San Francisco Ballet

November 11 – 15, 2020

San Francisco Ballet

November 11 – 15, 2020

 Overview 

Helgi Tomasson’s world-renowned San Francisco Ballet makes its Toronto debut this fall when it opens The National Ballet of Canada’s 2020/21 season. With this historic guest appearance, Toronto audiences will experience three acclaimed works from San Francisco Ballet’s recent repertoire, all from influential choreographers of today. 

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Rodeo: Four Dance Episodes

Overview

Justin Peck’s Rodeo: Four Dance Episodes offers a fresh interpretation of the famous score that Aaron Copland composed for Agnes de Mille’s ballet Rodeo in 1942, dropping the western influences of the earlier work in favour of pure, contemporary movement. Created in 2015 for New York City Ballet, where Peck is Resident Choreographer and Artistic Advisor, Rodeo sends 15 men and one leading woman through four distinct expressions of athleticism, all with a sense of joy and vitality. 

Five Things to Know
  1. Justin Peck is the exciting young choreographer of Paz de la Jolla, an exuberant short work The National Ballet of Canada first performed in 2018 and subsequently took on tour to Moscow and St. Petersburg in the company’s first Russian tour.
     
  2. Peck has collaborated with a diverse range of composers and musicians, including indie favourite Sufjan Stevens, Bryce Dessner of the rock band The National and electronic band M83. In Rodeo, Peck reinterprets Aaron Copland’s ballet score by focusing on the energy and athleticism of the music, not its narrative potential. 
     
  3. Peck started out as a tap dancer after seeing the musical Bring in ‘da Noise, Bring in ‘da Funk with choreography by Savion Glover. Peck is also interested in sports and these influences are apparent in his highly physical choreography, with some works featuring dancers in running shoes.
     
  4. Peck often uses large groups to experiment with pattern and relationships. Soloist roles exist but the choreography is not beholden to traditional ballet hierarchies. Gender roles are fluid. Peck has also worked outside of ballet, winning a Tony Award in 2018 for his Broadway revival of Carousel
     
  5. Rodeo is a ballet in four parts, each with a distinct movement quality. The first is boldly athletic, the second is pensive and the third is a pas de deux, inspired by Peck’s observations of birds flying in formation. The fourth movement brings the entire cast together in a celebratory finale.
The Choreographer

Justin Peck is a Tony Award-winning choreographer, director and dancer. In 2014, he was the second person in history to be appointed Resident Choreographer of New York City Ballet. He has created new work for diverse and prestigious organizations around the world, including Paris Opéra Ballet, the Guggenheim Museum and the L.A. Dance Project.

The Composer

Aaron Copland was a popular and influential 20th century composer, known for integrating jazz and folk into classical music for a distinctly American symphonic style. He composed widely for ballet, orchestra and film, earning a Pulitzer Prize for his composition Appalachian Spring.

Reviews

“The contemporary choreography celebrates old-fashioned hoe-down glee – high kicks, frolicsome energy and a dance-off straight off the ranch. You can almost see the wagons circling a campfire.” — DanceTabs

“Peck has a marvelous ear, an all-seeing eye, and whether he saw it live or not, an ability to capture the original Rodeo’s innovative touches within Copland’s bright rhythms.” — San Francisco Classical Voice

Bound To

Overview

Christopher Wheeldon, the celebrated choreographer of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and The Winter’s Tale, created Bound To for San Francisco Ballet’s Unbound festival of new work in 2018. The first ballet Wheeldon has created for dancers in flat shoes, Bound To is a grounded and poetic work that explores one of the great paradoxes of contemporary life – that technology and cell phones do more to isolate and distract us than they do to foster community and social interaction.

Bound To Trailer

Five Things to Know
  1. Christopher Wheeldon is credited with creating full-length ballets for the 21st century, often choosing new stories for adaptation. But he is also celebrated for his shorter, more contemporary pieces and for his work in film and theatre. In 2015, he won a Tony Award for his staging of An American in Paris.
     
  2. Bound To features dancers in flat shoes, a first for Wheeldon as a choreographer. He has said that he made this decision because pointe shoes give the impression of otherworldliness, whereas disconnection is a very human issue and grounded in the world as we know it today.
     
  3. At times Wheeldon addresses our current obsession with technology literally – by having the dancers appear onstage with cell phones. At other times the theme emerges subtly, through partnering, solo work or group dynamics.
     
  4. Bound To features a score by the English musician Keaton Henson in which, as Wheeldon explains, “there’s always a child laughing or the birds or traffic” –things we miss when technology distracts us. Henson is the son of Marguerite Porter, a former Principal Dancer with The Royal Ballet.
     
