If the horror of Covid has done anything good for dance it is in taking it onto new stages and stretching the creativity of choreographers to work within rules that no-one would have imagined before 2020. San Francisco Ballet’s new dance film, Dance of Dreams, , including famous San Francisco locations such as the Palace of Fine Arts, the Golden Gate National Recreation Area and the shores of Sausalito. Social distancing rules were observed during the filming process, and the pas de deux are performed by dancers who had been isolating together.
“Here in San Francisco, we’re still sheltering in place and I wanted to explore new work under these circumstances,” stated San Francisco Ballet artistic director, Helgi Tomasson. “Dance of Dreams celebrates San Francisco, while giving our dancers the freedom to move outdoors in some of the most beautiful landscapes in the Bay Area, and with choreography by some of the finest choreographers of our time.”
The six-minute film was directed by Benjamin Millepied and features San Francisco Ballet dancers performing choreography by Justin Peck, Dwight Rhoden, Janie Taylor, and Christopher Wheeldon. It is set to Scène D’Amour by Bernard Hermann from Vertigo, Alfred Hitchcock’s San Francisco–based thriller film from 1958, played by members of SF Ballet Orchestra.
In Dance of Dreams, San Francisco - in its fifth month shelter-in-place restrictions - plays a supporting role that underlines the power of San Francisco Ballet’s dancers. The film is choreographed for six dancers, with solos for principal dancers, Joseph Walsh and Frances Chung, that are choreographed by Peck and Taylor, respectively; and two pas de deux - one for soloists, Ellen Rose Hummel and Daniel Deivison-Oliveira, choreographed by Rhoden, the other for soloist, Madison Keesler and principal dancer, Benjamin Freemantle, choreographed by Wheeldon.
Director, Benjamin Millepied, is a choreographer, filmmaker, and artistic director with an impressive career as a dancer at New York City Ballet in his story. He founded L.A. Dance Project in 2012. Millepied and Tomasson’s professional relationship began two decades ago at New York City Ballet (NYCB), when Millepied danced a principal role in Tomasson’s Prism. He created his first work for SF Ballet in 2017 and is now artistic director of L.A. Dance Project. For Dance of Dreams, Millepied selected the music and settings; Tomasson invited the participation of the four choreographers whose work the film features.
Choreographer, Justin Peck, is resident choreographer and artistic advisor with New York City Ballet (NYCB). Choreographer, Dwight Rhoden, is founding artistic director and resident choreographer of Complexions Contemporary Ballet. Choreographer, Janie Taylor, is a dancer and stager with L.A. Dance Project and a former principal dancer with New York City Ballet.
SF Ballet Orchestra music director, Martin West, mixed and mastered the recording, which incorporates more than 150 tracks recorded remotely by more than 60 musicians from the Orchestra. Millepied and all of the choreographers donated their time, working remotely from their respective locales.
- CANDIDE MCDONALD