Up Close & Personal With The San Francisco Ballet

In anticipation of next week’s season opener of the San Francisco Ballet, we got to know two of the top dancers, Sasha de Sola and Benjamin Freemantle.

Sasha De Sola in Tomasson’s “The Sleeping Beauty”

Photo Credit: © Erik Tomasson

Name: Sasha De Sola

Title: Principal

Preferred role of the 2018 season: Definitely Aurora in The Sleeping Beauty. It has been a dream role for me for as long as I can remember. Aurora is such a demanding role in many ways, and I felt so fortunate to have had the opportunity to realize that dream finally. I can’t wait to dive back into it this season!

Number of shoes used in a week: It depends. When I am dancing a classical full-length I can go through as many as seven to 10 pairs per week! But those don’t go to waste after I use them! I save those shoes for other ballets that don’t require the shoe to be quite as structured. I generally re-use them for more contemporary repertoire.

Favorite story ballet: It’s hard to choose one. Since I was a little girl, I always loved the score and the classicism of The Sleeping Beauty. But as I get older, I am drawn to more dramatic works such as Onegin or Romeo and Juliet.

Highlight of Unbound: I felt so proud of the entire company for their incredible work on the Unbound festival. I didn’t have a favorite moment. I just felt so fortunate to be surrounded by so many incredible and versatile artists!

Benjamin Freemantle in McIntyre’s “Your Flesh Shall Be a Great Poem”

Photo Credit: © Erik Tomasson

Name: Benjamin Freemantle

Title: Soloist

Preferred role of the 2018 season: A couple come to mind, but outside of the Unbound festival, I loved getting the chance to perform Jerome Robbins’ Fancy Free as the lead sailor.

Number of shoes used in a week: I typically only wear nude colored shoes, and those don’t last as long because you don’t wear socks with them. Gross. So I usually switch out after a week of use.

Favorite story ballet: My favorite full-length ballet to watch as well as one I’ve performed would be John Cranko’s Onegin.

Highlight of Unbound: My favorite moments would have to be in Trey McIntyre’s ballet Your Flesh Shall be a Great Poem. I get the chance to be alone on stage for almost 10 minutes, and it’s crazy to look out to the audience and realize that it’s just you they are looking at—it’s a surreal experience

Dance motto: My mother passed it down to me during my early years of doing Irish dancing. When I got nervous or wanted to not dance for whatever reason she would pull me aside and say, “F*ck it, have fun.” I say that to myself before I go on stage.