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UNBOUND 2018: A Festival of New Works

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Maria Kochetkova's final performance dates at SFB:

 

 

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Choreographer Trey McIntyre is interviewed by Rebecca King Ferraro and Michael Breeden (from "Conversations on Dance")

https://conversationsondancepod.com/2018/05/03/choreographer-trey-mcintyre/

"I had never seen a really happy Artistic Director. It's a really tough job, and it's a lot of masters to serve...."

At 17:40 McIntyre talks a bit about what it was like working with the SFB dancers, and what he finds special about this company. He's a very intelligent and well-spoken person.

 

Edited by pherank

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i found this interview with Annabelle Lopez Ochoa to be very informative regarding the Guernica ballet. And it also gives us some sense of the craziness involved in putting together a new ballet in 3 weeks time (mostly). Although she would probably be miffed that Trey McIntyre got through everything in the first week, and had to find some "busy work" to keep the team occupied for the remaining 2 weeks.  😉  That's not a common experience though.

http://dancetabs.com/2018/04/interview-annabelle-lopez-ochoa-on-creating-guernica-for-sf-ballets-unbound-festival/

CB: Why did you do a ballet based on Guernica?
ALO: "First of all, I love painters. Broken Wings (English National Ballet, 2016) was on the life of Frida Kahlo, Sombrerismo (Ballet Hispánico, 2013) was Magritte. When I was invited [to do Unbound], I thought, Okay, I want to do something on Picasso. But it’s a big subject. On the 7th of April 2017, a video came out on CNN about a chemical attack on a tiny village in Syria. My reaction to seeing the images of children suffocating and not being able to do anything – I just pressed the stop button. I couldn’t face it. I felt such a hypocrite. I was really angry at myself because I’m just watching. I thought, what can I do as an artist? Because I can use my art to talk about this."

How have you liked working with the SFB dancers?
"They are incredible. They can morph from one style to the other, and they are in for the ride. They are fast, they are used to working with just a couple of rehearsals, so they help each other sometimes. Jim Sofranko had to go away because he is taking over the company in Grand Rapids [Michigan, where he will is the incoming artistic director], so one dancer said, ‘I’m not in this cast, but I know the duet.’ Jim helped him, and the next day the guy did it. I said, ‘I have no corrections for you.’ It was flawless. And it was Joseph Warton, a 19-year-old trainee. That’s how tight they are. Just for me to have a good run-through, they made that effort."

 

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SFB has posted a map of the interconnections between the various Unbound Festival choreographers (and ballet companies):

https://www.sfballet.org/unbound#map

FY18_PB5_Infographic_spread.jpg

What I would really enjoying seeing would be a map of the personal connections between these choreographers and SFB people [not that they would ever make such a thing]. Ochoa first met Tomasson at the ballet symposium at Dutch National Ballet in February, 2016. But David Dawson worked with Sofiane Sylve years ago in Amsterdam, and I think was the first choreographer to create on her. Christopher Wheeldon was responsible for informing Tomasson about Maria Kochetkova talents while she was at ENB. Edwaard Liang and Yuan Yuan Tan have been friends for some time. There are a number of connections between Houston Ballet and SFB, and on and on.

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(I will also post this in the 2019 Season thread)

I received an email reminder to renew by subscription for 2019.  In the email, the five returning Unbound pieces are named.  They are (drum roll, please):

  • Anima Animus (David Dawson)
  • The Infinite Ocean (Edwaard Liang)
  • Snowblind (Cathy Marston)
  • Your Flesh Shall Be a Great Poem (Trey McIntyre)
  • Bound To (Christopher Wheeldon)

I was confident Bound To & Anima Animus would return.  I was hoping The Infinite Ocean would also return.  Flesh was on my wishlist as I did not think it would return.  And although Snowblind is a great vehicle for the three leads, I wasn't sure that it would return.  I do hope that some of the other pieces will return some time in the future.

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It's interesting that the Peck ballet will not be returning. But how much do you want to bet that Hurry Up, We're Dreaming will be performed at Kennedy Center?

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5 minutes ago, pherank said:

It's interesting that the Peck ballet will not be returning. But how much do you want to bet that Hurry Up, We're Dreaming will be performed at Kennedy Center?

True, but perhaps since his Rodeo-Four Dance Episodes is returning next year the thought was only one Peck could return???  I agree that Hurry Up We're Dreaming could appear in DC - and it could also come back to SF in 2020.  To be honest, I was not exactly thrilled with it on the first view but it grew on me in successive viewings.

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6 minutes ago, sf_herminator said:

True, but perhaps since his Rodeo-Four Dance Episodes is returning next year the thought was only one Peck could return???  I agree that Hurry Up We're Dreaming could appear in DC - and it could also come back to SF in 2020.  To be honest, I was not exactly thrilled with it on the first view but it grew on me in successive viewings.

