SF Ballet raises $5 million for pandemic relief fund, releases quarantine short film

San Francisco Ballet, SF Ballet, Ellen Rose Hummel, Daniel Deivison-Oliveira, Dance of Dreams

Ellen Rose Hummel and Daniel Deivison-Oliveira in Millepied’s Dance of Dreams. Courtesy: San Francisco Ballet.

Not many Bay Area arts organizations can say they’ve been able to keep employees paid during the pandemic, but the San Francisco Ballet recently announced that it was closing its employee relief fund after raising more than $5 million since march, with the goal of the funds being to keep not only dancers but technical and administrative staff paid and with health benefits through the end of the year.

Through crowdfunding, the company offered one-on-one virtual interaction with dancers, downloadable music and even custom jewelry. Contributions allowed the dancers to continue their training and provided education to students at its dance school.

On Aug. 13 the SF Ballet also released a six-minute dance film featuring a handful of dancers in iconic San Francisco and Marin locations. “Dance of Dreams” was directed by Benjamin Millepied and includes choreography by Justin Peck, Dwight Rhoden, Janie Taylor and Christopher Wheeldon.

The film highlights the beauty of the Golden Gate Bridge, Palace of Fine Arts and the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. It’s scored by “Scène D’Amour” by Bernard Hermann from Alfred Hitchcock’s “Vertigo.” The music was performed by the SF Ballet Orchestra.

“Dance of Dreams is a moment of dancing, a moment of reconnecting dancers to the city and the thing they love most,” Millepied said in a news release.

The dancers include Joseph Walsh and Frances Chung, Ellen Rose Hummel and Daniel Deivison-Oliveira, and Madison Keesler and Benjamin Freemantle. The score, mixed by SF Ballet Orchestra Music Director Martin West, ned more than 150 tracks recorded remotely by more than 60 musicians. Other than being a beautiful work of art, the film is a test of sorts to test the company’s digital engagement with its audience. While SF Ballet’s 2021 season has been announced, cancelations or postponements are still possible.

While making the film, physical distancing rules were observed, and the pas de deux (duets) were performed by dancers who have been sheltered in place together.

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