San Francisco Ballet: ‘The Little Mermaid’ Casting for 5/4/11

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(*Note*: This post was written prior to recent Casting changes. Always go to San Francisco Ballet’s web site here for current Casting.)

Right about now, hard core SFBalletomanes are repeatedly checking the Casting page for San Francisco Ballet’s production of John Neumeier’s The Little Mermaid on SFB’s web site-and Odette is as crazed as they are. In fact…

Welcome to Odette’s Mermaid Mania

(Featuring Odette’s Unique ‘Casting Formula’)

Yep. We are about to play ‘MADFAD’ (Mermaid Artistic Director for a Day)   

What we know:

We know that Yuan Yuan Tan will be dancing the title role on Opening Night, Sat. 4/30/11, that she has also been chosen to dance in the national and international broadcast and DVD, along with Tiit Helimets as ‘Prince’, Sarah Van Patten as ‘Princess’, Hamburg Ballet’s Lloyd Riggins as ‘Poet’ (although SFB’s own Pascal Molat will be in the Opening Night Cast), and ‘Davit Karapetyan as ‘Sea Witch’…and that the filming takes place on Tues. 5/3/11 and Thurs. 5/5/11.

We know that Lorena Feijoo will finally be making her Mermaid debut, along with the debuts of Vitor Luiz (her fiancé as of Valentine’s Day  2/14/11) as ‘Prince’ and Madison Keesler as ‘Princess’, and that Pascal Molat will be repeating his ‘Poet’, and Garen Price Scribner will dance his 1st 2011 ‘Sea Witch’ with them. We know this occurs on Sun. 5/1/11.

(NewPeeps: We also know that Mon. 5/2/11 is ‘dark’; there are no performances on Mondays).

We know that there are 3 Mermaid Casts of leads and 9 Mermaid performances. It would seem good sense to give everyone 3 performances. Wouldn’t it? 

Translation: ‘YY’ (Yuan Yuan Tan) & Tiit are already cast in 3 out of 5 known performances.

Due to the extreme nature of dramatic and physical challenges inherent in the Mermaid role, we cannot allow our fatigued Mermaids to dance the lead twice in a row. They need a day for ‘R & R’.

 Casting for the Wed. 5/4/11 performance, and 5/6 and beyond, is still unknown.

Here’s what everyone is dying to know:

 1. When will Sarah Van Patten dance her first 2011 Mermaid?

2. When will Lorena dance her 2nd?


3. Will  ‘YY’ will be dancing a 4th?

Here’s where Odette feels the need to pontificate (the advantages of having one’s own web site are becoming clearer every day) on the difficulties of Casting.

While SFB must work the DVD filming around the availability of Hamburg Ballet’s Lloyd Riggins as ‘Poet’, amongst other factors, it must also schedule some performances around the Guest Artist appearances of its own Dancers.

SFB’s immensely popular Principal Dancer Lorena Feijoo happens to be one busy ballerina…and her fiancé, SFB Principal Dancer Vitor Luiz, is one busy Dancer as well. And that’s why Odette can tell you, with absolute certainty, when Lorena and Vitor are definitely not dancing Mermaid:

Lorena Feijoo and Vitor Luiz are not dancing Mermaid on Fri. 5/6/11.

That’s because they will be performing Val Caniparoli’s uber romantic Lady of the Camellias and Yuri Possokov’s passionate Talk to Her (that’s right-from SFB’s 2011 Gala) at The Gala of the Stars, an invitational event associated with Youth America Grand Prix, “the world’s largest” (and most renown) “student scholarship competition”. Along with ABT’s extraordinarily talented Soloist Daniil Simkin (you’ve seen the YouTubes), they are the only three professional Guest Artists and will perform at Irvine Barclay Theatre in Irvine, CA. Details here and here

So if Lorena Feijoo and Vitor Luiz cannot perform Mermaid on Fri. 5/6/11, we have to assume it will be Sarah’s cast, as YY will have just danced 5/5 for the filming. But here’s where it gets confusing. If Sarah dances Fri. night, and so does Lorena in Irvine, who will dance the Sat. Matinee?

If YY gets Opening night on the 1st Sat. and Sarah gets Fri night, then Lorena should get the 2nd Sat. night. Which brings us back to Sat. Matinee. I’m thinking YY might dance a 4th Mermaid and dance that Sat. Matinee.

That leaves the final Sun. Matinee. It shouldn’t be Lorena,  as she will have already danced the 1st Sun. Matinee and will have just danced the night before.   

So now, let’s all move to the Odette’s dusty chalkboard for the formula, shall we?

Odette’s Deductive Reasoning for Possible Mermaid Casting 2011

Sat, 4/30/11: YY (already posted)

Sun, 5/1/11: Lorena (already posted)

Tues, 5/3/11: YY (already posted)

Wed, 5/4/11: ?

Thurs, 5/5/11: YY (already posted)

Fri, 5/6/11: Must be Sarah (Lorena in Irvine, YY exhausted)

Sat. Matinee, 5/7/11: Must be YY (both Sarah & Lorena will have danced the night before)

Sat Night, 5/7/11: Must be Lorena (can’t be YY twice in one day or Sarah 2 nights in a row, and Lorena hasn’t had a weekend evening yet)

Sun. 5/8/11: Must be Sarah (Lorena’s already had a Sun. Matinee and YY’s now danced 4 Mermaids)

Which brings us back, once again (!), to Wed. 5/4/11.

Now, do I give it to the Luscious Lorena, who didn’t get to dance her Mermaid last year, and whom everyone is anxious to see?

Or do I give it to the Sublime Sarah, whose Mermaid was enormously popular in 2010, and who is not interrupting her Mermaid run with any Guest Artist performances elsewhere?

Yes, it’s tricky, isn’t it?

That’s why Helgi Tomasson uses the following Casting Formula, created by yours truly:

Odette’s Casting Formula

1. Subtract (Lorena x 2) from (YY x 3), then multiply by (Sarah x 9) 

2. Using the above formula, calculate 2010’s Casting and add to 2011’s total and multiply that by 9 to the 3rd power 

3. (Don’t forget to carry the tail)

4. Place above results in conch shell

5. Add one Poet’s tear  

6. Shake, don’t stir

7. Pour over ice & drink up

8. Give a ‘Princess Wave’ (less obnoxious and more exuberant than the ‘Queen’s Wave’, while still retaining utmost propriety), and click your heels 3 times while saying, “Tut Tut. It looks like rain.”

9. Walk widdershins around the conch shell 9 times at midnight (it’s, uh…’Old Math’)

And, finally…

10. Ask Odette what to do

This formula can be applied to all Casting dilemmas for any given program in any Dance Company.

And that’s how Odette arrived at the following conclusion (and she’s sure you did too):

Wed. 5/4/11 MUST be Sarah Van Patten  

 And that’s how it’s done. 

‘See You at Mermaid!’


(If you didn’t like it, Odile wrote it)

For Odette’s ‘SFB Little Mermaid 2011 Preview’, with gorgeous photographs by Erik Tomasson and video clips, click here.

Remember to check Odette’s Casting formula against SFB’s real Casting here.


About Odette's Ordeal

'Ballet's Head Cheerleader'
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