Kunst-Stoff
Aug. 25-28, Yerba Buena Gardens

REMEMBERING HISTORY CAN be useful. Today we think of Les Sylphides as the quintessential ballet blanc: white tutus, a poet, pointe shoes, and a moonlit forest setting. In fact, when Michel Fokine created the ballet, in 1909, it was revolutionary: abstract, small-scale, with few jumps, and inward-looking. Fokine wanted the ballet to be "not a demonstration of physical strength but of pure poetry." One of his inspirations had been a young American, Isadora Duncan. Even during Fokine's lifetime, the ballet was performed in a variety of ways – not always to the choreographer's liking. One of the most famous contemporary interpretations, of course, is by the all-male Ballets Trockaderos de Monte Carlo. So with Less Sylphedes, Kunst-Stoff's Yannis Adoniou, himself a ballet dancer and also committed to rethinking ballet tradition, is following noble footsteps. The piece was first designed for the Yerba Buena Gardens – imagine wood sylphs all over the trees and expansive lawns – but good old desiccated bureaucracies interfered. So now Less Sylphedes will be performed in two versions. One of them (more modest than originally planned) will take place outdoors as part of the Yerba Buena Gardens Festival, the second during Kunst-Stoff's home season at ODC Theater, Sept. 22-Oct. 2. Thurs.-Fri., 12:30 p.m. (Thurs. show is a lecture and demonstration, not a full performance); Sat.-Sun., 9 p.m., Yerba Buena Gardens, Fourth St. at Mission, SF. Free. (415) 543-1718, www.ybgf.org. (Rita Felciano)