Monday, May 11, 2015

The Triumph of Grace and Beauty

This week I’m celebrating San Francisco Ballet with Memories of a Superb 2015 Season. And Looking Forward to the 2016 season, just announced.

Come with me or an illustrated preview, including announcements of bold new works, and revivals of classical ballets of the past. It’s tutu fabulous.

Sarah Van Patten in Cranko's Onegin
Yuan Yuan Tan in Tomasson's Swan Lake

With the Sunday May 10 performance of ‘Romeo & Juliet’, San Francisco Ballet’s triumphant 2015 season drew to an ecstatic and applause-filled close.

The eight programs of the 2015 season ranged from the dramatic and highly original ‘Raku’ , to the haunting ‘Giselle’, the witty and colorful ‘Don Quixote’ and an emotionally-charged ‘Shostakovich Trilogy’.

San Francisco Ballet is one of the leading ballet companies in the world— recent recognition in Paris proved it. And the scope and grace and elegance of recent new productions offered further illustration of its quality and high standards.

Yes, there’s a certain hometown pride in my admiration. Since I was a young ballet student in New Zealand, and attending international ballet performances with my parents, I’ve been an avid follower of ballet. I’ve devoted seasons to ballet immersion in London and Paris. (Binge-watching before there was binge-watching.)

Gennadi Nedvigin in Balanchine's Coppélia

High praise must go to artistic director and principal choreographer Helgi Tomasson, now dancing into his 31st season, as well as the company’s exceptionally talented ballet masters, instructors and choreographers and the musical director and conductor, Martin West.

San Francisco Ballet principal dancers, character principals, corps de ballet and apprentices make up a powerful and emotionally engaging ensemble.

Dancers this year were technically exquisite. There was a perfection that made my eyes water, my breath pause.

On stage this year there was precision in the corps dancing--and as individuals personal style and individual feeling shone through. But there was also the frisson of spontaneous expression. I loved their refined and graceful communication to the audience.

I applaud them all—and cannot wait for next January when the golden silk damask curtains of the San Francisco War Memorial Opera House rise and the next season opens.

Come with me for a detailed preview of the coming repertory season—which includes ballets like ‘Swimmer’ introduced this year, and classics like ‘Onegin’ that I’m impatient to see once more.

Yuan Yuan Tan in Possokhov's Magrittomania

Yuan Yuan Tan in Possokhov's Magrittomania

2016 Season

Season highlights of San Francisco Ballet’s next repertoire include the North American premiere of Forsythe’s ‘Pas/Parts’ and new works by Peck and Scarlett plus works by Balanchine, Cranko, Morris, Possokhov, Ratmansky, Robbins, Tomasson and Wheeldon

The 2016 Season will begin with Nutcracker, which runs December 16-31 for a total of 29 performances. Following the Opening Night Gala on Thursday, January 21, 2016, the season will consist of eight programs, from January 24 to May 8.

“This season is particularly exciting because of the incredible diversity of choreographers represented,” said SF Ballet artistic director and principal choreographer Helgi Tomasson. “In addition to legendary choreographers such as George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins, I’ve programmed works by some of the most exciting contemporary choreographers working today, including Mark Morris, Alexei Ratmansky, and Christopher Wheeldon—we’re lucky to have such a long and rich history with each of them.”

The new season will include a world premiere by New York City Ballet Resident Choreographer Justin Peck, who will create his first work for the Company, as well as a world premiere by Liam Scarlett.

San Francisco audiences will see the North American premiere of William Forsythe’s Pas/Parts; SF Ballet is the first American company to perform the work.

Dores André and Joan Boada in Tomasson's 7 for Eight 
Vanessa Zahorian and Gennadi Nedvigin in Tomasson's 7 for Eight

Program 1 opens Sunday, January 24 and includes Helgi Tomasson’s 7 for Eight, Choreographer in Residence Yuri Possokhov’s Magrittomania, and the North American premiere of William Forsythe’s Pas/Parts. Tomasson’s 7 for Eight, set to four keyboard concertos by Johann Sebastian Bach, was premiered by the Company in 2004. 

San Francisco Ballet in Wheeldon's Continuum©

San Francisco Ballet in Balanchine's Rubies

San Francisco Ballet in Balanchine's Rubies

Program 2 opens on Wednesday, January 27 with Christopher Wheeldon’s Continuum, a world premiere by Liam Scarlett, and Balanchine’s Rubies. Christopher Wheeldon’s Continuum, set to the music of György Ligeti, premiered during the 2002 Season and was last performed in full on the 2006 Season. 

San Francisco Ballet in Tomasson's Swan Lake
San Francisco Ballet in Tomasson's Swan Lake

Maria Kochetkova and Davit Karapetyan in Tomasson's Swan Lake

Vanessa Zahorian in Tomasson's Swan Lake

Program 3 opens on Friday, February 19 with Helgi Tomasson’s full-length Swan Lake. Tomasson choreographed his first production of Swan Lake for SF Ballet in 1988 and in 2009, he created a new version, featuring scenery and costume design by Jonathan Fensom; lighting design by Jennifer Tipton; projection and video design by Sven Ortel; and hair, wig, and makeup design by Michael Ward. 

