Author Archive for: ‘CarolBenet’

“Unbound: A Festival of New Works” at SF Ballet, Program D

“Unbound:  A Festival of New Works” at SF Ballet, Program D

Carol Benet

The end of the “Unbound:  A Festival of New Works” at SF Ballet, Program D is both a sad and joyous affair.  When else will we have four productions with 12 choreographers creating brand new dances performed by the company of one of the best ballets in the world?  The San Francisco Ballet goes all out with everyone from the members of the corps up to principal dancers all participating in the 17 day Festival through May 6, 2018.

Helgi Tomasson, Artistic Director of the SF Ballet, chose these twelve international choreographers well and placed them, three in each of the four repeated programs, so there is a good mix of music and dance with and a variety of costumes and sets to match them.

The last Program D ends with a spectacular work “Björk Ballet” that the Portuguese choreographer Arthur Pita created that almost shocks the audience and leaves it with a hope that this ballet will become part of the repertoire of the SF Ballet.  Luckily it comes last of all the programs because it would outshine any of the other works, especially the first two of Program D,  Edwaark Liang’s “The Infinite Ocean” and Dwight Rhoden’s “Let’s Begin at the End”.  They might  wither in the wake of “Björk Ballet”.

But the beautiful ballet by Liang is danced to a violin concerto played by Heeguen Song with the orchestra under the baton of Martin West to the music of Oliver Davis about the passing of time and the spirituality that conjures thoughts of both life and death.  “The Infinite Ocean” is a lovely ballet well executed by Sofiane Sylvie, Tilt Helmets, Yuan Yuan Tan and Vitor Luiz, stars of the company, accompanied by other members of the company.

The second work, Dwight Rhoden’s “Let’s Begin at the End”  is a busy piece with the choice of three composers, J.S. Bach, Philip Glass and Michael Nyman, who is well known for his movie scores for Peter Greenway and Jane Campion.  It seems as if Rhoden can’t make up his mind on these disparate composers or the ideas behind the dance that has the vague theme of connection and disconnection, one that invites a shifting and scattered presentation,  Stars of the company Frances Chung, Angelo Greco, Esteban Hernandez, Sasha De Sala, Jennifer Stahl, Benjamin Fremantle and Ulrick Birkkjaer with another eight dancers are busy coming and going, to and fro, throughout the dance.

But the highlight of Program D if not of the entire festival is Arthur Pita’s “Björk Ballet” based on the superstar singer, song writer, actress and personality who has built her fame on her outlandish costumes that offered a retrospective exhibit at the New York Museum of Modern Art.  It helps that she comes from Iceland as does Artistic Director  of SF Ballet Thomasson who welcomed this ballet.  It is very Hollywood and attracted a very young and hip crowd.

It is no longer sufficient to have a concert and a soloist without the extreme lighting effects and costumes that go with it.  Think of Madonna or Lady Gaga concerts.  It is not only about the music today, but it is the spectacle that is created to attract the audience.  “Björk Ballet” does exactly the same thing with the episodes from myths about a simple fisherman and the theme of the preservation of the natural world.

We will just have to wait for next year to see if any of the creations from “Unbound:  a Festival of New Work” make it into the repertoire.  I hope so and will keep checking at sfballet.org for the selections of the next season.

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