Sushi Rolls at the Ballet

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Who knew sushi rolls could inspire the choreography of a ballet? Or that slightly off-kilter YouTube videos could provide inspiration for the soundtrack? Nearly 50 America SCORES students and families attended a Smuin Ballet matinee at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts and discovered just that. Just as the inspiration for a poem can come from almost anywhere, so can the inspiration for a contemporary ballet.

America SCORES Middle School Program Director Roberto Gil spearheaded the visit to the ballet, securing free tickets and prime seats.  “I wanted the kids to see that events like these are within their reach,” Roberto explained, adding that exposure to cultural events like plays, the symphony, museums, murals, and ballet can help kids expand their knowledge and appreciation for a wide variety of the arts. “In our community, we have future artists, doctors, painters, dancers, and musicians. Seeing performances like these can plant a seed and help kids envision what they might want to do in the future." 

“If I Were a Sushi Roll” is one of three contemporary ballets performed at YBCA this Spring. Choreographed by Val Caniparoli, the ballet is set to the pop album “Confessions”, a collaboration between composer Nico Muhly, singer/songwriter Teitur Lassen, and musicians from Holland Baroque. Fantastical to the hilt, the title dance in Caniparoli’s nine-vignette ballet depicts a dancer imagining himself as a sushi roll. Not exactly the Nutcracker. But goofy fun!

Roberto capped off the ballet with a tasty meal for the America SCORES students and families. “I remember when I was in high school,” Roberto said, “and the best thing ever was when my soccer coach from the Boys and Girls club took us out for breakfast as a team. I felt so important in that moment, and I still remember the details of that morning. I want the same for this group of kids. I want them to feel just as important and valued.”

Jenny Griffin