Ballet, for the most part, is seen as a classical art. Traditionally, ballet is fluid, graceful and delicate. The San Francisco Ballet’s performance at the Kennedy Center was all of this and so much more. The show was modern, unique and dramatic — a fun ballet for all ages.
The San Francisco Ballet performed its two-part program in Washington, D.C., last week. The second program featured three unique performances: The Infinite Ocean, Snowblind and Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming.
The first piece, The Infinite Ocean, was the most classical ballet performance out of the three. Choreographer Edwaard Liang describes the concept of the infinite ocean as the “space between life and death.”
The dancers represent traveling spirits that have to let go of whatever is tying them to the physical world. The dancers are connecting and disconnecting with each other throughout The Infinite Ocean.
The performance was incredibly fluid. When the troupe was dancing together, they were almost perfectly in sync, moving like one body. With a full, live orchestra behind the dancers, The Infinite Ocean was a beautiful exhibit of pure, classical ballet talent.
Snowblind tells the story of a dark and haunting love triangle from Edith Wharton’s 1911 novel Ethan Frome. Ethan, a poor farmer, has a hypochondriac wife, Zeena, who is constantly sickly and unhappy. Ethan falls for their young and beautiful maid, Mattie, creating a tense dynamic.
The three main dancers are supported by background dancers representing a snowstorm, a metaphor for Ethan and Mattie’s tormentous relationship. The ending to the performance is purposely vague, but somehow, Ethan and Mattie attempt suicide together.
The dancers personify the characters in their movements. The way Zeena walks and dances, you can tell she is in pain. Mattie and Ethan’s dances together are filled with tension and desire, touching and not touching, trying to stay away from each other but failing. The story is haunting and emotional — but told beautifully through the dance.
The last performance, Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming, was set to electronic music by the band M83. The performance was upbeat, with fast-paced music and holographic costumes. Also, all the dancers were wearing white tennis shoes. Sneakers made the dancers relax a bit, and take greater risks than when dancing on pointe shoes.
Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming was very unique — more hip-hop type dancing, but still graceful and recognizable as a ballet. It was a perfect way to end the trio of performances.
The best aspect of the San Francisco Ballet’s performance was that it was split into three parts — each unique from the others. It was much more engaging to tell multiple stories, instead of performing one long ballet. The variety really showed off the troupe’s abilities.
Seeing the San Francisco Ballet was a moving experience, in many ways. Mainly, it was a reminder of how important it is to get lost every once in a while. For college students especially, it’s easy to get caught up in the stress and business of life. Rarely do we let ourselves get lost in something beautiful, something as simple as bodies dancing and moving across a stage.
Do your mind, body and soul a favor and get lost. Go see a ballet, a play, an art exhibit, a concert — something — and take some time for yourself. Everyone can do this in their own way, but a performance at the Kennedy Center is a great place to start.