to achieve that by working on my physicality and technique every morning in ballet class and rehearsals while using my real-life experiences and the spontaneity of live performance to inspire my acting.

CC: The physical demands of The Sleeping Beauty are tremendous. How do you stay fit and focused?

De Sola: The Sleeping Beauty is regarded as one of the most challenging ballets in the classical repertoire. Its so important to physically prepare your body for the technique and control required for the role of Aurora by taking proper and focused ballet class. Sometimes I also supplement with some cross-training like Pilates or Gyrotonics.  I also try to fuel my body with healthy, whole foods so I have the energy necessary for long rehearsals and performances.

CC: Bay Crossing readers spend a lot of their time on the water. Can you reflect on how ballet speaks to that lifestyle?

De Sola: I find that there is some level escapism that happens when I get on the water. It feels like a luxury to me. Ballet can also have that effect on me. Whether I am dancing or watching a performance, I forget about the day to day events that are happening in the world if only for a moment. I can escape and get engrossed in beauty for a while and that is truly a luxury in a hyperconnected world. Ballet and being on the water have that in common for me!

CC: Do you have any hobbies that bring you closer to The Bay? Walks on the beach, for example?

De Sola: I love going on hikes with my dog! There are so many picturesque and varying landscapes in the the Bay Area … it’s hard not to take advantage of that! I particularly love hopping on the ferry and exploring all of the corners of Angel Island.

CC: What do you recommend for ballet newcomers? How should they prepare for their first performance?

De Sola: Ballet newcomers sometimes feel intimidated about watching their first performance at the Opera House. I think it’s important to keep an open mind, there is no right or wrong way to enjoy ballet and art in general! In fact, I always love hearing the perspective of an audience member who is new to ballet! However, SFBallet also has so many great tools on their website if you want to prepare beforehand. Read the program notes, listen to the podcasts, read the blogs! They have a lot of valuable information available online!

CC: Finally, what do you regard as your next major challenge? Any dream roles yet to be performed?

De Sola:  I’d love to delve into even more dramatic roles such as Juliet in Romeo and Juliet or Tatiana in Onegin. It’s so gratifying and such a special experience to be able to fully embody a role and character.