Ballet Stars
From left: Jennifer Stahl, Lonnie Weeks and Sasha De Sola in rehearsal for Trey McIntyre's new work. Photo by Christian Peacock for Pointe.

Photography by Christian Peacock

Summer is always a lively time at San Francisco Ballet, as the dancers return from vacation and launch into rehearsals for the upcoming season. But last July through September felt absolutely electric with creativity as the company created 12 world premieres for Unbound: A Festival of New Works, a cutting-edge program that will run April 20–May 6 at the War Memorial Opera House.

Artistic director Helgi Tomasson invited a wish list of international choreographers to participate: David Dawson, Alonzo King, Edwaard Liang, Annabelle Lopez Ochoa, Cathy Marston, Trey McIntyre, Justin Peck, Arthur Pita, Dwight Rhoden, Myles Thatcher, Stanton Welch and Christopher Wheeldon. Each got about 12 dancers, three weeks' studio time and, aside from a few general guidelines, total artistic freedom.

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Ballet Careers
Johnston rehearsing her ballet "Filamentous." Photo by Erik Tomasson, Courtesy SFB.

Blake Johnston couldn't have planned a better year to join San Francisco Ballet. Not only has she dreamt of dancing for SFB since entering the company school in 2013, but the first-year corps member is also an aspiring choreographer. For Johnston, rehearsals for SFB's Unbound: A Festival of New Works means diving into a deep pool of creativity.

"I get to see all these new people, the whole process," Johnston, 21, says between rehearsals. "If I have a five-minute break, I'll run into the hallway to see if anything is happening."

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popular
Photo by Erik Tomasson, Courtesy SFB.

It may be the middle of summer, but San Francisco Ballet is already rehearsing for its spring season. There's a lot to prepare for—the company's Unbound: A Festival of New Works, which runs April 20–May 6, 2018, will feature 12 new ballets by 12 choreographers. And it's an impressive group of dancemakers: David Dawson, Alonzo King, Edwaard Liang, Annabelle Lopez Ochoa, Cathy Marston, Trey McIntyre, Justin Peck, Arthur Pita, Dwight Rhoden, Myles Thatcher, Stanton Welch and Christopher Wheeldon. That's a lot of choreography to pack in!


Stanton Welch in rehearsal with San Francisco Ballet. Photo by Erik Tomasson, Courtesy SFB.

Luckily, we don't have to wait until spring to get a sneak peek of some of these new works. SFB is kicking off Unbound: LIVE, a series of live-stream events that will take us inside rehearsals. The first one is Wednesday, July 26, at 5:30 pm Pacific Standard Time (8:30 EST). It will highlight rehearsals with Arthur Pita, Edwaard Liang and Stanton Welch. You can expect to see the dancers perform excerpts of their works in progress, as well as interviews with each choreographer.


Artur Pita in rehearsal. Photo by Erik Tomasson, Courtesy SFB.

Visit SFB's website or its Facebook page tomorrow night to watch. And if you miss it, no worries—it'll be accessible on the company's site and YouTube channel for 60 days. The other live-stream events have yet to be announced, but we'll be sure to keep you posted!

News
NYCB's Teresa Reichlen in Schumacher's Clearing Dawn. Photo by Paul Kolnik, Courtesy NYCB.

New York City Ballet's fall season is packed with world premieres, including three by choreographers who have never made work for the company.

NYCB resident choreographer Justin Peck and corps member Troy Schumacher will each create a new ballet. Schumacher's second piece for NYCB will feature a commissioned score from Ellis Ludwig-Leone, the music director for Schumacher's Ballet Collective and the frontman of the band San Fermin. Peck's new work will feature Steve Reich's Variations for Vibes, Pianos and Strings.

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Ballet Stars
Ratmansky (right) advising Thatcher after rehearsal at the San Francisco Ballet studios. Photo by Reto Albertalli, Courtesy Rolex.

A rehearsal viewing can be daunting for any young choreographer. But when the person watching you work is Alexei Ratmansky, one of the world's greatest living choreographers, it could easily be overwhelming.

“We had a five-hour rehearsal, and he sat on the marley and took notes the whole time," recalls San Francisco Ballet corps member Myles Thatcher. The 24-year-old burgeoning choreographer was creating Spectrum on SFB School students for the annual showcase last spring when Ratmansky paid a visit. Thatcher felt nervous, but he needn't have been—Ratmansky had just chosen him for a year of one-on-one mentoring through the 2014–15 Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative.

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