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Streaming arts pick: ‘Björk Ballet’

San Francisco Ballet in Pita's "Bjork Ballet."
San Francisco Ballet in Pita’s “Bjork Ballet.”
(Photo by Erik Tomasson, courtesy of San Francisco Ballet.)

With much of the arts moving to online and streaming platforms, here’s a look at a weekly standout:

My pick: San Francisco Ballet streams “Björk Ballet,” a dance piece inspired by the music and style of Icelandic singer/songwriter Björk.

Why: Normally, the only way we’d be able to see an original and innovative ballet like this would be to actually go to San Francisco and see it live.

But one of the upsides of quarantine is that now we can watch truly artistic works like this without having to dress up and leave the house. (Or, buy a plane ticket to San Francisco, get a hotel, eat tons of pizza and Chinese food, find a dress and head to the ballet. Is that just me?)

Ellen Rose Hummel and Elizabeth Powell in Pita's Björk Ballet.
(Photo by Erik Tomasson, courtesy of San Francisco Ballet.)

On Friday, June 12, San Francisco Ballet will stream “Björk Ballet,” a piece it commissioned for its festival of new works. It was created by Arthur Pita, a choreographer known for setting quirky works of literature to dance, including Franz Kafka’s “The Metamorphosis” and Roland Topor’s “The Tenant.”

“Björk Ballet” uses 22 dancers and spotlights songs from Björk’s discography, starting from 1993’s “Debut” to 2017’s “Utopia.” The music inspires striking movements, with pieces set for large and small groups, along with solos and duets.

You can also expect unusually bold choices for costumes and set design. No pink tutus or tiaras here. Instead it’s all about metallic bodysuits, tinsel, fringe, geometric shapes and more. Pita is quoted as saying that he designed the show to resemble “a ballerina music box on acid.”

Dores André in Pita's Björk Ballet.
(Photo by Erik Tomasson, courtesy of San Francisco Ballet.)

Of course, because it’s performed by the San Francisco Ballet, one of America’s premiere companies, all this craziness will be rooted in classical technique.

Find it: Björk Ballet” was recorded in March 2019 as part of the Unbound Festival of New Works. You can watch it for free at 2:30 p.m. Friday, June 12 at sfballet.org. The performance will be followed by an artist interview at 3 p.m. on San Francisco Ballet’s Facebook page.


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