I Left my Heart in San Francisco

Ballerina Ballet Freed Pointe Shoes San Francisco Ballet Wan Ting Zhao War Memorial Opera House Yuan Yuan Tan

I'm in San Francisco on a three day stopover.

Art doesn't just exist in this city.

Art becomes this city.

(War Memorial Opera House)

Watching company ballet class is a delicious treat. Even more so to watch the San Francisco Ballet dancers. But as wonderful as the dancers were, there was one that particularly caught my eye.

(www.sfballet.org Photo by Chris Hardy)

Wan Ting Zhao.

Every once in a while, there comes a dancer that doesn't just dance ballet. She becomes ballet.

I couldn't take my eyes off her. Her adagio is decadent and rich, like resisting through thick honey. Her allegro is effortless and crisp. Such precision and power in such a seemingly delicate frame.

But there is something else: hunger.

Ballet feeds her soul.

(www.sfballet.org Photo by Chris Hardy)

Yuan Yuan Tan was also in company class. The jewel of San Francisco Ballet.

She has all the elements of perfection. Beautiful lines, gorgeous feet, incredible strength and effortless presentation. There is confidence that quietly commands respect. A resilience and control in her movement. A kind of warm familiarity, like a well-worn pair of jeans. There is no novelty. No need to prove. Just comfort.

Zhao doesn't have Tan's experience or strength but there is spring and vitality in her movements that makes her an absolute pleasure to watch. There is hunger in her attitude and uncontainable joy in her movements.

Tan's relationship with ballet is of a love between wife and husband: with all the familiarity and comfort only time can build.

Zhao's relationship with ballet is of wild young lovers: with all the excitement and passion only newness can bring.

Maturity and passion are embodied in these two dancers.

Both precious. Both absolutely essential.

Au Revoir, San Francisco xoxo


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