From April 20–May 6 2018, San Francisco Ballet will host a festival featuring an impressive roster of top choreographers.
SFB artistic director Helgi Tomasson has chosen choreographers with massive reputations and tons of experience. The full lineup is as follows: David Dawson, Alonzo King, Edwaard Liang, Annabelle Lopez Ochoa, Cathy Marston, Trey McIntyre, Justin Peck, Arthur Pita, Yuri Possokhov, Dwight Rhoden, Stanton Welch, and Christopher Wheeldon. These artists have, collectively, worked with a tremendous variety of dance companies around the world. Their stylistic approaches are just as diverse.
There are several things to celebrate about this group. King, who has been the artistic director of San Francisco–based Alonzo King LINES Ballet since 1982, has (surprisingly) never made a ballet for SFB. It's high time the two major San Francisco companies pooled their powers. There is some racial diversity, with King, Rhoden, Ochoa and Liang representing decades of experience and leadership. Former Royal Opera House associate artist Cathy Marston seems to be receiving her first nod from a major American ballet company, despite a two-decade, international choreographic career (she has created for The Washington Ballet).
But, as usual, there are so few (too few) women. Recent conversations about gender parity in the ballet world might make it seem like female choreographers are only just now appearing—that there aren't women who can match the men in terms of an impressive resume. But that's not the case. Artists like Helen Pickett, Francesca Harper, Crystal Pite, Emery LeCrone, Jessica Lang, Azure Barton and Amy Seiwert have been around for a while, quietly creating for companies around the world, and oddly overlooked by most large American companies. It would have been great to see a few more experienced women alongside their accomplished male counterparts.