FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE/ONLINE POSTING
Friday, October 1, 2021
Contact: Nancy Bertossa
(415) 677-0328 or nancy@sfperformances.org

San Francisco Performances Presents
PIVOT Festival 2021—7th Season
Ghost Stories
The Living Earth Show and Post:ballet

Friday, October 22, 2021 | 7:30pm | $65
Sunday, October 24, 2021 | 5:00pm | $65
Taube Atrium Theater

World Premiere of Lyra
Composed by Samuel Adams
Directed by Robert Dekkers
Filmed by Benjamin Tarquin
Choreographed by Vanessa Thiessen

The performance will be followed by dialogue with artists moderated by KALW radio host and pianist Sarah Cahill.

SAN FRANCISCO, CA—October 1, 2021—Now in its seventh year, San Francisco Performances (SFP) presents PIVOT, created for adventurous audiences interested in unique arts experiences. The 2021 PIVOT Festival will present four programs over the span of October 20-24 at Herbst Theatre and Taube Atrium Theater, the third program being The Living Earth Show and Post:ballet on Fri, October 22, 7:30pm and Sun, October 24, 5pm, both in Taube Atrium Theater. San Francisco Performances presents The Living Earth Show for the sec¬ond time. They first appeared in October 27 with Kronos Quartet and Youth Speaks. Earlier this year, they created a program with composer Danny Clay for our online “Sanctuary” Series. Post:ballet makes its SF Performances debut with Lyra.

Lyra is definitely Post:ballet’s most epic collaboration to date, with a cast of 12 dancers, costume design by Christian Squires, and cinematography/editing by Benjamin Tarquin (who I’ve had the honor of working with frequently over the past year). After creating several short films together, including our Waltz of the Snowflakes and Playing Changes collaborations, it was a thrill to spend three weeks with Ben, choreographer Vanessa Thiessen, and the POST:ballet dance artists in the mountains, deserts, and rivers of California!” —Robert Dekkers, Lyra Director

About Lyra

In 2018, the lead artists embarked on a series of intensive workshops, building the concepts for what was then intended to be a more conventional evening-length performance with live dancers on a proscenium stage. Although many of the core ideas behind the work remain, Lyra is now an entirely different piece, one that utilizes the new visual language Post:ballet and cinematographer Benjamin Tarquin have built as a response to the shapeshifting challenges of COVID-19, synthesized here within the context of live performance. In this sense, this resulting multi-layered, hybrid digital/live experience reflects both the sustained efforts of a growing team of Bay Area collaborators as well as a timely response to the moment.

Lyra is rooted in the classical myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, lovers whose idyllic union is broken by Eurydice’s sudden death. Granted the possibility for reunification, Orpheus journeys to the underworld to return Eurydice to the world of the living, only to lose her once again. This 65-minute production, with its myriad refrains and constellation-like form, owes its debts to L’Orfeo, Claudio Monteverdi’s 1607 operatic setting of the myth. However, the artists’ decision to capture the ballet in the arid landscapes of Eastern California excites a new exploration of how the themes of love, loss, trust, and fallibility provide insight into more urgent issues concerning technology and the natural world.

The Music

Lyra brings to life hybrid digital-acoustic atmospheres that surround the musicians, revealing a composer who is invested in exploring the dramatic potential of technology in ways that highlight, rather than diminish, the resonant beauty of acoustic instruments. Samuel Adams’s score imagines percussionist Andy Meyerson and guitarist Travis Andrews as one single hyperinstrument—a 21st century lyre—whose plucked and hammered sounds are mirrored with layers of computer-generated just-intoned resonance. The result is music that straddles the fragile and often imperceptible line between earthly and digital realms.

With Lyra, Adams creates a unique dialect that displays the harmonic voicings and melodic inflections of American Jazz, the long-range formal planning of Western European concert music, and the glitchy, unpredictable phrase structures of electronic music. The score also reveals a composer deeply influenced by a sense of place and space. Utilizing the expressive pos¬sibilities of Meyer Sound’s spatial sound technology Spacemap Go, the characters of these arid and austerely beautiful landscapes are viscerally heard as the auras of Hades, Olympus, and the rivers of the Greek underworld by way of swirling reverberations, pulsating overtones, and extreme juxtapositions between digital walls of noise and the atmospheric soundscapes of the American West.

