Three contemporary works in San Francisco Ballet’s first triple bill of the season

San Francisco Ballet in Morris’ Sandpaper Ballet // © Erik Tomasson

San Francisco Ballet’s 2021 Digital Season features three contemporary ballets – Dwight Rhoden’s Let’s Begin at the End, the World Premier of Colorforms by Myles Thatcher, and Mark Morris’ Sandpaper Ballet.

Frances Chung and Angelo Greco in Rhoden’s LET’S BEGIN AT THE END // © Erik Tomasson

Dwight Rhoden – Founding Artistic Director and Resident Choreographer of the Complexions Contemporary Dance Company – created Let’s Begin at the End for San Francisco Ballet’s Unbound Festival in 2018, his first for the Company. Rhoden considers himself to be a contemporary choreographer, without “putting limits on myself as a creative person”. Let’s Begin at the End has no actual storyline, but represents aspects of love, its ups and downs, and the way in which we connect and disconnect with each other as relationships progress. The ballet is set to an unusual combination of pieces – by J S Bach, Philip Glass and Michael Nyman. Costume design is by Christine Darch, with lighting by James F Ingalls.

Jennifer Stahl and Ulrik Birkkjaer in Rhoden’s LET’S BEGIN AT THE END // © Erik Tomasson

As a dancer, Rhoden has performed as a principal dancer with the Dayton Contemporary Dance Company, Les Ballet Jazz De Montreal, and with Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, and has created over 80 ballets for his Complexions Company, and others including Alvin Ailey, The Dance Theater of Harlem, New York City Ballet/Diamond Project and the Mariinsky Ballet.

Cavan Conley and Esteban Hernandez in Thatcher’s COLORFORMS // © San Francisco Ballet

Myles Thatcher, now a San Francisco Ballet soloist, has had a fascination for choreography from his early years. He has already created four ballets for San Francisco Ballet – Ghost in the Machine, Manifesto, In the Passerine’s Clutch and Otherness, as well as works for Charlotte Ballet,The International Competition for the Erik Bruhn Prize, the Rolex Arts Weekend in Mexico City, for New York City Ballet, Joffrey Ballet, Canada’s National Ballet School and four works for the San Francisco Ballet School.

Frances Chung in Thatcher’s COLORFORMS // © San Francisco Ballet

Thatcher’s new ballet, Colorforms, is set in San Francisco, in locations which include the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Heroes Grove at Golden Gate Park, in Yerba Buena Gardens and the stage of the War Memorial Opera House, the Company’s performance home. With an emphasis on color, and on creating and appreciating art, it celebrates “…. the joy that art of all kinds has afforded me in my life”, he says. The work is set to Steve Reich’s Variations for Vibes, Pianos and Strings, and directed for film by Ezra Hurwitz. Costumes are by Susan Roemer, with lighting design by Jim French.

Mark Morris – founder of his own modern dance troupe, Mark Morris Dance Group – has, since his early years, created works which reflect his own character as far as musicality and structure are concerned, works that are often witty and sometimes outrageous, as well. Sandpaper Ballet, which he created for San Francisco Ballet in 1999, was his third for the Company – he’s since choreographed a further seven new works, including the full-length ballet Sylvia.

Morris wanted to set a ballet to a big orchestral work, and (according to Tina Fehland who staged Sandpaper Ballet for the Company) since he has always loved the music of 20th century American composer Leroy Anderson, he’s used 11 pieces of Anderson’s music, including Sleigh Ride, The Typewriter and The Syncopated Clock. Morris’ inspiration came from Anderson’s piece entitled Sandpaper Ballet, a tribute to vaudeville soft-shoe dancing which features the sound of sandpaper being used, hence the choice of title for this work. The costumes were designed by fashion designer Isaac Mizrahi, with lighting by James F Ingalls.

This triple bill runs from February 11th to March 3rd, and tickets can be purchased online at the San Francisco Ballet website for $29 for 72-hour access. For access to all seven programs in this 2021 Digital Season, the Premium Plus Digital Package can be purchased from the Company website, with additional bonus content, for $289.

Information sourced from:
San Francisco Ballet program notes
Artists’ websites

ArtsPreview home page

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