San Francisco Ballet Gala
“What is dance now?” artistic director Helgi Tomasson asked in the middle of San Francisco Ballet’s gala, making a pitch for the massively ambitious Unbound Festival that will crown this company’s 85thseason with 12 world premieres by 12 international choreographers unveiled in four days. If we may recast Tomasson’s question a bit more specifically, to “What is ballet now?”, this was a perfect question for the moment.
Sturm und Drang—2017 saw the dance world roiling with it, both on and off the stage. Israel’s culture minister hit the headlines for refusing arts funding to performances involving nudity; Palestinian-Syrian refugee Ahmad Joudeh made a prominent debut with the Dutch National Ballet after fleeing death threats from Islamic State; discord boiled over in Moscow as the director of the Bolshoi’s long-awaited “Nureyev” was placed under house arrest on what many suspect are trumped-up charges intended to punish him for celebrating the life of a gay man on stage—a conspicuous challenge to Putin’s ban on so-called ‘homosexual propaganda.’
Snow White outstretched in her glass coffin. A company of black-veiled figures gathered round. Before long she is dragged into life and her gory fate at the hands of her cruel stepmother is played out before the audience.