At the core of this storytelling lies the virtuosity and multiple intelligences of percussionist Andy Meyerson and guitarist Travis Andrews of The Living Earth Show. Forged in the classical tradition, this intrepid San Francisco-based duo has spent over a decade wrenching open the creative possibilities of percussion and electric guitar and providing the space for artists to make their most ambitious statements. In The Living Earth Show, Adams found the ideal partners to realize a work that incorporates every aspect of his practice and displays his diverse musical language. In this sense, Lyra exhibits a composition that is at once his most personal and his most collaborative.

Adams constructed much of the music in the room with the Post:ballet movement artists. This symbiotic relationship is omnipresent in the score, from the opening 16-minute set of variations entitled Wedding, whose hypnotic formal repetitions were derived from the slowly evolving phrase work Thiessen developed in a 2018 workshop, to the eponymous pas-de-deux between Hades and Persephone, whose tempo Adams pulled from the natural gait of the dancers walking through space.

The final orchestration—scored for guitars, metallic percussion, a deconstructed drum kit, iPhone voice memos, atmospheric field recordings, contrabass and piano samples, and a panoply of digital sounds—is performed this evening from memory by The Living Earth Show.

The Movement

The choreography of Lyra evolved from a literary and thematic character exploration from the canon of Orpheus-inspired texts to phrase-based movement generation in which the artists of Post:ballet developed a physical language unique to the qualities of each character.

The process of movement generation began in 2018 and continued remotely throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Choreographer Vanessa Thiessen worked intimately with the dance artists to develop the core material for the work. Responding to Thiessen’s prompts and bringing their own experiences into the creative process, the resulting performances are both deeply personal and broadly impactful. Using the music as both a motivator of movement and a container for the narrative, the lead artists wove the music, movement, and film together to tell a story that reflects the world in which it was created. This collaborative development process, along with the extension of classical technique into contemporary movement and the transfer of performance from the stage to the outdoors, offers a new perspective of what’s possible in contemporary dance.

The Film

Having worked primarily with street dancers in outdoor settings over the course of his career with YAK Films, cinematographer Benjamin Tarquin has accumulated a wealth of experience creating dynamic and mesmerizing dance films using only natural light. With Lyra, this knowledge is put on display in the luminous landscapes of the Sierra Nevada foothills and along the corridor between Bishop and Alabama Hills in Inyo County, where the film was shot in the summer of 2021.

Utilizing film in the context of a work for dance provides the collaborators unparalleled artistic agency in capturing, illustrating, and transforming narrative, movement, and setting. Mesmerizing drone shots with distinct color palettes become characters in their own right, and Tarquin’s use of slow motion allows time itself to become a flexible, manipulable element of the choreography. The presentation of extended takes, the focus on detail-oriented closeups, and the use of a handheld camera allow the audience to experience movement with a level of intimacy that only film can provide.

The program for the evening will be:
Lyra (World Premiere)

Movements
1. Wedding—Full Company
 I—unison
 II—delay
 III—ricochet
 IV—split
 V—multiply
 VI—rise
 VII—fall
 VIII—unison
2. Interlude No. 1—Atropos
3. Field—Orpheus, Eurydice, Atropos
4. Surface Down—Orpheus, Eurydice
5. Interlude No. 2—Eurydice
6. Canopy—Orpheus, Cerberus
7. Hades and Persephone—Hades, Persophone
8. Ritornello—Orpheus, Eurydice
9. Gymnopédie—Hades, Persephone, Orpheus, Eurydice
10. River—Full Company
11. Interlude No. 3—Hades, Orpheus, Eurydice
12. Surface Up—Hades, Orpheus, Eurydice

Tickets are $65 and are general seating in Taube Atrium Theater. Tickets can be purchased at sfperformances.org or by calling 415.392.2545. Tickets can also be purchased at the door as available including 50% off student rush tickets and 20% off senior rush tickets.

