Your Ultimate Guide to UNBOUND A

What is it? Unbound A is a collection of works by three celebrated choreographers: Alonzo King, Christopher Wheeldon, and Justin Peck.  

Who’s it for? Anyone who loves music, is into sneakers, or is a little too attached to their phone.

THE COLLECTIVE AGREEMENT

Myles Thatcher in Alonzo King’s The Collective Agreement // © Erik Tomasson


What am I seeing? Alonzo King is not just a choreographer, but a philosopher. In The Collective Agreement, King plays with ideas of negotiation, collaboration, and community. Among the many negotiations that happen in this piece—between two dancers, between music and movement, between stillness and action—perhaps most key is the negotiation between individuality and community. Dancers come together in groups and in pairs, dancing as a collective, while also maintaining their individuality.

What am I hearing? A new composition by Jason Moran. A winner of a MacArthur “Genius” grant, Moran is a jazz musician and composer. King and Moran have an ongoing working relationship and The Collective Agreement will be their third collaboration.

What should I look for? Note how the ballet opens with two pas de deux—an unconventional choice in an art form where a pas de deux usually acts as the climax of a work. But here they set up the relationships in the rest of the ballet.

BOUND TO©

Christopher Wheeldon rehearsing Wheeldon's Bound To© // © Erik Tomasson


What am I seeing? When’s the last time you rode Caltrain and looked out the window rather than scrolling Instagram? Or left your phone at home and totally unplugged for the day? Christopher Wheeldon’s new ballet, Bound To©, starts with these questions, exploring the loneliness and disconnection that our constant state of digital engagement can cause. After years of choreographing big story ballets—Alice in Wonderland, The Nutcracker—and Broadway musicals—An American in Paris, Brigadoon—this ballet is a foray back into the kind of abstract, short works that launched his career in the early 2000s. Bound To© is a tech-influenced ballet for a tech-obsessed city.

What am I hearing? A collection of works by singer-songwriter Keaton Henson. The ballet’s score will blend Henson’s classical music with one of his final vocal racks.

What should I look for? Look for the way dancing with cellphones changes the dancers’ movements. Ballet is usually about connection, either between the dancers on stage or the dancers and their audience. But here, they are inwardly oriented, fixated on technology in ways that change the line of their heads and necks. And then note how when the dancers lose their phones their movements become more expansive.

HURRY UP, WE’RE DREAMING

San Francisco Ballet rehearsing Peck's Hurry Up, We're Dreaming // © Erik Tomasson


What am I seeing? Inspired in part by walking through San Francisco, Peck’s new ballet, Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming crafts an evolving dreamscape to an album by electronic music group M83. Oh, and did we mention it’s danced in sneakers? Although a ballet choreographer—look for how his dancers move through classical shapes—Peck has been experimenting of late with choreographing not in pointe shoes, but in sneakers. It’s a choice that changes the dancers’ relationship to weight and the floor, grounding them in a way that seems freshly modern.

What am I hearing? Excerpts from Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming, an album by French electronic music project M83. Written when M83 creator Anthony Gonzalez moved to Los Angeles, this album was what Peck found himself listening to when he was visiting SF in 2015.

What should I look for? Look for the two duets and how they differ from one another. And for how soloists appear and disappear within the greater mass, suggesting not just a community, but a whole world of inspiration and dream. 

Listen to the Unbound A Spotify Playlist

A new Jason Moran work, singer-songwriter Keaton Henson, and electronic pop experiment M83 create a diverse soundscape for Unbound A.