San Francisco Ballet announces the premiere of Dance of Dreams, a new dance film directed by Benjamin Millepied, featuring San Francisco Ballet dancers performing choreography by Justin Peck, Dwight Rhoden, Janie Taylor, and Christopher Wheeldon. Filmed in iconic San Francisco locations including the Palace of Fine Arts and the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, the new six-minute film 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. “The connection of this company to the people of San Francisco is so strong. It’s a die-hard audience,” says director Benjamin Millepied. “Dance of Dreams is a moment of dancing, a moment of reconnecting dancers to the city and the thing they love most.” Click here to see the film trailer. “Here in San Francisco, we’re still sheltering in place and I wanted to explore new work under these circumstances. 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,” says SF Ballet Artistic Director Helgi Tomasson. “Benjamin [Millepied] felt like a natural fit to direct this project. I am thrilled to be able to work with him in a capacity that integrates his background in film and cinematography with dance.”
Dance of Dreams offers a glimpse of San Francisco as the city enters its fifth month of shelter-in-place restrictions. The film is choreographed for six dancers, including solos for Principal Dancers Joseph Walsh and Frances Chung, choreographed by Peck and Taylor, respectively; and pas de deux for Soloists Ellen Rose Hummel and Daniel Deivison-Oliveira, choreographed by Rhoden, and Soloist Madison Keesler and Principal Dancer Benjamin Freemantle, choreographed by Wheeldon. 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. With this project, the Company enters an era of unprecedented digital engagement via uncharted territories, grappling with what is lost while ushering in new future possibilities. Millepied and all of the choreographers generously donated their time, working remotely from their respective locales.
The film begins with Joseph Walsh on the grounds of the iconic San Francisco Art Institute in movements that suggest a yearning for what the past and future hold: community, connection, and love. Shifting to an evening scene beside the Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco’s foggy weather greets Hummel and Deivison-Oliveira, leading to Chung in solitude against the rugged shores of Sausalito. Among the swells and sonorities of Hermann’s “Scène D’Amour,” the film ends at the Palace of Fine Arts, a location featured in the film Vertigo. Keesler and Freemantle offer a closing pas de deux—an ode to perseverance through challenging times.
Social distancing rules were observed during the filming process, and the pas de deux are danced by dancers who have been sheltered in place together. Dance of Dreams will be available to the public at 12 noon U.S. PDT on August 13, 2020 on SF Ballet @ Home, YouTube, Facebook, and IGTV.
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 as part of NYCB’s 2000 Diamond Project IV. Millepied began choreographing while at New York City Ballet and created his first work for SF Ballet—set to John Adams’ “The Chairman Dances”—in 2017. He is now Artistic Director of L.A. Dance Project, and his career has expanded to include filmmaking; he founded The Amoveo Company, a multimedia production company, in 2012. For Dance of Dreams, Millepied selected the music and settings; Tomasson invited the participation of the four choreographers whose work the film features.
Director Benjamin Millepied is a choreographer, filmmaker, and artistic director distinguished by his career as a dancer at New York City Ballet and his growing body of creative work. Born in Bordeaux, France, Millepied trained with his mother, Catherine Flori; at the Conservatoire National de Lyon; and at the School of American Ballet before becoming a principal dancer with New York City Ballet. His choreography is performed by New York City Ballet, Paris Opera Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, Berlin Staatsoper, Mariinsky Ballet, among many others, and was featured in Darren Aronofsky’s award-winning film Black Swan, in which he also starred. Millepied founded the L.A. Dance Project in 2012. In 2013, he was appointed director of Paris Opera Ballet, where he was the subject of the documentary film Reset. He returned to Los Angeles in 2016 to focus on L.A. Dance Project and his own choreography and filmmaking. Among many awards and honors, Millepied was made a Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters by the French Ministry of Culture.
Choreographer Justin Peck is Resident Choreographer and Artistic Advisor 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 also served as a member of NYCB’s interim artistic team from December 2017 until his appointment as Artistic Advisor in February 2019. He has created more than 30 ballets, which have been performed by Paris Opera Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, Miami City Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet, L.A. 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. Peck created his first work for SF Ballet, In the Countenance of Kings, in 2017. His second work for the Company—Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming—was created for the 2018 Unbound: A.