Please note our current health and safety protocols: Per San Francisco city guidelines, SF Performances requires all patrons ages 12 years and older, to show proof of full vaccination with a photo ID to attend performances. Masks will still be required at concerts until further notice. Full details of our safety protocols and practices are available here. Also note that social distanced seating is no longer required at SFP events.

About the Living Earth Show

Celebrating 11 years of “outstanding” (San Francisco Chronicle) and “transcendent” (Charleston City Paper) performances, The Living Earth Show—guitarist Travis Andrews and percussionist Andy Meyerson—is a megaphone and canvas for the world’s most progressive artists. One of the premiere contemporary chamber ensembles in the United States, The Living Earth Show exists to push the boundaries of technical and artistic possi¬bility while amplifying voices, perspectives, and bodies that the classical music tradition has often excluded. The organization uses the tools of experimental classical music to facilitate the creation of their collaborators’ most ambitious musical visions and create work that reflects and responds to our world.

The organization’s most recent live season (2019–20) included performances at the Spoleto Festival USA, Sutro Baths (Tremble Staves: a collaboration with the National Parks Service), Davies Symphony Hall (a collaboration with the San Francisco Girls’ Chorus), The Met Cloisters (Lordship & Bondage: The Birth of the Negro Superman: a collaboration with the Metropolitan Museum of Art), and ODC Theater for a presentation of a festival in honor of The Living Earth Show’s 10th anniversary.

Committed to supporting the next generation of artistic thinkers, The Living Earth Show has been in residence at the Clarice Center at the University of Maryland (2020–21), Stanford University (2019), the University of Michigan Center for World Performance Studies (2019), University of California Davis (2018), and University of South Carolina (2018).

The Living Earth Show has released numerous critically acclaimed albums, including M. Lamar’s Lordship & Bondage: The Birth of the Negro Superman (2019) and the mixed repertoire compendiums Dance Music (2016) and High Art (2013). Upcoming productions include Sahba Aminkia’s Shahnameh: Book of Kings, Sarah Hennies and Terry Berlier’s A Kind of Ache, and the debut album by COMMANDO: a nü metal project organized by The Living Earth Show foregrounding some of the most legendary LGBTQIA POC rappers, singers, and yellers in the country.

About POST:ballet

Post:ballet is a contemporary dance company based in Berkeley, CA founded by Artistic Director Robert Dekkers in 2009. Dedicated to creating interdisciplinary works that push artistic boundaries and challenge social norms, Dekkers and Resident Choreographer Vanessa Thiessen’s collaborative approach to dance making results in works that are “decidedly daring and always beautifully performed” (SF Arts Monthly). Integrating the company’s classically trained dancers with composers, animators, architects, cinematographers, designers, and sculptors, Post:ballet has been presented at Jacob’s Pillow’s Inside/Out Festival, SF International Arts Festival, Seattle’s Against the Grain Festival, SF Frameline Film Festival, and SF Dance Film Festival.

Now in its 12th Season, Post:ballet has proven its ability to successfully innovate through an ever-changing landscape for arts organizations, using constraints as a catalyst for creativity. Since the pandemic began, Post:ballet has produced several films including: Playing Changes, co-presented with SF Symphony featuring choreography set to seven works for solo violin, including three original commissions; La Folia, presented by the UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive; A Natural History of Vacant Lots, presented by SF Trolley Dances in collaboration with The Living Earth Show; Shaker Loops, presented by Berkeley Symphony; and Waltz of the Snowflakes, a short film of contemporary choreography set to Tchaikovsky’s score and filmed in an abandoned section of the Alameda waterfront, which has been viewed over 300,000 times on YouTube since its November 2020 premiere.

In 2019, Post:ballet became the official company of Berkeley Ballet Theater, where Dekkers serves as Artistic Director. Founded in 1981 with a mission to ensure all interested dancers can pursue rigorous pre-professional ballet training regardless of gender, race, socioeconomic status, or body type, Berkeley Ballet Theater prioritizes teaching ballet in a nurturing, inclusive, and forward-thinking environment. Combined with Post:ballet’s continued commitment to equitable hiring practices and intentional collaboration with diverse and exceptional artists, the company and school are in a unique position to meaningfully ask “what’s next” for ballet, training tomorrow’s dancers and bringing together some of today’s most groundbreaking working artists.

