Cathy Marston on Creating Snowblind

British choreographer Cathy Marston drew from Edith Wharton’s novella Ethan Frome to create a stunning character study of a doomed love triangle in a repressive New England winter. Here she discusses creating Snowblind for SF Ballet’s Unbound festival of new works. Snowblind is on Program 03 (In Space & Time) of SF Ballet’s 2019 Season, running Feb 14–24.

 

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Header photo: San Francisco Ballet rehearsing Marston’s Snowblind // © Erik Tomasson

Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming Trailer

 

ABOUT JUSTIN PECK

Justin Peck (© Ryan Pfluger)

Choreographer 

Justin Peck is Resident Choreographer and a Soloist Dancer with New York City Ballet (NYCB). Peck joined NYCB in 2006 and was promoted to Soloist in 2013. He began choreographing in 2009 at the New York Choreographic Institute. In 2014, after the creation of Everywhere We Go, Peck was appointed Resident Choreographer of NYCB. He has created more than 30 ballets, which have been performed by Paris Opera Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, Miami City Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet, LA Dance Project, Dutch National Ballet, The Joffrey Ballet, Houston Ballet, and Pennsylvania Ballet. In 2014, Peck was the subject of the documentary Ballet 422, which followed him as he created Paz de la Jolla, NYCB’s 422nd original dance. Peck choreographed the 2018 Broadway revival of Carousel, for which he was awarded the 2018 Tony Award for Best Choreography.  In addition, Peck choreographed the feature film Red Sparrow, and will be creating new choreography for the upcoming film remake of West Side Story, directed by Steven Spielberg. His Rodeo: Four Dance Episodes won the Bessie Award for Outstanding Production in 2015. Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming from the 2018 Unbound festival was Peck’s second work created for SF Ballet; his first was In the Countenance of Kings.

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Justin Peck on Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming

Justin Peck, inspired by the light of San Francisco, crafted an ever-changing dreamscape in Hurry Up We’re Dreaming, set to music of the electronic group M83. Here he discusses creating this ballet for the 2018 Unbound festival of New Works. 

 

ABOUT JUSTIN PECK

Justin Peck (© Ryan Pfluger)

Choreographer 

Justin Peck is Resident Choreographer and a Soloist Dancer with New York City Ballet (NYCB). Peck joined NYCB in 2006 and was promoted to Soloist in 2013. He began choreographing in 2009 at the New York Choreographic Institute. In 2014, after the creation of Everywhere We Go, Peck was appointed Resident Choreographer of NYCB. He has created more than 30 ballets, which have been performed by Paris Opera Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, Miami City Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet, LA Dance Project, Dutch National Ballet, The Joffrey Ballet, Houston Ballet, and Pennsylvania Ballet. In 2014, Peck was the subject of the documentary Ballet 422, which followed him as he created Paz de la Jolla, NYCB’s 422nd original dance. Peck choreographed the 2018 Broadway revival of Carousel, for which he was awarded the 2018 Tony Award for Best Choreography.  In addition, Peck choreographed the feature film Red Sparrow, and will be creating new choreography for the upcoming film remake of West Side Story, directed by Steven Spielberg. His Rodeo: Four Dance Episodes won the Bessie Award for Outstanding Production in 2015. Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming from the 2018 Unbound festival was Peck’s second work created for SF Ballet; his first was In the Countenance of Kings.

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Dance Film: Snowblind

This short dance film, inspired by Cathy Marston’s Snowblind, was made in late 2017, after the ballet had been choreographed but before its premiere at the 2018 Unbound festival. The film shows both the stark setting and the desperate love triangle between the three characters from Edith Wharton’s novel Ethan Frome, on which the ballet is based: Ethan, a farmer trapped in a loveless marriage; Zeena, his older, hypochondriac wife; and Mattie, Zeena’s beautiful young helper. Directed by Mark Kohr and featuring Principal Dancers Mathilde Froustey (Mattie), Sarah Van Patten (Zeena), and Ulrik Birkkjaer (Ethan), this dance film zeroes in on the emotion behind the movement of Cathy Marston’s ballet.

Snowblind is part of SF Ballet’s Program 03, In Space & Time, which runs from February 14–24, 2019.

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The Story of Don Quixote

PROLOGUE

Don Quixote is in his study, engrossed in a book about ancient chivalry. He falls asleep and dreams that he is a knight defending his ideal woman, Dulcinea. While he sleeps, Sancho Panza bursts through the door. The gluttonous Sancho has stolen a ham, and a group of exasperated housewives is pursuing him. Startled by the commotion, Don Quixote turns the angry women out of the room. An idea then comes to him: He will make Sancho his squire, and together they will set out on an adventure to defend virtue and punish those who don’t uphold the code of chivalry.

Jim Sohm and Pascal Molat in Tomasson/Possokhov’s Don Quixote // © Erik Tomasson

ACT I: A SQUARE IN BARCELONA

At a square in Barcelona, festivities and dancing are taking place. Kitri, daughter of the innkeeper, professes her love for Basilio, a barber.

