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Five-Minute MFA: How to Make Small Talk About the Ballet's Tour de Force ‘Pas/Parts’

Three conversation starters to get you through intermission.


If you’re well versed in the world of dance, you know that San Francisco Ballet’s premiere of William Forsythe’s Pas/Parts this month is a pretty big deal. But if you’re not, just know that you should buy tickets immediately—and then use these conversation starters in the lobby to keep up with the balletomanes. 

“Thank goodness for Helgi’s patience and persistence! Otherwise, Pas/Parts might have remained in Paris forever.”
The ballet’s artistic director, Helgi Tómasson, saw the Paris Opera Ballet perform Pas/Parts and approached Forsythe about doing the piece in San Francisco. Forsythe demurred, claiming that it needed restructuring before it could be performed again. So Helgi gave him time to reconstruct—nearly 20 years of it.

“It’s so nice to see American contemporary dance alive and well.”
“William’s not a conservative choreographer,”says ballet master Ricardo Bustamante. “There’s a lot of speed, complexity, and movement. It makes the dance space almost visually haunting.”

“Trying to locate Carlo Di Lanno and Sofiane Sylve onstage is like playing a game of Where’s Waldo!”
The show, which employs 15 dancers, is principal-heavy, but Forsythe has also called upon dancers from the lower rungs of the company. “He’s using the very young and the very experienced dancers to create a new dynamic,” says Bustamante. To add more confusion, solos turn into duets—which turn into trios. “At first, it seems like a mess,” Bustamante says, “but Bill is a very visual choreographer, and he shows you where to look.”

Pas/Parts runs from January 24 to February 5 at the San Francisco Ballet. Get tickets here.

Originally published in the January issue of
San Francisco

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