Your Ultimate Guide to Program 02

Your Ultimate Guide to Program 02

A Celebration of the Contemporary

This production was part of the 2021 Repertory Season

What Is It? A celebration of contemporary ballet and contemporary art showcasing works by Complexions Contemporary Ballet’s Dwight Rhoden, SF Ballet’s very own Myles Thatcher, and the one and only Mark Morris

Who’s It For? Anyone who loves a good movie flashback, visits to SFMOMA, or in-crowd jokes.


San Francisco Ballet in Rhoden’s LET’S BEGIN AT THE END // © Erik Tomasson

What Am I Seeing? The co-founder of Complexions Contemporary Ballet, choreographer Dwight Rhoden has worked with companies around the world, but this was his first commission for SF Ballet. Inspired by the versatility of the Company’s dancers, this work for fifteen showcases a central couple, six additional couples who suggest different aspects of the central couple’s relationship, and a solo man. The movement blends classical and contemporary movements creating a vocabulary that’s both expressive and precise.

What Am I Hearing? A mélange of Michael Nyman, Philip Glass, and J.S. Bach. The music traces the arc of the central couple’s relationship.

What Should I Look For? The solo man. This part was a surprise even to the choreographer: when Rhoden entered the studio, he thought he would just be working with seven couples, but then-soloist Esteban Hernandez upended that idea. The role created on him has now become central to the ballet. See how he instigates actions and reactions throughout the piece.


Frances Chung in Thatchers COLORFORMS // © San Francisco Ballet

What Am I Seeing? A new ballet by SF Ballet Soloist Myles Thatcher. Thatcher is increasingly in demand around the country for his works which are choreographically innovative, musically complex, and often topically relevant. This world premiere for film will be captured both at SFMOMA and at the War Memorial Opera House, allowing Thatcher to explore his art form in a new mode and in new spaces.

What Am I Hearing? Steve Reich’s Variations for Vibes, Pianos, and Strings. This piece was originally conceived as a dance work for contemporary choreographer Akram Khan in 2006.

What Should I Look For? Thatcher’s ballets are, even on a big stage, intimately human, with dancers seeming to be real people as well as stunning artists. Notice how this element of his work is emphasized on film.


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

What Am I Seeing? Mark Morris, a MacArthur Foundation fellow and one of the world’s most influential living choreographers, has made more works for SF Ballet than for any other ballet company in the world. Sandpaper Ballet, created here in 1999, is a cleverly tongue-in-cheek ballet exemplary of his signature musical sensibility, with bodies on stage articulating different parts of the score. Its bright green Isaac Mizrahi costumes add a surrealist element to this quirky ballet.

What Am I Hearing? A selection of songs by composer Leroy Anderson. If the name isn’t familiar, the music will be, as Anderson was the composer of light orchestral works like Fiddle Faddle, The Typewriter Song, and, most famously, Sleigh Ride, which have made their way out of the concert hall and on to radios and TV screens around the world.

What Should I Look For? Notice the formation the dancers are in at the very beginning, when the curtain opens. They’ll return to this grid over and over—it serves as a kind of home base or structural reset as the music changes. Also, the overture is distinctive (and I don’t want to give it away!). But think about how it impacts your experience of the dance to hear this particular song right before the curtain goes up.

Header Image: San Francisco Ballet in Rhoden’s LET’S BEGIN AT THE END // © Erik Tomasson