"Great Performances: The Little Mermaid from the San Francisco Ballet"
John Neumeier -- director and chief choreographer for Hamburg Ballet -- blends dance, dramatic storytelling and spectacle into a unique interpretation of a classic Hans Christian Andersen’s tale. With choreography, sets, costumes, and lighting, all by Neumeier, this ballet—as much theater as it is dance—takes the dancers into deep emotional terrain. The acclaimed production of The Little Mermaid from San Francisco Ballet airs on GREAT PERFORMANCES.
Those expecting a simple ballet adaptation of the Disney animated film will be surprised to find a complex and intense portrayal of unrequited love and the resilience of the human spirit.
San Francisco Ballet – the oldest professional ballet company in America – received Neumeier’s rare permission to present the American premiere in March 2010, which was met with ecstatic audience response, and hailed by critics as “mesmerizing” and “moving.” The two-act production features an evocative score by the young Russian-American composer Lera Auerbach which mixes haunting melodic passages with moody undercurrents atonality and dissonance.
Neumeier created the ballet for The Royal Danish Ballet in 2005 to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Andersen’s birth, and a subsequent Hamburg Ballet version premiered in 2007. Of all the famous writer’s stories, the choreographer chose this one because of its “very particular concept of love,” he says. “Love that is so strong that it can overcome boundaries, that it can transport her to new worlds, although it may seem to be self-destructive—because the Mermaid re-creates herself at the cost of extreme personal pain. But the story teaches us, at the same time, that no matter how strong our love may be, it doesn’t obligate the object of our love to love us in return.”
GREAT PERFORMANCES "The Little Mermaid From San Francisco Ballet airs as part of the PBS Arts Fall Festival.
AIRS Friday, December 16 at 9 p.m. on WCVE PBS/WHTJ PBS
Watch the preview: