British choreographer Liam Scarlett has won accolades for his modern classical ballet abstractions, his playful, inventive movement language and excellent spatial control. Young and famous, he got carte blanche from his company, London Royal Ballet, for a big deal, an evening-length Frankenstein ballet, in co-production with San Francisco Ballet and with a score written by Lowell Liebermann for the occasion. Grand or grandiose? One had to wonder. What would qualify the youngster (whose previous short narrative ballets had very mixed results) to be a storyteller of serious caliber? Did he learn from the masters—John Cranko, John Neumeier, Kenneth MacMillan, Graeme Murphy, Matthew Bourne, to name a few?
Or is this another case of over-reach, like the recent world premiere, Optimistic Tragedy, by San Francisco Ballet’s Choreographer in Residence, Yuri Possokhov, that marked the hundred-year anniversary of the Russian revolution?