Frances Chung as Kitri in Tomasson/Possokhov’s Don Quixote

Kitri’s father Lorenzo spots the lovers in the crowd and separates them, insisting that Kitri will marry the wealthy, foppish nobleman Gamache. Don Quixote and Sancho Panza’s arrival in the square causes a commotion. When Don Quixote sees Kitri, he mistakes her for Dulcinea, and the two briefly dance a minuet. At the height of the merriment, Kitri and Basilio sneak off, pursued by Don Quixote, Sancho Panza, Lorenzo and Gamache.


ACT I I , SCENE 1: THE SPANISH COUNTRYSIDE

Kitri and Basilio meet a group of pastoral nomads in a field of windmills and are warmly welcomed to their celebration. Kitri and Basilio hide just before Don Quixote, Sancho Panza, Gamache, and Lorenzo arrive on horseback at the same spot. Don Quixote, Sancho Panza, Gamache, and Lorenzo are invited to watch a puppet show.

San Francisco Ballet in Tomasson/Possokhov’s Don Quixote // © Chris Hardy

During the performance, Don Quixote mistakes the puppet heroine for Dulcinea. With sword in hand, he rushes to defend her, destroying the puppet stage. Confused, he thinks a nearby windmill is a threatening giant and strikes at it. Caught by its sail, Don Quixote is hurled to the ground and falls into a deep sleep.


ACT I I , SCENE 2: THE DREAM

Don Quixote dreams he is a knight surrounded by forest nymphs and cupids; in the dream, Kitri symbolizes his ideal woman, Dulcinea.

At sunrise, Sancho Panza, Lorenzo, and Gamache arrive, interrupting his dream. Now sympathetic to the young lovers’ situation, Don Quixote attempts to lead Lorenzo and Gamache astray.


ACT I I , SCENE 3: A TAVERN

Don Quixote, Sancho Panza, Gamache, and Lorenzo finally catch up with Kitri and Basilio in a tavern.

Sarah Van Patten in Tomasson/Possokhov’s Don Quixote // © Erik Tomasson

Once again Lorenzo insists Kitri accept Gamache’s proposal. In response, Basilio fakes suicide. Kitri begs Don Quixote to persuade Lorenzo let her marry Basilio—it was the young man’s final wish before his death. When Don Quixote threatens Lorenzo with his sword, he gives his consent and blesses the lovers. Instantly Basilio comes back to life.


ACT III: THE WEDDING

There is much merrymaking as the village celebrates the marriage of Kitri and Basilio. With Don Quixote as the guest of honor, the happy lovers dance for him.

Mathilde Froustey in Tomasson/Possokhov’s Don Quixote. (© Erik Tomasson)

Don Quixote congratulates them, then bids farewell to all. Together with Sancho Panza, Don Quixote continues on his adventures.

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Header photo: Angelo Greco and Mathilde Froustey // © Erik Tomasson

A Sensory-Friendly Ballet Experience: SF Ballet Partners with Autism Fun Bay Area

For the past three years, San Francisco Ballet has partnered with Autism Fun Bay Area to provide sensory-friendly ballet workshops for children and young adults with autism and related disabilities and their families. The workshops’ goal is to make ballet accessible to individuals and families affected by autism and related disabilities. Particularly popular is our annual Nutcracker Sensory-Friendly Family Workshop.

 

San Francisco Ballet’s Sensory Friendly Family workshop. (© Erik Tomasson)

Every aspect of the workshop is carefully planned with our audience in mind. Events are engaging, interactive, and hands-on—a shush-free and shame-free environment for families to experience a ballet performance and movement class that is specifically tailored to the sensory and behavioral needs of the individuals. The workshops include a shortened performance featuring professional dancers with San Francisco Ballet as well as SF Ballet School Trainees. After the performance, families are invited to participate in a movement workshop led by an SF Ballet School Faculty member.

San Francisco Ballet’s Sensory Friendly Family workshop. (© Erik Tomasson)

Families also have the opportunity to meet and take photos with dancers, try on a tutu, and explore tactile activity tables with costumes and ballet shoes. Throughout the workshop, families are encouraged to walk around the studio and explore movement, use the social stories guide, and visit the quiet room.

Autism Fun Bay Area Co-Founder Sigrid Van Bladel, a mother of a teen with autism, explains that “having these dedicated performances tailored to them where everyone can feel good, parents don’t have to be nervous, and kids can be themselves … is just unbelievably valuable.” When she and her concert pianist husband created Autism Fun Bay Area in 2012, their goal was to bring high-quality music and dance to families who are unable to attend regular performances due to sensory challenges. By working with arts organizations such as SF Ballet, Autism Fun Bay Area is able to modify the traditional theater experience for the special needs community.

Header Image: SF Ballet’s Sensory-Friendly Family Workshop // © Erik Tomasson