San Francisco Ballet in Bournonville's La Sylphide // © Lloyd Englert. Photo courtesy SFMPD.

SF Ballet’s Program 4 Gets Under Way Next Week


San Francisco Ballet (SF Ballet) and Artistic Director & Principal Choreographer Helgi Tomasson will present the west coast premiere of Alexei Ratmansky’s The Seasons and the revival of August Bournonville’s La Sylphide on Program 4.

From March 15–20, Program 4 brings together fantasy, myth, and the physical world. Building on SF Ballet’s traditions of innovation and collaboration, Program 4 features contemporary updates of classical ballets, and a co-commission.

Ratmansky’s The Seasons premiered in New York City in May of 2019 as a co-commission of SF Ballet and American Ballet Theatre. Its west coast premiere performances will feature new costumes by Robert Perdziola for principal characters The Spirit of the Corn, Bacchante, and Zephyr, who are among the colorful cast of characters inspired by elemental forces and mythology, including flowers performed by students from SF Ballet School.

The Seasons is performed to the original score by Alexander Glazunov, composed for Marius Petipa in 1900, and is one of Ratmansky’s many re-imaginings of Marius Petipa’s ballets from Imperial Russia.

The Seasons is the ninth of Ratmansky’s ballets in SF Ballet’s repertory—his first, Le Carnaval des animaux from 2003, also marked his first US commission. An allegorical ballet in one act and four scenes, The Seasons’ score remains an integral part of classical music repertoire and will be performed live by the SF Ballet Orchestra.

August Bournonville’s La Sylphide, noted as the original “ballet blanc” of Romantic-era ballet and a classical masterpiece, returns to SF Ballet for the first time in 25 years. In a two-act production directed by Tomasson and with scenic and costume designs by Jose Varona, La Sylphide epitomizes Danish storytelling and mime, following the narrative of Scottish farmer James and his pursuit of a sylph. For opening night and additional performances, SF Ballet will engage Eva Kloborg, a Bournonville expert and Knight of the 1st Degree of the Danish Dannebrog Order, as Guest Character Artist, performing the witch Madge. Staged by Tomasson with Ballet Masters Anita Paciotti and Katita Waldo, La Sylphide includes additional coaching by SF Ballet Principal Dancer Ulrik Birkkjaer, formerly of Royal Danish Ballet. In his setting which premiered in Honolulu in 1987, Tomasson, who began his professional career at Copenhagen’s Pantomime Theatre in Tivoli Gardens in his youth, celebrates the Danish style of dance, codified by Bournonville, and embodying lightness, clarity, and elegance in movement.