  5. San Francisco Ballet performed Bound To on tour at Sadler’s Wells Theatre in London, England in June 2019. It was Wheeldon’s 10th world premiere for San Francisco Ballet, with whom he has worked frequently in the past decade.
The Choreorgrapher

Christopher Wheeldon is Artistic Associate of The Royal Ballet, former Resident Choreographer of New York City Ballet and a former dancer with both companies. He is now a multi-award-winning choreographer creating work internationally for ballet, theatre and film. He was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in 2016.

The Composer

Keaton Henson is an English musician, illustrator and poet. In addition to several full-length albums, he has composed music for the London based dance company BalletBoyz as well as Christopher Wheeldon and BBC television.

Reviews

“One of Christopher Wheeldon’s most personal dances.” — San Francisco Chronicle

“In Bound To, Christopher Wheeldon excels, as ever, in meaningful pas de deux.” — The Guardian

The Seasons

Overview

Alexei Ratmansky’s The Seasons is a 2019 co-commission between San Francisco Ballet and American Ballet Theatre, where Ratmansky has been Artist in Residence for more than a decade. Set to Alexander Glazunov’s eponymous score, this colourful work recreates a lost ballet from the great 19th century choreographer Marius Petipa – one of the last of Petipa’s career. With new choreography by Ratmansky, The Seasons pays homage to the rhythms of the natural world, offering spirited dancing, gorgeous costumes and whimsical, symbolic characters.

The Seasons Trailer

Five Things to Know
  1. Alexei Ratmansky created The Seasons to mark his 10th season as Artist in Residence at American Ballet Theatre. He says, “The Seasons is a celebration of American Ballet Theatre and its dancers. It is a declaration of love, expression of gratitude and gift to the company that has been my home for the last decade.”
     
  2. Alexander Glazunov composed The Seasons for a short ballet by Marius Petipa that dates to 1900 and features abstract characters such as “Snow” and “Frost.” Ratmansky has reimagined Petipa’s ballet using his own choreography but retaining the original character names and lush, enlivening score.
     
  3. With a large cast of dancers and overlapping segments from fall, winter, spring and summer, The Seasons is a celebratory work with joyous, fast-paced choreography that both honours and expands the classical vocabulary.
     
  4. Ratmansky is a world leader in choreography with a special interest in preserving and restaging heritage works. He has recreated several Petipa ballets, including The Nutcracker, La Bayadère, The Sleeping Beauty and Harlequinade.
     
  5. Ratmansky created a new adaptation of Romeo and Juliet to mark the 60th anniversary of The National Ballet of Canada in 2011. Also in the National Ballet repertoire are Ratmansky’s Symphony #9 and Piano Concerto #1 from his Shostakovich Trilogy and his Russian Seasons.
The Choreographer

Born in St. Petersburg, Alexei Ratmansky is a choreographer and former ballet dancer. He is Artist in Residence at American Ballet Theatre and former Artistic Director of The Bolshoi Ballet. He has created new work for the world’s top ballet companies, including Mariinsky Ballet, The Royal Danish Ballet, Royal Swedish Ballet, Het Nationale Ballet and New York City Ballet.

The Composer

Alexander Glazunov was a Russian composer and conductor of the late Romantic style. His oeuvre includes symphonies, concertos for multiple instruments and ballets, including Marius Petipa’s Raymonda. Glazunov was also a notable music professor and conductor.

Reviews

“The complexity of Ratmansky’s choreography is a feast for the eyes and Alexander Glazunov’s eponymous score is a feast for the ears.” — Bachtrack

The Seasons was a demonstration of Ratmansky’s inexhaustible capacity for dance invention… So much is taking place that sometimes you don’t know where to look, and yet everything seems relaxed, easy. There’s so much to absorb that a second viewing is almost a new experience.” —Observer

San Francisco Ballet View Gallery

Credits

Rodeo: Four Dance Episodes

Choreography:
Justin Peck

Music:
Aaron Copland

Staged by:
Craig Hall

Costume Design:
Reid Bartelme, Harriet Jung and Justin Peck

Lighting Design:
Brandon Stirling Baker

Bound To

Choreography:
Christopher Wheeldon

Music:
Keaton Henson

Scenic and Costume Design:
Jean-Marc Puissant

Projection Design:
Jean-Marc Puissant and Alexander V. Nichols

Lighting Design:
James F. Ingalls

The Seasons

Choreography:
Alexei Ratmansky

Music:
Alexander Glazunov

Costume Design:
Robert Perdziola

Lighting Design:
Mark Stanley

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