The Sun Valley Pavilion has hosted numerous concerts, famous speakers, and on Friday and Sunday, July 5 and 7, it will host 38 company dancers from San Francisco Ballet to perform two different dance programs under the tutelage of Artistic Director Helgi Tomasson. The performance is the eighth for Ballet Sun Valley, which was founded in 2011 to bring world-class ballet performances to the Sun Valley area.
Program A, which hits the stage on July 5, will present an evening of mixed repertory work and pas de deux, while Program B, performed on July 7, will feature three ballets from the 2018 Unbound Festival of New Works. Festival conductor Maestro Martin West is recognized as one of the world's foremost ballet conductors.
Ballet Sun Valley has brought performances by the San Francisco Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, New York City Ballet, The Royal Danish Ballet, The Royal Ballet in London, The Paris Opera Ballet and the Mariinsky Ballet in St. Petersburg, Russia, to the Pavilion stage. Its first performance for the company in 2012 featured 20 dancers from San Francisco Ballet, and Artistic Director Tomasson praised the Pavilion as an extraordinarily beautiful venue.
Isabella Boylston—a principal dancer at American Ballet Theatre in New York and a native of Sun Valley—approached Ballet Sun Valley with the idea of doing a festival performed by dancers from a variety of international ballet companies. Boylston achieved her dream with Ballet Sun Valley by putting on the first independent dancer Festival in August of 2017, with dancers like Misty Copeland (ABT), Tiler Peck (NY City Ballet), Kimin Kim (Mariinsky Ballet) and Ida Pretorius (Royal Danish Ballet). Boylston returned as artistic director of the 2018 festival, as well.
July 5 and 7 Performances
On July 5, dancers will present Program A, seven dances including a 30-minute ballet choreographed by Tomasson and six other classical and neo-classical, shorter dances, including "UnSaid," choreographed by Danielle Rowe. Rowe was tapped by Tomasson to create "UnSaid" for the San Francisco Ballet Opening Gala in January, where it had its world premiere.
The former dancer with Nederlands Dance Theater, Australian Ballet, and Houston Ballet, and now associate artistic director for SF Dance Works, will stage "UnSaid" on the festival's first night. The piece was inspired by a quote from a book Rowe loves, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close: "We had everything to say to each other, but no ways to say it."
"That was really the inspiration behind the duet," Rowe said. "A couple that have been together for a long time and so much has happened that they don't really know where to start and how to communicate with each other, almost like being in the same room as each other but living completely different lives from each other."
The piece features two dancers to the music of Ezio Bosso, portraying a couple whose passionate affair waxes and wanes.
On July 7, Program B will feature three works from San Francisco Ballet's 2018 Unbound Festival of New Works. Dancing in the piece "Hurry Up, We're Dreaming" is Rowe's husband and San Francisco Ballet dancer Luke Ingham. Choreographed by Justin Peck and set to the music of M83, this piece departs from traditional ballet.
"The piece I'll be in is unique; it's set to pop music and we're actually dancing in tennis shoes," Ingham said.
Since 2012, Ballet Sun Valley has offered education to young ballet dancers in the area, with acclaimed dancers visiting for performances also offering a few classes. In 2018, over 150 students from 17 states took part. Programs include various levels of ballet, jazz, choreography, and, in conjunction with local nonprofit Higher Ground, a class for children with special needs.
This year, dancers and faculty from San Francisco Ballet will teach for three days in all levels of ballet, contemporary dance and choreography. With the support of Ballet Sun Valley sponsors, all classes are free and overlap with the Festival, taking place July 5-7. Rowe herself will teach the choreography workshops.
"I will be using techniques that I use when I choreograph; ways to come up with different movements and trying to pass on that information to the students," Rowe said. "But, of course, choreography is so personal. We'll use those techniques to make it their own and see what they come up with. We'll put everything together and try to construct a mini performance by the end of the three days."
In partnership with Boston Ballet School and Higher Ground, the education program will include a three-day adaptive dance education program and a two-day teacher training program on how to use dance as therapy.
How to Attend
Tickets are still available to see one or both ballet performances at the Pavilion or the Pavilion lawn where Sun Valley's Jumbotron makes it feel like you're inside. Lawn tickets are $25 and children 10 and under are free with a ticketed adult. The lawn opens at 6:30 p.m. each night and custom picnic baskets catered by the Short Line Deli are available for pre-purchase (or bring your own).
Tickets inside the pavilion range from $50-$500, and are available at balletsunvalley.com.