Thursday, August 13, 2020

"Dance of Dreams"

A second memorable
Joseph Walsh in Millepied's Dance of Dreams
©San Francisco Ballet
dance film short this month:

On August 13th, San Francisco Ballet released their new choreographic-cinematic collaboration, Dance of Dreams, directed by Benjamin Millepied. Unfolding in four picturesque outdoor San Francisco sites, Dance of Dreams has a truly epic, almost romantic tone, as if you were watching an escapist moment from a classic Hollywood stunner. 

Scored by Bernard Herrmann’s sweeping Scène D’Amour featured in Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo (1958), Millepied’s six-minute film takes a solo-duet-solo-duet form (the duets were performed by dancers who have been weathering s-i-p together), each section choreographed by a different dancemaker. Joseph Walsh glides through a liquid sequence by Justin Peck, followed by a luxurious pas de deux for Ellen Rose Hummel and Daniel Deivison-Oliveira by Dwight Rhoden. Frances Chung floats and suspends through a solo by Janie Taylor with Christopher Wheeldon offering the final energetic chapter for Madison Keesler and Benjamin Freemantle.

Ellen Rose Hummel and Daniel Deivison-Oliveira in
Millepied's Dance of Dreams
©San Francisco Ballet
Though each choreographic voice was and is wholly distinct, a number of striking threads link Dance of Dream’s four episodes together. Yes, the San Francisco connection of course. But so much more. First is the common mood and atmosphere. Each vignette shared the same sense of isolation, though it was not despondent in any regard. Instead, each cast member imbued their choreography with a heartening wistfulness. Openness was palpable as was potential. Second was the abundance of arcs and roundedness. Classical and contemporary vocabulary dove deeply into circular movement – port de bras, whirling lifts, spins in succession, undulating torsos, jumping turns in the air, patterns and circuits. Walsh’s attitude turn was a stand out moment, the step rotating backwards as if a clock was rewinding to an earlier time. And the spin at the end of Hummel and Deivison-Oliveira’s duet was absolutely breathtaking. Facing each other, Hummel wrapped her arms around Deivison-Oliveira’s neck as her legs flew out behind her. All while rolling fog and sweeping wind flooded the scene.

And there was an instant at the end of each solo that felt profound. Walsh and Chung took a moment in stillness to gaze longingly at the vista before them. They looked as though they were considering ‘what might be next’ or ‘what could be’ with expressions of hope and want. Dance of Dreams would then pivot into one of the duets. It was as if those duets were the soloist’s dreams. A moment to engage with another soul. To clasp hands and create movement together. Such a beautiful and uplifting message.

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