What you say about Rodeo returning is actually the most likely reason it got passed over.

Pita may be starting a tradition at SFB of creating performance art (I won't say "ballets") that generates a lot of interest, but doesn't survive to be revived.

Edited by pherank

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Surprised too that Justin Peck's ballet was not chosen. Maybe Peck decided to pull it? 

My notes from the two Unbound weeks –

Looking back on “Unbound,” I was pleased with the balance of the individual programs I saw (A,B, C but not D) and with a few very special things that reminded me of my dance-going days in New York. 

Trey McIntyre’s “Your Flesh Shall Be a Great Poem” (with Benjamin Freemantle’s solo) was indeed like something you’d see at PS 122, with a very clean simple vocabulary and great inventiveness within those limits. The kind of directness of Daniel Nagrin in the 1950s or Merce Cunningham or even Gene Kelly with his newspaper dance. Each new thing seemed to come organically and logically out of the previous one. If this is a trend in the big ballet companies, I do like it.

I’m not a fan of ballet-theater (MacMillan, Tudor, Onegin, etc) but I did enjoy watching Cathy Marston’s “Snowblind,” and the changing relations of Ulrik Birkkjaer (whose dancing I’ve enjoyed seeing over the year beginning with the Poet in “Serenade”), Sarah Van Patten and Mathilde Froustey. But especially the movements of the corps as weather – winds and snowstorms – rolling by slowly outside the house. Their careful geometric articulations reminded me of Leonardo’s precise drawings of smoke and water. Also interesting were the men filing back and forth as they prepare to go to work way on the side of the stage, activating that area in an unusual way. I did miss Wharton’s irony at the end where Mattie virtually becomes Zeena in Ethan’s eyes. Marston seemed to leave the ending open.

I wished Justin Peck’s “Keds” ballet, “Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming” had been done with simple, all-over “Dances at a Gathering” lighting so that I could see more of it. What I especially liked the second time I saw it was the rock and roll reprise at the end of the first pas and the repeats of the dancers along with it, building up more “meaning” each time. So simple and moving.

I liked the Stanton Welch piece, “Bespoke” (which made me long for “Concerto Barocco”) less than other ballets.  And also less the cool, analytical David Dawson “Anima Animus” (which made me long for Wayne McGregor’s “Borderlands”). But they both fit into their programs well.

At a couple of points in Myles Thatcher’s “Otherness” the choreography seemed to match the score but then its overly simple premise interfered and the dancing lost track of the music. But John Adams’ “Absolute Jest” was glorious to listen to and the orchestra played it so well. Beethoven’s austere and metaphysical string quartet #14 and his jaunty (and squeaky) quartet #16 were first played by the strings (home base) and then tossed out to the rest of the orchestra who went on to play the strings’ earlier statements against them. Especially wonderful when the horns (along with deep clanging bells) echoed back earlier phrases. 

Anyway I think “Unbound” seemed an important update for the company, everyone looked great, and it seemed to be popular with a larger crowd than the company usually draws from. In coffee line at the Ft Mason Farmer’s Market on Sunday, I heard someone saying that she had been to "Unbound" the night before, how great it was, and how she liked seeing the way men were being treated these days, in less traditional gender specific roles  – a big surprise for her.

Edited by Quiggin

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I am happy for Ed Liang that The Infinite Ocean got chosen and not surprised about the works by Peck, Pita, and Ochoa not being encored. The Wheeldon, Dawson, and Marston choices were solidly constructed and beautifully danced and were a given. I did love the Rhoden, Welch, and McIntyre ballets most of all, with honorable mentions for the performances we got from Van Patten, Birkkjaer, and Froustey in Marston's Snowblind. 

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17 hours ago, sf_herminator said:

(I will also post this in the 2019 Season thread)

I received an email reminder to renew by subscription for 2019.  In the email, the five returning Unbound pieces are named.  They are (drum roll, please):

  • Anima Animus (David Dawson)
  • The Infinite Ocean (Edwaard Liang)
  • Snowblind (Cathy Marston)
  • Your Flesh Shall Be a Great Poem (Trey McIntyre)
  • Bound To (Christopher Wheeldon)

I was confident Bound To & Anima Animus would return.  I was hoping The Infinite Ocean would also return.  Flesh was on my wishlist as I did not think it would return.  And although Snowblind is a great vehicle for the three leads, I wasn't sure that it would return.  I do hope that some of the other pieces will return some time in the future.

Those are the five I would have chosen, though I did like the Welch piece (but it went on a bit too long). Did they say which ballets will be on which programs? I particularly want to know about programs 2 and 3.

