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San Francisco Ballet: Snowblind/Bjork Ballet/The Infinite Ocean review at Sadler’s Wells – ‘blissful balletic rave’

Sam Francisco Ballet's Bjork Ballet at Sadler's Wells, London. Photo: Erik Tomasson
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San Francisco Ballet continues to dish up delectable European premieres in the second of its four mixed programmes.

The only narrative piece in the offing, Cathy Marston’s Snowblind is the most deeply affecting of this trio (and it’s the only piece made by a woman out of the 12 works, most of which the company premiered last year). Based on Edith Wharton’s novella Ethan Frome, Snowblind is set to a rich score featuring compositions by Amy Beach – whose 1896 Gaelic Symphony was the first by an American woman to be successfully performed and published.

Marston masterfully delineates the shifting balance of power within the central love triangle and its interplay of pathological unhappiness, dependency and thwarted passion. Jennifer Stahl delivers a tremendous performance as Zeena, Ethan’s hypochondriac wife.

Snowblind’s pervasive sadness is partially countered by Arthur Pita’s protean, irresistibly tinselled Bjork Ballet, set to songs by the Icelandic star. Any tendency towards tack – there’s an occasional hint of Vegas – is offset by the brilliant strangeness of the whole confection. A blissful balletic rave for the cast of cavorting creatures is an indubitable highlight.

Edwaard Liang’s The Infinite Ocean gestures towards weighty existential issues but gets a bit bogged down with tortuous partnering and lifts. The deluxe haulage on show sometimes shifts into brighter territory unbound by leggy manoeuvres. Sofiane Sylve basks like a contented animal in golden sunlight, while Yuan Yuan Tan brings wraith-like inscrutability to the crystalline precision of her dancing.

San Francisco Ballet: Shostakovich Trilogy review at Sadler’s Wells, London – ‘crisp technique’

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San Francisco Ballet impresses with Bjork-themed cavorting and a masterly Edith Wharton adaptation