Has Tamara Rojo Pulled Off A Miracle At San Francisco Ballet?

The encore of San Francisco Ballet’s AI-inspired Mere Mortals, a seven-performance run that ends Wednesday, represents the largest and most unexpected bouquet in artistic director Tamara Rojo’s inaugural season. 

For audiences, the surprises began with the show’s printed program. The booklet came sealed with the words “DO NOT OPEN”: part provocation, part dare. The cover was decorated with only an abstract swirl of silky fog. 

Yet the real incitement came when the performance began—not with lilting strings and a curtain raise, but with the low thrum of a single electronic note by British musician Floating Points and a sheer black screen. For the next 66 minutes, the crowd was gripped by a modern retelling of the Pandora myth, the company’s first full-length ballet choreographed by a woman, Canadian American Aszure Barton. Nearly 50 dancers writhed and wiggled on a stage designed with the help of artificial intelligence by Barcelona-based Hamill Industries, all of the performers clad in black reflective bodysuits. 

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