San Francisco Ballet capped artistic director Helgi Tomasson’s departing season with his “Swan Lake,” headlined by four promising casts. On opening night I saw Frances Chung as Odette/Odile, and she was technically impeccable, emotive without crossing over into camp, and athletically powerful—but she didn’t believably click with Joseph Walsh’s playboy-esque Siegfried. Then I received emails from strangers reporting that Sasha De Sola’s debut in the role had left them dazzled. So I returned to see her second go at it with Max Cauthorn as Siegfried, and am I ever glad I did. Growing up in Fresno, California, I used to re-watch the Royal Ballet’s “Swan Lake” with Anthony Dowell and Natalia Makarova on VHS and dream of getting out of the dry valley to such a life of beauty. At this point, though, it’s been many years since I’ve been truly moved by a performance of “Swan Lake.” De Sola and Cauthorn took me back to a state of wonderment.
Sasha De Sola in Tomasson's “Swan Lake.” Photograph by Erik Tomasson
One way to get to know the history of a company is through the “liner notes” of its “Swan Lake” production, and for those of us continuing to build an admiring familiarity with Pacific Northwest Ballet via its digital season offerings, Kent Stowell and Francia Russell’s “Swan Lake” provides an interesting glimpse into PNB prior to Peter Boal’s leadership.FREE ARTICLE