San Francisco Ballet Digital Season - Programs 2 and 3
The second and third programs of the San Francisco Ballet Digital Season consist of mixed repertory that include two world premieres: Myles Thatcher’s piece will be stream beginning February 11th and Danielle Rowe’s on March 4th.
Creative Process with Myles Thatcher
Highlighting San Francisco Ballet’s Program 2 is Thatcher’s still untitled piece which is set in iconic San Francisco locations including the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Heroes Grove at Golden Gate Park, Yerba Buena Gardens, and the stage of the War Memorial Opera House, SF Ballet’s performance home.
Thatcher’s work emphasizes saturated colors in its design and explores parallels between consuming art—as one might at an art museum—and creating it.
Thatcher’s world premiere ballet is his fourth repertory season creation for the company of which he is also a soloist dancer. His new ballet is set to Steve Reich’s Variations for Vibes, Pianos, and Strings and is directed for film by Ezra Hurwitz, with costume designs by Susan Roemer, and lighting design by Jim French.
“First and foremost, I want this piece to embody the joy that art of all kinds has afforded me in my life. Yes, it has brought much needed beauty through this especially challenging year. But more importantly, art allows me to get a glimpse of someone else’s perspective. It allows me to see through another person’s eyes and walk in another person’s shoes. Art has a unique way of showing us that through all our beautiful differences, we still may share common truths. And ultimately, it teaches us empathy, one of the greatest gifts we can share.”
Also on this program are archival captures of Dwight Rhoden’s LET’S BEGIN AT THE END and Mark Morris’ Sandpaper Ballet.
Created for Unbound: A Festival of New Works in 2018, Rhoden’s LET’S BEGIN AT THE END is set to music by J. S. Bach, Philip Glass, and Michael Nyman and was noted for its “off-kilter moves, spinning promenades in arabesque and consistent drive” (Bachtrack) at its premiere. LET’S BEGIN AT THE END was the first work created for SF Ballet by Rhoden, who is co-artistic director of Complexions Contemporary Ballet.
Mark Morris’ Sandpaper Ballet, created in 1999 with costumes by Isaac Mizrahi, is a rare work in the repertory that sets neoclassical ballet to “funny” music—in this case, nostalgic pop-orchestral tunes by Leroy Anderson: “Sleigh Ride,” “Fiddle-Faddle,” “The Typewriter,” and more.
“I didn’t trust ballet orchestras,” the choreographer writes in Out Loud, his memoir written in collaboration with Wesley Stace. “It turned out that the San Francisco Ballet orchestra was very good.” It was then Morris’ “apology and joke” to set the ballet, his second work for the Company, to Anderson’s novelty tunes. Sandpaper Ballet is one of seven ballets that Morris has created for SF Ballet.
The ballet’s rehearsal process involved Director of Photography Heath Orchard working both in person and remotely over Zoom, and remote collaboration with costume designer Emma Kingsbury, lighting designers Jim French and Matthew Stouppe, and composer James M. Stephenson, who has created an original score for the ballet.
The ballet’s title alludes to the American idiom, “don’t take wooden nickels,” a warning to protect oneself from swindling and manipulation. Set in the roaring ‘20s with art deco stylings, Wooden Dimes follows two characters, Betty and Robert Fine, whose love becomes jeopardized as Betty soars to stardom.
“My appreciation for the art of filmmaking has developed tremendously throughout the creation of Wooden Dimes. I adore the necessity and value given to details, the ability to transform a moment and play in post-production, and the attention and forward thinking required to piece a story together cohesively.”
Also on this program are archival captures of Alexei Ratmansky’s Symphony #9 and Yuri Possokhov’s Swimmer.
Ratmansky’s Symphony #9 from Shostakovich Trilogy, co-commissioned by SF Ballet, premiered in 2012 at American Ballet Theatre and is set to Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 9 in E-flat major, opus 70. Drawing on ideas and themes from Shostakovich’s life, Symphony #9 features two leading couples and a soloist man who suggests the character of the Soviet composer. The ballet includes scenic designs by George Tsypin and costume designs by Keso Dekker.
Choreographer in Residence Yuri Possokhov’s Swimmer was a smash hit at its premiere in 2015. Swimmer is set to music by SF Ballet Orchestra double bassist Shinji Eshima, who incorporates recorded songs by Tom Waits and others into his score. Inspired by John Cheever’s short story of the same name from 1964, Swimmer includes animated projections by Kate Duhamel, costumes by Mark Zappone, and scenic design by Alexander V. Nichols.