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Imagining 'Glass Pieces'

Imagery that conjures up the feel and spirit of Jerome Robbins' 'Glass Pieces' (at SF Ballet Mar 21-Apr 1 2012), which pairs frenetic ensemble dance with music by the minimalist composer Philip Glass.

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San Francisco Ballet pictured in 'Glass Pieces', choreographed by Jerome Robbins in 1983 for New York City Ballet and first performed by San Francisco Ballet in 1998. (© Erik Tomasson)

An example of minimalist fashion (as shot by Andy Heart), a trend that particularly flourished in the 1990s.

New York’s Grand Central Station at rush hour—a scene that has been likened to the seemingly-never-ending stream of ‘pedestrians’ moving horizontally in 'Glass Pieces', who remain oblivious to the dancers in their midst.

A text art work by Anton Mwewa. 'Glass Pieces' is held as an iconic imagining of urban America in the 1980s, the implied isolation reinforced by the grid-patterned backdrop that brings to mind city blocks.

Rush hour in the city, evoking 'Glass Pieces''s themes of urban urgency and isolation.

'The Orange Harvest' by Alberto Pla Y Rubio (1867 - 1937). 'Glass Pieces'’s third movement is dominated by folk motifs which choreographer Robbins characterized as resembling the harvest. “He would say things like, ‘Gather the apples and oranges.’ The women should look like they’re gathering and harvesting, ”says SFB Ballet Master Betsy Erickson.

The grid-patterned backdrop used in 'Glass Pieces' evokes the look of graph paper, as well as city blocks.

The minimalist architecture of John Pawson: Novy Dvur Monastery (Czech Republic 2004)

'Composition in Red, Blue, and Yellow' by Piet Mondrian (1872-1944), whose art prefigured Minimalism as we know it today. (MoMA, The Sidney and Harriet Janis Collection)

San Francisco Ballet pictured in Jerome Robbins' 'Glass Pieces' (© Erik Tomasson), scored by Philip Glass.