Choreographer Dwight Rhoden is founding artistic director and resident choreographer of Complexions Contemporary Ballet. Born in Dayton, Ohio, he performed with Dayton Contemporary Dance Company, Les Ballets Jazz De Montréal, and as a principal dancer with Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. He has choreographed for New York City Ballet, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Aspen Santa Fe Ballet, BalletMet, Colorado Ballet, Dance Theatre of Harlem, Dayton Contemporary Dance Company, The Joffrey Ballet, Miami City Ballet, Pennsylvania Ballet, Philadanco, Pittsburgh Ballet Theater, The Washington Ballet, Ballet Nice Mediterranean, Rome Opera Ballet, and Tulsa Ballet, among others. Rhoden has directed and choreographed for television, film, and theater, including So You Think You Can Dance, Cirque du Soleil, world tours for Prince and Lenny Kravitz, and the feature film One Last Dance. Rhoden was nominated for a Benois de la Danse Award for his The Great Gatsby for the Mariinsky Ballet. He’s been an artist in residence at USC Kaufman, Boston Conservatory, The Juilliard School, New York University, and Southern Methodist University. Honors include a New York Foundation for the Arts award, induction in the NYFA Hall of Fame, the Choo-San Goh Award for Choreography, and an Honorary Doctorate from Boston Conservatory. Rhoden created LET’S BEGIN AT THE END, his first work for SF Ballet, for Unbound: A Festival of New Works in 2018.
Choreographer Janie Taylor is a dancer and stager with L.A. Dance Project and a former principal dancer with New York City Ballet. Born in Houston, she trained in Texas and Louisiana before attending the School of American Ballet in New York, where she received the Mae L. Wien Award. She joined New York City Ballet in 1998, and was promoted to soloist in 2001 and principal dancer in 2005. Taylor appeared in the 2000 feature film Center Stage. Since retiring from the New York City Ballet in 2014, she has staged ballets on companies around the world. She has also started a career in design, creating costumes for New York City Ballet and L.A. Dance Project. In 2016, she joined L.A. Dance Project as a dancer and rehearsal director.
Choreographer Christopher Wheeldon, OBE, trained at The Royal Ballet School and danced with The Royal Ballet and New York City Ballet (NYCB). Wheeldon was named NYCB’s first resident choreographer in 2001 and has since created works for many of the world’s major ballet companies. He founded Morphoses/The Wheeldon Company in 2007. Wheeldon now serves as artistic associate of The Royal Ballet, where choreography credits include Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and The Winter’s Tale. He choreographed Dance of the Hours for Ponchielli’s La Gioconda and Richard Eyre’s Carmen for the Metropolitan Opera, as well as a special excerpt for the London 2012 Olympics Closing Ceremony, ballet sequences for the film Center Stage, and the Broadway musical Sweet Smell of Success. In 2014, Wheeldon directed and choreographed the musical An American in Paris, for which he won the Tony Award for Best Choreography and Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Choreography and Direction. Other recent credits include a reimagination of The Nutcracker for The Joffrey Ballet, a gala presentation of Lerner & Loewe’s Brigadoon starring Kelli O’Hara and Patrick Wilson at New York City Center, the premiere of Corybantic Games with The Royal Ballet, and productions of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland in Tokyo, The Winter’s Tale with The Bolshoi Ballet, and a re-staged version of Cinderella for the English National Ballet at The Royal Albert Hall. Among Wheeldon’s awards are two Olivier awards for Aeternum and Polyphonia, and two Benois de la Danse awards for Cinderella and The Winter’s Tale, as well as the Martin E. Segal Award, American Choreography Award, a Dance Magazine Award, multiple London Critics’ Circle Awards, and the Léonide Massine Prize for new choreography. In 2016, Wheeldon was named an OBE and made an Honorary Fellow of American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
San Francisco Ballet, long recognized for pushing boundaries in dance, has enjoyed a long and rich tradition of artistic “firsts” since its founding in 1933, including performing the first American productions of Swan Lake and Nutcracker, as well as the first 20th-century American Coppélia. SF Ballet is one of the three largest ballet companies in the United States and currently presents more than 100 performances annually, both locally and internationally. The mission of SF Ballet is to share its joy of dance with the widest possible audience—in its community and worldwide—and to provide the highest caliber of dance training in its School. Under the direction of Helgi Tomasson, the Company has achieved an international reputation as one of the preeminent ballet companies in the world.
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