I took a sneak peek at Ballet San Jose Silicon Valley’s latest premiere for the Chronicle today. It’s a three-act collaboration between artistic director Dennis Nahat and Chinese choreographer Yong Yao:

“Nahat was undaunted a year ago when his friend Ann Woo came to him with an ambitious scenario. Woo, the executive director of San Jose’s Chinese Performing Artists of America, had been paging through the writings of 17th century British philosopher Francis Bacon. Bacon hailed printing, gunpowder and the compass as the West’s three most important technologies — without realizing that the Chinese actually invented each. Woo was on a mission to set the record straight — through dance.

“Now the question was, how do you make dancing out of these ideas?,” Nahat said during a break from recent rehearsals at Ballet San Jose’s downtown studios. Tall, imposing and freshly showered, he wore a long terrycloth robe, like a boxer just exiting the ring. Woo slid a coconut milk health drink across the table. “You see, she takes care of me,” Nahat said. On the other side of the table Yong Yao, CPAA’s choreographer and Woo’s right-hand man, laughed knowingly.

“How do you dance gunpowder?,” Nahat continued, winking at Yao. “Well, we don’t dance gunpowder. We dance the explosion. We dance the fire.” “

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