About Samuel Adams (composer)

Samuel Adams is an American composer whose music weaves acoustic and digital sound into “mesmerizing” (New York Times) orchestrations. His recent work explores the expressive possibilities of resonance through digital manipulations of acoustic instruments.

Adams grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area where he studied and performed improvised and electronic music. In 2010, he received a master’s degree in composition from The Yale School of Music and moved to Brooklyn, NY where he taught and performed in various contemporary music ensembles before returning to his native California in 2016.

Sought after by orchestras and contemporary ensemble alike, he has received commissions from a broad range of organizations including San Francisco Symphony, Carnegie Hall, New World Symphony, The Australian Chamber Orchestra, and Spektral Quartet, and has collaborated with conductors such as Esa-Pekka Salonen, Karina Canellakis, MTT, violinists Anthony Marwood, Jennifer Koh, Karen Gomyo, and pianists Emanuel Ax, Sarah Cahill, David Fung, and Joyce Yang.

Adams’s upcoming projects include new works for The Australian Chamber Orchestra, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, Cincinnati Symphony, Alma Quartet, and pianist Conor Hanick.

Adams was Mead Composer in Residence with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra from 2015 to 2018 and in the 2021–22 season will be the Composer in Residence with Het Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, where he will reside for three months. He has held residencies at Civitella Ranieri (Umbria, IT), Djerassi Resident Artists Program (California, USA), Ucross (Wyoming, USA), and Visby International Centre for Composers (Gotland, SE). He is a 2019 Guggenheim Fellow and lives and works in Oakland, CA.

About Vanessa Thiessen (Post:ballet choreographer and co-director)

Vanessa Thiessen is a choreographer, artistic collaborator, and educator. Resident Choreographer for Post:ballet since 2017, her works include La Folia, Hades and Persephone, Junction, Lavender Country (nominated for Best Dance Performance 2019 by SF Classical Voice), and co-choreographed works with Robert Dekkers include Incandescent Body, From Now On (Dance Theater of San Francisco), and Dear Light Along the Path to Nothingness (Grand Rapids Ballet).

From 2013–2015, Thiessen worked alongside ODC/Dance Co-Director KT Nelson, generating choreography for Sacramento Ballet, Owen/Cox Dance, RAWdance, and for Chris Mason Johnson’s dance film From the Beginning. In 2018, she created From the Well of Echoes for Berkeley Ballet Theater in collaboration with the Berkeley Symphony, and in 2019, she created Left for BodyVox JAG in collaboration with the Portland Youth Symphony.

Thiessen teaches at Reed College, BodyVox, Open Space and Berkeley Ballet Theater. She danced professionally with Post:ballet, Skinner/Kirk, Amy Seiwert’s Imagery, Project B., ODC/Dance (where she was nominated for an Isadora Duncan award for her performance in They’ve Lost Their Footing), Smuin Ballet, and Oregon Ballet Theatre.

About Benjamin Tarquin (cinematographer, editor, and co-director)

Benjamin Tarquin is an international videographer, photographer, and editor, at the intersection of the classical arts, documentary, and street dance. Based part of the year in Japan and part of the year in his hometown Oakland, CA, Tarquin uses visual and electronic media to synthesize movement, light, and acoustics into new and evocative artistic expression.

Tarquin grew up to the sounds of the Oakland underground before studying architecture at La Villette in Paris, France. His experience in design led him over the last decade to help build YAK Films into an internationally acclaimed video production company capturing new forms of street dance emerging from the United States, Europe, and Asia. Several viral videos brought this youth-led artistic and political content to the cultural mainstream, giving inner-city youth a powerful and constructive outlet and helping to establish an international street dance scene. In this capacity, Tarquin collaborated with high-profile artists like Lil’ Buck and Les Twins on projects for clients like Sony, Redbull, Adidas, Yonex and Apple. YAK Films has over a million subscribers on YouTube.

His more recent work under Yabe Media expands beyond street dance to produce music videos, short films, and commercials. He has collaborated with Post:ballet since 2019 on projects including Waltz of the Snowflakes, Playing Changes, and Swan Lake, taking a fresh perspective to ballet.

