Dance: MIXED REPERTORY PROGRAM #3 (San Francisco Ballet)

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by Jim Allen on March 4, 2021

in Dance,Theater-San Francisco / Bay Area,Virtual

SAN FRANCISCO BALLET’S MIXED REPERTORY
PROGRAM #3 OPENS TONIGHT

The world premiere of Danielle Rowe’s roaring ’20s dance film Wooden Dimes, the return of Yuri Possokhov’s fan-favorite Swimmer and Alexei Ratmansky’s powerful Symphony #9 make up Program 03, which starts tonight, March 4, 2021, and runs through March 24. Sign up to stream for $29  on SF Ballet’s website.

ImageImageDanielle Rowe’s Wooden Dimes premieres TONIGHT March 4, 2021, on Program 03, and plays through March 24. Filmed at the War Memorial Opera House, Wooden Dimes is Rowe’s first ballet created for SF Ballet’s repertory season. “My appreciation for the art of filmmaking has developed tremendously throughout the creation of Wooden Dimes,” says Rowe, who also directs the film. “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.” 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 Kingsburylighting 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 stardomClick here to see an interview with Rowe about her creative process.

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San Francisco Ballet in Ratmansky’s Symphony #9 // © Erik Tomasson;
Wei Wang in Possokhov’s Swimmer // © Erik Tomasson

Wooden Dimes will stream alongside two archival captures: Alexei 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.

Program 03 closes with SF Ballet’s Choreographer in Residence Yuri Possokhov’s Swimmer, 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 Duhamelcostumes by Mark Zappone, and scenic design by Alexander V. Nichols.

COMING UP:

Program 04, March 5–14

George Balanchine’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream returns on Friday, March 5 for Program 04. Balanchine’s full-length ballet received one performance in the 2020 Season before shelter-in-place orders went into effect.  Pairing a “seamless combination of acting and dancing” and “nail-biting” solos that result in “near-constant applause” (San Francisco Chronicle), the production features more than 100 roles in all, including 14 leading parts and a cast of 25 children. Midsummer’s woodland scenes and costumes are designed by Tony Award–winner Martin Pakledinaz, a longtime SF Ballet collaborator whose work can be seen in the Company’s productions of Nutcracker and Don Quixote, with lighting designed by Randall G. Chiarelli. Midsummer’s cast of fairies, mortals, bugs, and mismatched lovers is set to music by Felix Mendelssohn, and SF Ballet’s 10 performances will feature Volti, a San Francisco-based chorus, performing with the SF Ballet Orchestra throughout the run.

Program 05, March 25–31

George Balanchine’s plotless, evening-length ballet Jewels opens Program 05 on March 25, returning to the Company after a more than ten-year absence. Called “a perfect introduction to ballet” (The New York Times), Jewels is inspired by the artistry of jeweler Van Cleef & Arpels and includes three ballets: EmeraldsRubies, and Diamonds, with costume designs by Karinska and lighting designs by Ronald Bates. Emeralds alludes to the 19th-century dances of French Romantics and is set to excerpts from Fauré’s Pelléas et Mélisande and ShylockRubies is a feat of athleticism, set to the modernist, American jazz-inspired Capriccio for Piano and Orchestra by Stravinsky. Diamonds invokes memories of Imperial Russia in a grand and formal display of classical ballet, set to Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 3 in D major.

Program 06, May 28–June 6

Called “a runaway box office hit” at its premiere in 2009, Helgi Tomasson’s Swan Lake opens Program 06 on May 28, with performances through June 6. The story of the white swan Odette and Prince Siegfried and their foils, the black swan Odile and Von Rothbart, is brought to life with set and costume designs by Tony Award–winner Jonathan Fensom; lighting by Jennifer Tipton; projection design by Sven Ortel; hair, wig, and makeup design by Michael Ward; and the timeless score by Tchaikovsky, playing out over a prologue and three acts. Swan Lake offers standout roles for the corps of 30 swans and Odette/Odile, with her surprising 32 fouettés in the third act. San Francisco Ballet presented America’s first full-length production of Swan Lake in 1940, and this production of Swan Lake is Tomasson’s second; the ballet is not only a classic of the repertory, but an integral part of San Francisco Ballet’s history. It was last seen in the 2017 Repertory Season.

Program 07, June 18–27

Helgi Tomasson’s Romeo & Juliet closes the 2021 Repertory Season. Another signature work of the Company, Romeo & Juliet premiered during SF Ballet’s 1994 Repertory Season and is set to Sergei Prokofiev’s score. The full-length production features lighting design by Thomas R. Skelton and “opulent” (Los Angeles Times) Italian Renaissance designs by Jens-Jacob Worsaae. Included in Romeo & Juliet are the intricate and exhilarating sword-fighting scenes, which Martino Pistone choreographed in tandem with Tomasson. True to the era, characters fight with rapiers, daggers, and bucklers in tightly choreographed scenes requiring hours of rehearsal. Romeo & Juliet inaugurated Lincoln Center at the Movies: Great American Dance in 2015, when it was shown at cinemas nationwide. The ballet has been performed live at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the Bolshoi Theatre (balcony pas de deux), and Segerstrom Center for the Arts. SF Ballet most recently performed Romeo & Juliet on tour at The Royal Danish Opera House in Copenhagen, Denmark, October 30–November 2, 2019.

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