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Who’s Who in A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Who’s Who in A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Meet Helena, Hermia, Hippolyta,
and the Enchanting Creatures of Midsummer

George Balanchine’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream is part of SF Ballet’s 2021 Season. It will be performed in Program 04, running March 5–14.

Titania: Queen of the Fairies
Yuan Yuan Tan and Tiit Helimets in Balanchine’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream // Choreography by George Balanchine © The Balanchine Trust; Photo © Erik Tomasson

Titania is obsessed with her recently acquired changeling, a human child stolen away to live among the fairies. Gracious, but stubborn, she’s uninterested in reconciling with her estranged husband.

 

Oberon: King of the Fairies
Joseph Walsh in Balanchine’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream // Choreography by George Balanchine © The Balanchine Trust; Photo © Erik Tomasson

Oberon is a bit of a troublemaker: when Titania won’t hand over her changeling, he decides a bit of fun is in order.

 

Puck: Oberon’s Right-Hand Man
Joseph Walsh and Esteban Hernandez in Balanchine’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream // Choreography by George Balanchine © The Balanchine Trust; Photo © Erik Tomasson

Puck loves mischief and is always down for a practical joke. Occasionally, however, those tricks go awry and then it’s up to Puck to find a way to put things right again.

 

The Lovers: Hermia, Helena, Lysander, and Demetrius
San Francisco Ballet in Balanchine’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream // Choreography by George Balanchine © The Balanchine Trust; Photo © Erik Tomasson

Four young people from Athens, the Lovers are in the midst of a complicated love square. Hermia loves Lysander and Lysander loves Hermia (good for them!). But Helena loves Demetrius, and Demetrius loves Hermia (oops). Once Puck and Oberon get involved, it only gets more complicated from there.

 

Bottom: Actor / Civilian / Donkey
Yuan Yuan Tan and Alexandre Cagnat in Balanchine’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream // Choreography by George Balanchine © The Balanchine Trust; Photo © Erik Tomasson

Poor Bottom. A struggling actor wandering through the forest, he gets caught up in forces beyond his control. No one asks to be turned into a donkey, but Bottom makes the most of a bad situation before being restored to his proper form.

 

The Butterfly: Puck’s Favorite Companion
San Francisco Ballet in Balanchine’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream // Choreography by George Balanchine © The Balanchine Trust; Photo © Erik Tomasson

The Butterfly is Puck’s bestie: she flits through the forest with her fellow instincts and helps him on his quests.

 

Theseus, Duke of Athens
Jennifer Stahl and Luke Ingham in Balanchine’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream // Choreography by George Balanchine © The Balanchine Trust; Photo © Erik Tomasson

Theseus runs Athens—at least the unmagical part inside the city walls. When he’s not dealing with the Lovers’ varied quarrels, he’s pursuing his own romantic interest: Hippolyta.

 

Hippolyta: Queen of the Amazons
Jennifer Stahl in Balanchine’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream // Choreography by George Balanchine © The Balanchine Trust; Photo © Erik Tomasson

Hippolyta would never let her ex trick her into falling in love with a donkey. She’s too much of a warrior woman for that. In fact, she’s literally the queen of a band of warrior women—the Amazons—and she’s engaged to Theseus. She’s definitely an example of having it all.

Check out the rest of the 2021 season

Header Image: Pacific Northwest Ballet’s Laura Tisserand and Ezra Thomson in Balanchine’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. (© Angela Sterling)