Three more world premieres from San Francisco Ballet’s ‘Unbound’ festival

San Francisco Ballet swings into the second program of its Unbound festival with three more very individual world premieres, by three very different choreographers – the company’s own Myles Thatcher, and two British choreographers, Cathy Marston and David Dawson

Myles Thatcher, a member of the company’s corps de ballet, has had a fascination for choreography from his early years – he says he remembers putting steps together to the Spanish variation from The Nutcracker at a very young age. He has already created three works for San Francisco Ballet – Ghost in the Machine, Manifesto, and In the Passerine’s Clutch – and also a work entitled Foragers for The International Competition for the Erik Bruhn Prize, as well as works for the Rolex Arts Weekend in Mexico City, for New York City Ballet, Joffrey Ballet and four works for the San Francisco Ballet School.

For this Unbound festival, Thatcher has choreographed a work entitled Otherness which explores the themes of conformity and individualism in society, and set it to a lively piece by John Adams which carries the cheerful title of Absolute Jest – a work commissioned by the San Francisco Symphony, and which takes its title (at the suggestion of Michael Wilson Thomas) from Stravinsky’s Pulcinella. See Myles talk about the ballet and the music in this video clip. He has some interesting theories to impart.

The inspiration for Cathy Marston’s ballet Snowblind came from the 1911 novel Ethan Frome by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Edith Wharton. This American classic, set in a fictitious town in Massachusetts, tells of the fraught emotional tangle which develops between a struggling farmer, his demanding and unappreciative wife who is also a hypochondriac, and a beautiful young girl who arrives to help the ailing wife – three people trapped in a situation restricted by the times in which they live. The score, arranged by Philip Feeney, is taken from works by Amy Beach, Arthur Foote, Arvo Pärt and Feeney himself.

Apart from her enthusiasm for presenting audiences with new ideas, using both classical and contemporary art forms, Cathy Marston also has a special gift for narrative ballet, and a passion for literature, and she has successfully combined both gift and passion in her interpretations of literary classics. These include Ibsen’s Ghosts – a highly acclaimed work created during her five years as Associate Artist of the Royal Opera House – Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre, Chekov’s Three Sisters, Nabokov’s Lolita and Witch-hunt – created for Bern Ballett in Switzerland and inspired by the true story of Anna Goeldi, the ‘last witch of Europe’.  Here’s a preview clip of Snowblind.

Among the prestigious awards and accolades received by choreographer David Dawson is the Prix Benois de la Danse Award for The Grey Area – which was also nominated for the UK Critics’ Circle National Dance Award for Best Classical Choreographer. He also has the honor of being the first British choreographer to have received Russia’s highest theatre prize for visual art, the Golden Mask Award, for Reverence, created for the Mariinsky Ballet. He is currently Associate Artist of the Dutch National Ballet and a freelance choreographer, and this is his first commission for San Francisco Ballet.

In Anima Animus, Dawson – himself a former dancer – says he was working with the ideas of opposition, hence the title – anima being Carl Jung’s term for the feminine part of a man’s personality, and animus being the reverse.  Dawson has set the ballet to a violin concerto by Italian conductor, composer and pianist Ezio Bosso – Principal and Resident Conductor of the Fondazione del Teatro Lirico Giuseppe Verdi in Trieste, and Resident Conductor and Art Director of the StradivariFestival Chamber Orchestra. Dawson says, in this interview, that it’s been very interesting trying to place this concept of opposites onto the music, “because essentially it’s about visualizing the music …. that’s the communication to the public – that’s what’s special about dance – no words necessary, heart to heart”.

San Francisco Ballet’s second program in Unbound: A Festival of New Works opens at the War Memorial Opera House this evening (April 21st) for four performances, until May 4th. For further information, visit the San Francisco Ballet website.

Information sourced from:

San Francisco Ballet program notes by Cheryl A Ossola

American Literature


Artists’ websites:

Myles Thatcher

John Adams

Cathy Marston

Philip Feeney

David Dawson

Ezio Bosso


ArtsPreview Home Page

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