About Robert Dekkers (Post:ballet co-director)

Robert Dekkers is dedicated to inspiring artists and audiences with their passion for movement and collaboration. Named “25 To Watch” by DANCE Magazine and celebrated for their direction of multi-disciplinary works that are “inventive, focused, sophisticated, and anything but risk averse” by SF Chronicle, Dekkers is also Artistic Director of Berkeley Ballet Theater, the official school of Post:ballet.

Dekkers danced professionally with Ballet Arizona, ODC/Dance, Company C Contemporary Ballet, and Diablo Ballet, where they were nominated for an Isadora Duncan Award for “Outstanding Performance–Individual” in 2013. They danced leading roles in works by George Balanchine, Twyla Tharp, José Límon, KT Nelson, Val Caniparoli, Lar Lubovitch, Jodie Gates, Trey McIntyre, Dominic Walsh, Julia Adam, and Paul Taylor. Dekkers’ choreography has been presented at Jacob’s Pillow, SF International Arts Festival, Tanzsommer Festival, Ballet Builders Showcase, Against the Grain Festival, and WestWave Dance Festival. Commissions include SF Dance Film Festival, AXIS Dance Company, Kansas City Ballet, Atlanta Ballet, sjDANCEco, Smuin Ballet, Grand Rapids Ballet (with co-choreographer Vanessa Thiessen), and Diablo Ballet, where they were resident choreographer from 2013–2018. They are currently Director of Choreography for Art Haus, a performance collective that has presented large-scale collaborations in Black Rock City including Dekkers’ Firebird, Rite of Spring, and We, Human.

Dekkers recently co-choreographed a scene for Starz Network’s Blindspotting with Lil Buck and Jon Boogz, performing in the scene together with these artists and the Post:ballet dancers for the series’ season finale. Dekkers has created new works for the dance departments at Stanford Universi¬ty, Southern Methodist University, San Jose State University, and Virginia Commonwealth University, and regularly teaches company classes for AXIS Dance Company, Smuin Ballet, LINES Ballet, and ODC/Dance. They also hold a degree in business from Rio Salado College.

About San Francisco Performances

San Francisco Performances has been a leader in the Bay Area cultural scene since our founding in 1979. With a strong curatorial vision and adventurous programming, we are the city’s premier presenter of intimate concerts and solo performances.

We have introduced hundreds of established and emerging classical music, jazz and dance artists to audiences, including Yo-Yo Ma, the Juilliard String Quartet, Philip Glass, Wendy Whelan, and the Paul Taylor Dance Company. We also champion a new generation, committed to building a contemporary and equitable repertoire. Performers like violinist Jennifer Koh, tenor Lawrence Brownlee and pianist/composer Vijay Iyer are moving their art into the present and future, making it accessible to younger audiences while converting many traditionalists to new possibilities. They represent the path forward.

Quality, intimacy and connection are the hallmarks of San Francisco Performances. We nurture unique relationships with today’s best artists to create an accessible, warm, and engaging arts experience.

Calendar Editors, Please Note:

(Please include our name as the presenter and check to be sure you have our updated website address—many thanks!)

SAN FRANCISCO PERFORMANCES PRESENTS PIVOT FESTIAL 2021
The Living Earth Show with Post:ballet
WHEN: Friday, October 22, 2021, 7:30pm
WHERE: Taube Atrium Theater, 4th Floor, 401 Van Ness Avenue (at McAllister), San Francisco
PROGRAM:: Lyra (World Premiere)
CONCERT TICKETS: $65
CONTACT: (415) 392.2545; sfperformances.org

The Living Earth Show with Post:ballet
WHEN: Sunday, October 24, 2021, 5:00pm
WHERE: Taube Atrium Theater, 4th Floor, 401 Van Ness Avenue (at McAllister), San Francisco
PROGRAM:: Lyra (World Premiere)
CONCERT TICKETS: $65
CONTACT: (415) 392.2545; sfperformances.org

For high-resolution images, contact Nancy Bertossa at nancy@sfperformances.org or go to https://sfperformances.org/media/2122/Lyra-1.html

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