FURY has launched and tickets are on sale. It's exciting and ambitious, and I'm diving into the producer role for the first time. It's a concert experience, and I think our Blurb describes it best, so I will copy that below.
I'd like to share the process in a series of blogs with you as we go along. Since this is my first post about FURY, I'll start back at the beginning.
I was introduced to James Jackson and Lilie Hoy of YASSOU about a year ago by a friend who knew they had composed and played music for a stage production for Louisville Ballet, sharing the stage with the dancers. I liked their music online a lot, so we met at The Battery in SF, and I was impressed with the way they were approaching their music and their collaborations. I also just liked them both - a recurring theme as this team came together. I asked them for a second meeting and told them I was thinking about doing a concert with very high level dancers, and basing the whole thing on a modern story. I also said I wanted to do it on a "manageable scale". They were in because it's the kind of collaborative creation they are all about. At that point, I was totally in myself. No more "If..." Now it was only "How, who, when, where and what."
Next I asked Dani Rowe to be the choreographer. Her choreography is getting great reviews, and the recurring theme of "I like her" was already there with Dani. After my explanation, she was in too.
Next, James, Lilie, Dani and I met at Cavallo Point for coffee to choose the story. I wanted a story that would immediately say, "Strap in, this isn't your typical concert or ballet", and movies have the story elements and recognition I was looking for. I had a list of about 25 different movies I was interested in working with. The four of us worked our way through the list, discussing each, throwing some out, keeping some on a short list. When I got to Mad Max, James, Liiie and Dani all lit up like light bulbs. Their immediate reactions made it clear - we're doing Mad Max.
A side note about why the pop of pleasure when that movie came up - here's what I think. Aside from the adrenaline fueled, fantastical adventure of the post-apocalyptic pile-up in the desert, at it's core, the story is actually about hope. It's about the most ferocious of battles any real hero faces - taking a risk to trust someone other than him or herself. We are also digging the feminist equality and strength of Furiosa. As one reviewer said, "blending grit and gravity to become the story's heart and soul."
Back to our own journey. Next, I called a number of lawyers and producers to make sure I wasn't going to be in any legal trouble. Basically, interpreting a movie through a music concert with dance is about as derivative as it gets, and I got the all clear as long as we're not using actual dialogue or video from the movies, which wasn't our aim anyway.
Next, I told Dani who my dream team was for dancers, and we figured out what roles they could have. We approached them to "guest" (ballet term for side gig), and they were all in too. It's an amazing cast, and will be fantastic to finally have SFB and LINES dancers in a rehearsal studio together!
Meanwhile, I was nailing down the date and lining up our first venue, The Chapel - a really cool music club in the Mission District of SF. As I said above, I was trying to keep things to a manageable scale, so I was only planning for one night.
James, Lilie, Dani and I met a few more times to shape the flow of the concert - timing, mood, narrative arc, visuals, etc. Lots of thinking went into this and continues now. Dani also suggested I contact her friend and fellow Aussie, Luke Acret to see if he would come on as Creative Director to take the visual design for imagery, sets, and projections to a next level. As you know, the Mad Max movies are also Australian, so the Aussie DNA is thick on this project now.
We were off and running then, making music, visuals and all the rest. I'll pick up from there in another post soon, but for now, here's the Blurb:
FURY is a new concert experience that is up-close and real, bringing together the collaborative music making of indie-pop group, YASSOU with another unusual collaboration between dancers from two different world-class ballet companies, San Francisco Ballet and Alonzo King LINES Ballet. Principal dancers from SFBallet, Dores Andre, Frances Chung, Luke Ingham, Lauren Strongin and Joe Walsh, and from LINES Ballet, Adji Cissoko and Babatunji will share a center stage with musicians from YASSOU who are composing an hour of original music and sound. Audience will surround the stage in an ever changing, post-apocalyptic world created with sets and visuals by Creative Director, Luke Acret. Choreographer Dani Rowe is making movement for dancers and musicians who portray characters fighting for survival in a journey that moves between driving intensity and tender intimacy.
FURY Show Facebook Page link: