“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.
“Frankenstein” lumbered its way across the pond last weekend with much hoopla about its creator, Liam Scarlett, being the “youngest choreographer ever to have a full-length ballet commissioned by the Royal Ballet,” and advertisements emphasizing that this co-production between San Francisco Ballet and the Royal is “more a love story than a monster story.”
For his 2009 revamp of San Francisco Ballet’s “Swan Lake,” artistic director Helgi Tomasson added a Prologue. The idea was to make this Odette’s story, but if you ask me it’s still all about Siegfried. We may see Odette first, witnessing her capture by Von Rothbart and transformation into an animal, but Siegfried is still the character who has, as the narratologists might say, “agency.” He’s the one who makes the wrong choice and must pay penance; his is the narrative arc.