Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley’s novel Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus is nearly 200 years old, but it feels as fresh as ever; a cautionary tale on the ethics of bioengineering and a heartbreaking story of a creature searching for its identity.
Choreographer and Royal Ballet artist-in-residence Liam Scarlett has made a fresh adaptation of the story in a co-commission for the Royal Ballet and the San Francisco Ballet. It opened last year in London, and now Scarlett is overseeing the U.S. premiere here at the War Memorial Opera House in San Francisco.
I talked to Scarlett during a break from rehearsals, asking how he gets this awkward creature, assembled from ill-fitting body parts, to dance. "I told all the (Frankenstein) dancers to imagine themselves as a newborn baby in an adult’s body," Scarlett said. "I think one of the perfect examples is to watch a baby deer, where they haven’t got control of their limbs and yet everything is there. We had to teach him how to walk, before he could run, before he could dance."