San Francisco Ballet innaugurates a new festival–Les ?t?s de la danse de Paris–next week with world premieres by Paul Taylor, Lar Lubovitch, and Christopher Wheeldon. The Chronicle will be carrying extensive coverage from the scene. In the meantime, they asked me to chat with Christopher Wheeldon as he worked on his new ballet, “Quarternary”:
” “Sorry, I’m going to be munching my apple,” Christopher Wheeldon says as he bursts into San Francisco Ballet’s second-floor studio on a gloomy June afternoon. The British accent lends instant authority, but it’s his body language that speaks volumes: purposeful stride, firm handshake.
“An apple a day keeps the block away,” he sings with a teasing smile. And just like that, he’s back at work, watching principal dancer Gonzalo Garcia hoist Katita Waldo into the air, exclaiming “Whee!” as Garcia spins her and sets her on the floor with a frustrated expression.
“That was late, but right,” Wheeldon says, sharp eyes squinting and finger raised to lip. At 32, he could still pass for a dancer himself, with his lean frame and stylish goatee. He walks to the center to demonstrate the next section: a series of quick syncopated steps that grow larger and faster until he is leaping full-out. A sound like ripping Velcro punctures the quiet concentration of the room.
“Delightful,” Wheeldon says. “A split in the pants.”
Wheeldon has split a lot of pants lately. And if his rehearsal antics aren’t quite as outre as those of Mark Morris, no one in the dance world would be surprised to learn that Wheeldon’s demeanor is tilting in that direction. Just as Morris emerged in the ’80s as the savior of modern dance, Wheeldon has, since 2000, been tagged as the great hope of classical ballet. And he’s busy. ”
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