Among Western dance genres, ballet today remains close to its original form, and even in so-called modern ballet, certain movements are expected. But Robert Dekkers, founder and artistic director of San Francisco-based Post:Ballet, is moving the form into the 21st century.
Calling his style of movement more modern than contemporary ballet would suggest, but with strong ties to classical vocabulary that prevent it from being considered modern, he says, “The discussion [of] what’s after modern spawned the label post-modern. My search for what’s after ballet led me to the name Post:Ballet.”
Dekkers’ company opens its fifth season Thursday at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts with a program called “Five High” (to be followed in the fall with “High Five”).
This week’s presentation includes the premiere of “ourevolution,” which explores how human communication has been altered in the face of technological advancements.
Dekkers has chosen to embrace change. He says, “It’s like radio waves, they’ve always existed. But it wasn’t until somebody realized, “Hey, we can use this,’ that it had a wider audience. So I think we can use this. I love the fact that nothing is black or white.”
That willingness to live in the middle ground is a hallmark of his work.
Another hallmark is the way Dekkers collaborates with other artists. For example, his 2011 “Coloring” featured visual artist Enrique Quintero, who created a painting onstage. In “ourevolution,” Dekkers again uses Quintero’s work, but in a different way.
“This is the first time I’ve ever worked with animation,” says Dekkers. “Enrique’s work is very painterly and abstract. The images almost evolve into futuristic hieroglyphs.”
“Five High” also features a reprise of “field the present shifts,” in which dancers take cues from hand movements of American Sign Language amid a constantly shifting lighting design, and the psychologically-based “Mine Is Yours,” which began as a project about sharing but, after research, morphed into a study about selfishness.
“The three women in the piece express the ego, superego and id. The man represents sex and the world,” says Dekkers, who also dances with Diablo Ballet and is a faculty member at the Berkeley Ballet Theater and ODC/Commons.
Going to those very human, paradoxical places, Dekkers seems to have found a sweet spot.
IF YOU GO
Where: Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, 700 Howard St., S.F.
When: 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday
Tickets: $35 to $250
Contact: (415) 978-2787, https://tickets.ybca.org
Note: Post-performance talks are slated for Thursday and Saturday. A party follows Friday’s show.