Even dance lovers who live far from their favorite companies can get a taste of new ballets these days: Young choreographers like Justin Peck are creating not just premieres, but short films to go along with them, like creative versions of a trailer.

The latest one is for Peck's new piece at San Francisco Ballet, In the Countenance of Kings. The film, by Ezra Hurwitz (who previously collaborated with Peck on a Heatscape trailer for Miami City Ballet), was shot in an abandoned train station in Oakland, just across the bay from San Francisco.

The film's music, by Sufjan Stevens, and movement, by Peck, are pulled directly from the ballet. It's the first time SFB has ever produced this kind of content. Hurwitz says the company administration was only convinced to shoot it in the middle of a busy performance season because the project was spearheaded by principals Frances Chung and Dores André.

"Like most of Justin’s work, In the Countenance of Kings creates an alternate world—one that’s sentimental, youthful, surreal and yet very human," says Hurwitz. "I wanted to capture that sort of transcendent experience in a short, semi-narrative film." That "semi-narrative" is a dancer's (Dores André's) post-rehearsal daydream that's inspired by the work she's just rehearsed.

The result is a thrilling creation in itself. Personally, I'm loving this trend, and the fact that it's mostly young artists who are behind it. I wouldn't be surprised if it gets more young audiences in the house as well.

SFB premieres In The Countenance of Kings April 7–17.

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