What is it? Three intriguing takes on what ballet is today from three choreographers from around the world: Edwaard Liang, Dwight Rhoden, and Arthur Pita. Plus a little bit of Björk.
Who’s it for? Anyone who loves Björk, contemporary art, or stunning technique.
THE INFINITE OCEAN
What am I seeing? Tawainese-born but Marin County-raised Edwaard Liang returns to San Francisco with a new work that explores the space between life and death—the “Infinite Ocean” of the title. His new piece for SF Ballet melds stunning technique with a resonant emotional core, inspired by thoughts of lost loved ones. When the ballet opens, we—the audience—are on earth and the dancers in the in-between. By the end? That’s up to you to decide.
What am I hearing? A brand-new violin concerto by London-based composer Oliver Davis. This is Davis’s fourth ballet; he’s previously collaborated with Erico Montes and Ma Cong.
What should I look for? Watch for the two central pas de deux—they create the sense of drama in the work and suggest couples at different points in their journeys.
LET’S BEGIN AT THE END
What am I seeing? The co-founder of Complexions Contemporary Ballet (with dancer Desmond Richardson), choreographer Dwight Rhoden has worked with companies around the world and this is his first commission for SF Ballet. Inspired by the versatility of the Company’s dancers, he’s created a work for fifteen—a central couple, six 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 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.
What am I seeing? Inspired by the music of Icelandic singer-songwriter Björk, choreographer Arthur Pita created a ballet full of quirky characters, snippets of narrative, and a stunning full-cast “ballet rave.” The extreme movement ranges from frenetic to impossibly slow and sustained.
What am I hearing? A selection of songs by avant-garde pop star Björk. Pita had been wanting to work with Björk’s music for years and thought that since she, like SF Ballet Artistic Director and Principal Choreographer Helgi Tomasson, is Icelandic, SF Ballet would be the perfect place to create it.
What should I look for? Keep an eye out for the fisherman, whose narrative arc opens and closes the piece; the pixie-like creature who weaves her way through the ballet; and a couple who seem in the midst of a tumultuous, passionate love affair. Oh, and a heart-stopping moment set to Hyperballad.
Listen to the Unbound D Spotify Playlist
From Oliver Davis to Michael Nyman to Björk, what's not to love?