Instant Expert: A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Balanchine and the Bard Come to the Bay Area
George Balanchine’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream was part of SF Ballet’s 2021 Digital Season. It was performed in Program 01, streaming January 21–February 10.
When the Balanchine Trust, which has stylistic approval of all Balanchine productions, allowed A Midsummer Night’s Dream to be redesigned in 1997, Pacific Northwest Ballet turned to Martin Pakledinaz. A set and costume designer who is well-known to SF Ballet audiences (Don Quixote, Nutcracker), Pakledinaz drew inspiration for the beloved story ballet from his surroundings. He tailored the production to the Pacific coast, adding local flora and fauna, hanging fog, conch shells, and even a 12-foot spider.
Pakledinaz’s vision started a trend for Midsummer productions with a similar local focus. Couturier Christian Lacroix designed opulent costumes—featuring Sophie Hallette lace and Swarovski crystals—for Paris Opera Ballet’s 2017 production. And artist Michele Oka Doner designed a new production for Miami City Ballet that’s set under the sea, with seahorses and the character of Bottom transformed not into a donkey, but a manatee.
Header Image: San Francisco Ballet School Student in Balanchine’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream // Choreography by George Balanchine © The Balanchine Trust; Photo © Erik Tomasson