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San Francisco Conservatory of Dance
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San Francisco Conservatory of Dance announces William Forsythe Project

by Emily Hite
January 15, 2007
San Francisco Conservatory of Dance
P.O. Box 1645
Glen Ellen, CA 95442
(415) 309-9419
The San Francisco Conservatory of Dance is one of the nation's youngest premier schools providing dancers with excellent classical training as well as tools with which to nurture their artistic voice and effectively express their point of view. It is noteworthy for dancers and dance audiences alike to anticipate the working together of world-renowned choreographer William Forsythe and the members of SFCD in a methods and repertory workshop intensive.

Founded by esteemed teacher and celebrated dancer Summer Rhatigan, the Conservatory fosters a collaborative dynamic on many levels, among dancers and teachers as well as with choreographers and musicians, involving every member as an artistic constituent in the creative process of making dances. Rhatigan's wealth of experience, from her training at England's Royal Ballet School to more than twenty years of professional engagement with principal classical and contemporary ballet companies, informs her values as a teacher and a director: exposing dancers to the work of today's most innovative choreographers is key to her school's success in developing dancers to their fullest individual potential.

A typical week for the advanced class at the Conservatory consists of 23 hours in the studio, including ballet and modern technique, pointe, variations, improvisation, composition, choreography and the creation of new work. Additionally, the SFCD Performance Company presents new and reconstructed works on professional stages and in intimate settings. In July 2006, the company debuted in San Francisco's annual West Wave Dance Festival with Alex Ketley's Careless, on a bill with some of the Bay Area's best-known professional companies such as AXIS Dance Company and Janice Garrett and Dancers. Part of the Conservatory's artistic team, Mr. Ketley is an award-winning choreographer and Artistic Director/Co-Founder of The Foundry (www.foundryprojects.org/index.html).

The S.F. Conservatory's annual summer program offers an even more intensive workload and involves additional students admitted by audition. Past summer workshop students have had the good fortune of working with famed choreographer Jiri Kylian's long-time collaborator, Glenn Edgerton, formerly the Artistic Director of Netherlands Dance Theater. Mr. Edgerton returns in 2007 for his third consecutive summer working with the Conservatory. It is a rare and high honor for professional dancers to have such opportunities to learn the repertory of the world's leading choreographers. For young pre-professionals, it is exceptional.

The Conservatory's forthcoming William Forsythe project is monumental for a training school. American-born and –raised Forsythe has sustained his reputation as one of the world's foremost choreographers alongside Kylian. Forsythe has spent the majority of his career thus far in Germany, while his work has been performed and acclaimed internationally. First a dancer and Resident Choreographer with Stuttgart Ballet, then director of Frankfurt Ballet from 1984-2004, Forsythe has gone on to form his own ensemble, The Forsythe Company, based in Dresden and Frankfurt am Main. The choreographer's work is known for an original aesthetic, which pushes the possibilities of ballet technique and is now shaping ballet for the 21st Century through its social and political content.

Former Frankfurt Ballet star Thomas McManus will act as ambassador for the S.F. Conservatory's Forsythe Project, which will be the focus of the SFCD's first summer session of 2007, June 4-July 14. The Conservatory announced, "During the first two weeks of the Forsythe Program, a maximum of 25 advanced dancers, ages 17-23, will be immersed in a workshop on Forsythe's improvisation techniques, and during the ensuing weeks they will—among many other things—learn a Forsythe ballet which they will perform during the student showcases at the conclusion of the program."

The William Forsythe Project, underwritten by a generous grant from the Phyllis C. Wattis Foundation, is the latest in an ongoing series of outstanding offerings from the SFCD. If you are a dancer interested in extending your range of artistic expression, looking to discover new possibilities in your dancing, or wanting to work with teachers and choreographers who will feed your open mind, see what's going on at the Conservatory by visiting their website, where dates for the 2007 Summer Session auditions are posted. If you are a dance-lover in the Bay Area, see videos of the Conservatory's past work online and check for upcoming performance dates. On Wednesday, January 17, the SFCD Performance Company will perform "Careless" at the opening of this year's American College Dance Festival at San Francisco State University. If you are awaiting your first experience witnessing the SFCD in practice, prepared to be blown away.
Chloe Felesina in an excerpt of Jiri Kylian's Whereabouts Unknown in the San Francisco Conservatory of Dance's Summer Student Showcase 2005

Chloe Felesina in an excerpt of Jiri Kylian's Whereabouts Unknown in the San Francisco Conservatory of Dance's Summer Student Showcase 2005

Photo © & courtesy of Andrea Flores

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