The Little Mermaid
was originally created in 2005 for the Royal Danish Ballet: a homage to Hans Christian Andersen to celebrate the writer's bicentenary, which was premiered on April 15 for the opening of the new Opera House of Copenhagen. In May 2011 The Little Mermaid
was brought to stage again by the San Francisco Ballet, one of the world’s most highly acclaimed ballet companies at the San Francisco War Memorial Opera House. Based on Hans Christian Anderson’s fairy tale, John Neumeier has created a modern but timeless interpretation of The Little Mermaid
– a dramatic tale set in two contrasting worlds: The underwater life of the ocean creatures and the flamboyant lifestyle of humans.
Hans Christian Anderson took the inspiration for the story of The Little Mermaid
from his real life. It is a story of sacrifice and unrequited love. In fact, The Little Mermaid
was written shortly after the marriage of one of Anderson’s love interests.
John Neumeier included Anderson as a character: the poet as the alter-ego of Hans Christian Anderson who is an observer, director of the piece and takes part, who like the little mermaid is in love with the prince. The poet imagines and directs the actions.
John Neumeier describes the creative process, how to find a movement vocabulary to express a life under the sea in dance steps and talks about his motivations. Neumeier not only choreographed the ballet but also designed the costumes, the stage set and the lighting. His most intimate partner is the music and essential for his inspiration. He decided to commission Lera Auerbach to write the music. It is the second collaboration of Neumeier and Auerbach, who is fast becoming one of the world's most frequently performed living composers.
The principle dancers talk about their roles and explain the story line. Lloyd Riggins (The Poet) explores his character being both the creator and the subject of the story. Davit Karapetyan reveals his approach to the role of the Sea Witch. Tiit Helimets and Sara van Patten talk about their worldly portrayal of the Prince and the Princess. And Yuan Yuan Tan (The Little Mermaid) dances with her heart and makes it magic.