Have Pointe Shoes, Will Travel

The streets of Beijing’s Forbidden City witnessed some impromptu tendus when San Francisco Ballet’s dancers went sightseeing during their November tour to China. The com­pany’s first visit to the People’s Republic, arranged by private donors to coincide with the government’s 60th anniversary, gave dancers the opportunity to perform for audiences that rarely see a Western troupe. The tour also marked a homecoming for prima ballerina and Shanghai native Yuan Yuan Tan. Critics and audiences alike greeted her Swan Lake with special enthusiasm.


The excitement of encountering a new and very different culture outweighed some of the two-week tour’s rigors. “We have never toured to a non-Western country before,” says corps member Dana Genshaft. “China’s architecture looks futuristic, but you can turn a corner and women are washing their clothes in a basin on the street. It’s a place of extremes.”


“The students wanted to get everything just right and they were so impressed by their
visitors. Their mouths were like little ‘O’s.”
—Yuan Yuan Tan


The audiences loved that Yuan Yuan had come home to dance. When we did the Black Swan pas, I was thinking, ‘Just don’t mess up YY’s stuff!’ ”—Tiit Helimets

Latest Posts

Complexions Contemporary Ballet's Tatiana Melendez Proves There's No One Way to Have a Ballet Career

This is Pointe's Fall 2020 cover story. Click here to purchase this issue.

Talk to anyone about rising contemporary ballerina Tatiana Melendez, and one word is bound to come up repeatedly: "Fierce." And fair enough, that's a perfectly apt way to describe the 20-year-old's stage presence, her technical prowess and her determination to succeed. But don't make the mistake of assuming that fierceness is Melendez's only (or even her most noteworthy) quality. At the core of her dancing is a beautiful versatility. She's just as much at ease when etching pure classical lines as she is when boldly throwing herself off-balance.

"Selfish choreographer that I am, I want Tatiana to stay with Complexions for all time," says her boss Dwight Rhoden, Complexions Contemporary Ballet's co-artistic director and resident choreographer. "She has a theatricality about her: When the music comes on, she gets swept away." Not too shabby for someone who thought just a few years ago that maybe ballet wasn't for her.

Keep reading SHOW LESS
Jeremy Kyle, Courtesy Laubacher

My First Month as a Professional Dancer in the Age of COVID-19

I moved to Eugene, Oregon, in August, brimming with nerves and excitement to launch my career as an aspirant with Eugene Ballet. After months of quarantining at home in Pittsburgh because of the coronavirus lockdown, transitioning to my new life on the West Coast marked a rapid shift. But in time, it granted me newfound feelings of security. For starters, the ritual of filling up my water bottle, packing my shoes and leotard, putting up my hair and walking into the studio reintroduced a much needed flow of normalcy into my life.

Keep reading SHOW LESS
Erik Tomasson, Courtesy SFB

"My Plate Is Full": Sofiane Sylve on Her New Leadership Roles at Ballet San Antonio and Dresden Semperoper

Sofiane Sylve had huge plans for 2020: Departing her post as a principal dancer at San Francisco Ballet, she embarked on a multifaceted, bicontinental career as ballet master and principal dancer at Dresden Semperoper Ballett, and artistic advisor and school director at Ballet San Antonio—and then COVID-19 hit, sidelining performances and administrative plans at both companies. But ballet dancers are nothing if not resilient. In her new leadership roles, Sylve is determined to help shepherd ballet through this challenging time—and transform it for the better. Pointe caught up with her by phone while she was in Dresden.

Keep reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks