Swan Lake premieres this Saturday Feb 21st and will be danced till the beginning of March.
Read my 8 tips to see it with children, listen to the Swan Lake Music, and learn about the composer:
San Francisco Ballet’s “The Nutcracker” is almost a holiday gift in itself. What a lovely tradition it would be to go each year, watching the ballet that has become a perennial favorite for generations.
My thirteen-year-old daughter and I enjoyed a Saturday matinee. We strolled through the amazingly beautiful War Memorial Opera House lobby — resplendent with Christmas décor, perfect for a photo or two — and through the rest of the building before settling in our seats.
The ballet ‘s presentation of “The Nutcracker” was exquisite. The story was more complete than other Nutcrackers I’ve seen, and had a few touches of local flair that were so well-done they blended in almost unnoticed. San Francisco Ballet is the leading ballet company of the West Coast (and we learned that it was the first to premiere “The Nutcracker” in the United States) and it was made clear with shockingly beautiful dancers, remarkably detailed sets and effects, gorgeous costumes, and of course, the live orchestra that accompanied the show. As in any ballet, there was not a spoken word. The dance movement was big and breathtaking. The first act was lively, and included the Battle Scene between the Rat King and the Nutcracker, and captured young audience members. It is at the urging of my teen daughter that children become familiar with the story of “The Nutcracker” before attending the ballet to “get the story. It can be hard to follow on stage for little kids if they don’t know it beforehand.”
Dining at the Opera House
In the lower level of the Opera House, there was both a full-service dining experience and a sort of kiosk-type. Full-service dining reservations must be made ahead. Seating was not easy to find for those wanting to sit and eat food purchased from the kiosk, especially if arriving less than 45 minutes before curtain. Creating quite a stir amongst the youngest children was “Candyland” — an area cordoned off and filled with jars of bulk candy that children could scoop into a cello bag. The candy was a bit pricey at just over $5 per pound, but we did notice that many children were enjoying their treats throughout the show.
The Opera House seats over 3,000 and as the show began, we glanced behind us, and thought it had likely sold out. While I believe there is not a bad seat in the house, our Premium Orchestra seats were simply perfect. We were able to see the entire stage; close enough to see the beautiful details of the set, and my daughter, a ballet dancer herself, was able to watch the ballerina’s feet and admire the lines of the dancer’s bodies in a technical manner. The cost of these seats ($125 each) falls in the middle of the ballet’s price range, ($35 - $270 each) but are well worth the cost, especially when with children who will appreciate every aspect of the ballet. Tickets purchased in August or September of 2012 received a considerable discount, usually $25 each.
Each year, a number of shows early in the run are designated as “Family Performances”. On these designated show dates, the first 500 ticketed children to enter receive complimentary treats and a gift. There are photo opportunities with costumed cast members, so cameras are encouraged. Lines form quickly; service begins one hour prior to curtain and ends 30 minutes before curtain.
Age Appropriateness & Dress
There were children of all ages at the matinee we attended; however, San Francisco Ballet suggests that children over the age of 5, who can sit quietly for 2 hours, are the ideal ballet audience. Booster seats are available. People in all manners of dress were attending the ballet, while there is no requirement to dress up, most families attending took the opportunity to wear festive holiday clothes and enjoy a fancy day out.
This review is based on a complimentary visit to San Francisco Ballet: “The Nutcracker”. I received no other compensation and the business owner did not state any requirements that I express a particular point of view. The opinions I express are entirely my own.
The past three years I've taken my son to The Nutcracker by San Francisco Ballet (what can I say, I'm preparing him to be a good husband someday). SF Ballet is one of the top companies in the country so if you're going to go to the ballet (and you don't live in NYC) this is THE one you go to.
Let me just say, I have found my people, and they are at the ballet! We always have such a good time. Everyone is dressed to the nines, there are opportunities to take photos with the company, there are gingerbread cookies and hot cocoa (no eating inside the theater, though). Don't spend a fortune on tickets if you think Jr. might want to bail out early. You can rent opera glasses at the coat check (kids love this). My son has always been really impressed with the performance. At one point during his first showing of the Snow pas de deux he asked “Is this a movie?” He kept voicing his concern for the ballet dancers...simply stating “I hope they don’t break their feet.” He said he liked the Rat King best at the end. For the rest of the holiday season we watch him prance around the house saying “I’m a beautiful ballerina” while at the same time pretending to kill us with his swords. So yea, there are positives to the whole art in motion thing ;0)
Every year there's new sets, costumes, and interpretation of the story...there was kindof a Freudian thing going on with 15 year old Clara and 109 year old Drosselmeyer last year ;0)
Walk a few blocks down Van Ness to Max's Opera Cafe after the show. Food is tasty, portions huge, and menu is extensive. There's live music and very kid friendly, too.