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9 hours ago, kbarber said:

Those are the five I would have chosen, though I did like the Welch piece (but it went on a bit too long). Did they say which ballets will be on which programs? I particularly want to know about programs 2 and 3.

Not yet - I just checked the 2019 Season section on the website (https://www.sfballet.org/season/2019-season) and the slots are still listed as Encore Work TBA.  Maybe it will be updated when the works that will be taken to DC in the fall are announced.

UPDATE:  Unbound works have been added - here are the details (only listing mixed rep programs)

Program 2:  Balanchine's Divertimento No. 15, Millepied's Appassionata, Dawson's Anima Animus

Program 3:  Tomasson's The Fifth Season, Marston's Snowblind, Lander's Etudes

Program 5:  McIntyre's Your Flesh Shall Be a Great Poem, Wheeldon's Bound To, Yuri Possokhov World Premiere

Program 6:  Liang's The Infinite Ocean, Liam Scarlett World Premiere, Peck's Rodeo: Four Dance Episodes

Edited by sf_herminator
added program details

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For those who are interested in why Froustey gave up the lifetime contract at POB, she speaks about this at length in this great interview.

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40 minutes ago, Helene said:

For those who are interested in why Froustey gave up the lifetime contract at POB, she speaks about this at length in this great interview.

Some people may find it difficult to understand some of her speech due to the way that she accents syllables, but her command of English is actually pretty impressive now - given that she knew no English before arriving in SF. Her interviews are always entertaining.

I recommend the Katido Waldo interview to anyone wanting to know more about the role of a ballet master in a company.

Edited by pherank

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1 hour ago, Helene said:

For those who are interested in why Froustey gave up the lifetime contract at POB, she speaks about this at length in this great interview.

What she had to say about the Concours was eye-opening. And, that the dancers threatened to strike because she was given a leading role when she was hired! 

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1 hour ago, ABT Fan said:

What she had to say about the Concours was eye-opening. And, that the dancers threatened to strike because she was given a leading role when she was hired! 

Rather depressing. It seems clear now that she began her career in controversy, and so the 'powers that be' continued to hold it against her, year after year. She was always hamstrung. At the time she left POB to come to SFB, there were still supporters thinking that she just needed to hold on - the promotion would finally come. It's impossible to know if there would have been a change of heart under Millepied or Dupont, but since the A.D.'s don't get to promote anyone by themselves, it's still just a guessing game.

I kind of thought Nureyev was instrumental in getting Sylvie Guillem promoted to étoile - and that was really controversial given her young age. But now I wonder how that all came together.

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23 minutes ago, pherank said:

I kind of thought Nureyev was instrumental in getting Sylvie Guillem promoted to étoile - and that was really controversial given her young age. But now I wonder how that all came together.

Guillem sailed through the promotion exams, ultimately being nominated to étoile within days of winning promotion to première danseuse. She was recognized as a unique prodigy from the outset.

Edited by volcanohunter

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2 hours ago, ABT Fan said:

And, that the dancers threatened to strike because she was given a leading role when she was hired! 

And Lefevre telling them to do what they wanted, but they wouldn't be paid.

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On ‎5‎/‎7‎/‎2018 at 5:06 PM, pherank said:

It's interesting that the Peck ballet will not be returning. But how much do you want to bet that Hurry Up, We're Dreaming will be performed at Kennedy Center?

 That would have been lower odds than Justified in the Belmont.  Is  Peck's the only work at the KC not chosen for a repeat by SF?

Edited by maps

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On 5/7/2018 at 2:06 PM, pherank said:

It's interesting that the Peck ballet will not be returning. But how much do you want to bet that Hurry Up, We're Dreaming will be performed at Kennedy Center?

BINGO!!  The programs for the Kennedy Center performances have been announced:

  • Program A:  McIntyre's Your Flesh Shall Be A Great Poem, Wheeldon's Bound To, and Dawson's Anima Animus
  • Program B:  Liang's The Infinite Ocean, Marston's Snowblind, Peck's Hurry Up We're Dreaming

SF Ballet link:  https://www.sfballet.org/season/tour

Kennedy Center Link:  http://www.kennedy-center.org/calendar/event/BTBSF

Also interesting to note:  For the 2019 Season, Program 6 has been revised.  Arthur Pita's Bjork Ballet replaces Edwaard Liang's The Infinite Ocean.  https://www.sfballet.org/season/2019-repertory/2019-Program-06

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3 hours ago, sf_herminator said:

Also interesting to note:  For the 2019 Season, Program 6 has been revised.  Arthur Pita's Bjork Ballet replaces Edwaard Liang's The Infinite Ocean.  https://www.sfballet.org/season/2019-repertory/2019-Program-06

That seems to be a completely strategic move to bring in the young audience - no veteran SFB ballet goer has voiced much appreciation for the Pita work.

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