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“The Royal Ballet sent me two discs of his work,” Macfarlane continues. “One night I couldn’t sleep, and I watched  them at 2 o’clock in the morning. I thought it was absolutely breathtaking work. It made me think I want a part of that.”. When Scarlett was approached by the Royal Ballet to choreograph an evening-length piece — a co-production with another company, because of the financial climate — “I jumped at the chance and said it has to be San Francisco Ballet or no one,” he recalls. “It’s a company large enough to be able to do it, and has an opera house that John loves to design for. Having just worked with them, I knew there were dancers who sparked my interest. Kevin (by then artistic director at the Royal Ballet) picked up the phone and called (San Francisco Ballet’s) Helgi (Tomasson). Helgi said yes.

“I insisted that with every stage of the creative process — in the studio, with music, with designs — both companies were kept up to date all the time, so that it wasn’t a question of doing it in London, and then we box it up and send it ballet shoes animated to San Francisco, The dancers here that I was inspired to create lead roles for would come over to London and work side-by-side with the leads there.”, The Royal Ballet presented the world premiere of “Frankenstein” in May 2016, San Francisco’s North American premiere runs Feb, 17-26 at the War Memorial Opera House..

About why he chose the 1818 Mary Shelley story for the co-production, Scarlett says, “Frankenstein had been … niggling away at me for a while. And when that one thought kept coming back no matter what other stories I went through, and that one kept knocking, I felt I should just go with it.”. The creative process involved close collaboration with Macfarlane. The designer says, “First of all, I need to know how many people are going to be in the piece and then, primarily, the space that (Scarlett) needs on the stage. Does he see it as a very enclosed space or a space that can open up or extend during the piece?  But mostly, Liam wants the dancers to appear from nowhere.

“The other issue is color,” he continues, “Frankenstein was, in my eyes, always a colorless piece, I had this idea that was almost one of those early photographs that people take of arctic exploration, The light bleeds — it’s sepia or that blueish tinge, You don’t see a strong color.”, Scarlett says, “For both of us, the music was a big ballet shoes animated jumping-off point, John said ‘Frankenstein’ was one of the hardest ones, because we didn’t have the score yet when he started designing.” The music Scarlett decided upon is a commissioned score by American composer Lowell Liebermann, whose First Piano Concerto he had used for his ballet “Viscera” (2012)..

Scarlett says, “The first thing we normally do is sit down with the music and listen. Then we listen again, and then we’ll go up to the studio and have a play-around with the model box. We create an atmosphere so that the visual will go with what we’re hearing.”. Though he could have reset the tale in a different era, Scarlett was adamant about preserving the original early 19th-century setting. He says, “I did so much back reading on the book itself and on Shelley and her life. The amount of stigma and popularity the book gained in its time was because it was published in that era. The true fear and horror of the story is the possibility that it could have been real — especially at that time, when scientific discoveries weren’t as forward thinking as they are nowadays. If you move it, you neglect what she was trying to say about the times.

“There is a moral implication, as well,” he continues, “that humans discovering ideas, pushing boundaries were crossing borders that maybe shouldn’t be crossed, That was the real fear in it, as opposed to the revulsion to the physicality of the creature Frankenstein made.”, Macfarlane says, “It’s also still a world of mythology, but at the point where mythology meets medical science, In ‘Frankenstein’ you see the electrical charge activating a hand like this (he jerks his hand), Electricity, what’s this? — ballet shoes animated an amazing magical thing to 90 percent of the people (then), I think also that you’ve got to put it in a world where medical science was absolutely primitive..

“We tried to show that in the anatomy theater. They were digging up bodies to do anatomy work. They had body parts in jars to show people. You could never do ‘Frankenstein’ in a modern mode. I suppose you could, but it would be very difficult, because people believed things then that we don’t believe now.”. If you’re hoping for a Hollywood horror-story treatment, stay home and watch one on Netflix. But if you want to experience a deeper, richer story of love and abandonment, that’s what you’ll get at San Francisco Ballet’s  “Frankenstein.”.

The collaborative effort to establish a Black History Museum in Silicon Valley is continuing to gain steam with the second annual Black Legend Awards, taking place in downtown San Jose on Feb, 25, A new class of 16 award winners will join last year’s 20 honorees as the foundation for the planned museum, which would celebrate the contributions of African-Americans in ballet shoes animated the valley, This year’s class spans every facet of society from public service and law to theater, medicine and journalism..

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