Vanessa Zahorian in Balanchine's Coppélia

Vanessa Zahorian in Balanchine's Coppélia

Program 4 opens on Tuesday, March 8 with George Balanchine’s Coppélia. The popular comedic ballet, set to a score by Léo Delibes, was first performed by the Paris Opéra Ballet in 1870.

Maria Kochetkova, Vanessa Zahorian, and Dores André in Robbins' Dances at a Gathering

Maria Kochetkova and Joseph Walsh in Robbins' Dances at a Gathering

San Francisco Ballet in Possokhov’s Swimmer

Taras Domitro in Possokhov’s Swimmer

Maria Kochetkova and Tiit Helimets in Possokhov’s Swimmer

Program 5 opens on Wednesday, March 16 with Jerome Robbins’ Dances at a Gathering and Yuri Possokhov’s Swimmer. Dances at a Gathering, set to music by Frédéric Chopin, is widely considered a masterpiece. Created in 1969 for New York City Ballet, the hour-long work, set to 18 piano pieces, features ten dancers. 

Vanessa Zahorian and Hansuke Yamamoto in Tomasson's Prism

San Francisco Ballet in Tomasson's Prism

Taras Domitro in Tomasson's Prism

San Francisco Ballet in Wheeldon's Rush©

Frances Chung and Gennadi Nedvigin in Wheeldon's Rush©

Frances Chung and Clara Blanco in Wheeldon's Rush©

Stella Abrera and Christine Shevchenko in Ratmansky's Seven Sonatas.
© Rosalie O'Connor. Courtesy American Ballet Theatre

Xiomara Reyes and Herman Cornejo in Ratmansky's Seven Sonatas.
© Rosalie O'Connor. Courtesy American Ballet Theatre

Program 6 opens Tuesday, April 5 with Helgi Tomasson’s Prism, the SF Ballet premiere of Alexei Ratmansky’s Seven Sonatas, and Christopher Wheeldon’s Rush. Tomasson’s Prism, set to the music of Ludwig van Beethoven, features costume design by Martin Pakledinaz and lighting design by Mark Stanley. 

San Francisco Ballet in Morris' Drink To Me With Only Thine Eyes

San Francisco Ballet in Morris' Drink To Me With Only Thine Eyes

Vanessa Zahorian and Davit Karapetyan in Balanchine's Theme and Variations

Lorena Feijoo and Vitor Luiz in Balanchine's Theme and Variations

Hansuke Yamamoto and Vitor Luiz in Balanchine's Theme and Variations

Program 7 opens Thursday, April 7 with Mark Morris’ Drink to Me Only With Thine Eyes, a world premiere by Justin Peck, and George Balanchine’s Theme and Variations. Morris’ Drink to Me… was premiered in 1988 by American Ballet Theatre. The work for 12 dancers is set to music by Virgil Thomson, with costume design by Santo Loquasto and lighting design by Michael Chybowski.

Luke Ingham in Cranko's Onegin

San Francisco Ballet in Cranko's Onegin

Program 8 opens Saturday, April 30 and features the return of John Cranko’s Onegin. Last performed by SF Ballet in 2013, this romantic full-length production is based on Alexander Pushkin’s novel in verse Eugene Onegin, set to a score by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky and orchestrated by Kurt-Heinz Stolze. The ballet features scenic and costume design by award-winning designer Santo Loquasto, with lighting design by James F. Ingalls, and was first performed by Stuttgart Ballet in 1965.

Yuan Yuan Tan and Vitor Luiz in Cranko's Onegin

During the 2016 Repertory Season, the Company will perform a total of 62 performances. Friday and Saturday evening performances are at 8pm. New this season: Tuesday and Thursday evening performances, in addition to Wednesday evening performances, will now be at 7:30pm; Saturday and Sunday matinees are at 2pm. The SF Ballet Orchestra will accompany all programs.

“Meet the Artist” Interviews and “Pointes of View” Lecture Series

SF Ballet will continue to present the entertaining and informative “Meet the Artist” series at Friday evening and Sunday Matinee performances. The 30-minute interviews with Company artists, management, and guests of SF Ballet begin one hour prior to performance; all ticket holders are invited to attend free of charge. In addition, SF Ballet will present “Pointes of View” lectures on Wednesdays during the season, which are free and open to the public. For more information, visit

Subscription Tickets
Subscription tickets to SF Ballet’s 2016 Repertory Season go on sale on July 7, 2015. Ticket Services, 415.865.200o or Phone hours are Monday through Friday, 10am to 4pm.

Single Tickets
Individual tickets for SF Ballet’s 2016 Repertory Season will be available for advance sale online at beginning November 18, 2015 and 415.865.2000, beginning January 4, 2016.

About San Francisco Ballet

As America’s oldest professional ballet company, San Francisco Ballet has enjoyed a long and rich tradition of artistic “firsts” since its founding in 1933, including performing the first American productions of Swan Lake and Nutcracker, as well as the first 20th-century American Coppélia.

San Francisco Ballet is one of the three largest ballet companies in the United States. Guided in its early years by American dance pioneers and brothers Lew, William and Harold Christensen, San Francisco Ballet currently presents more than 100 performances annually, both locally and internationally. Under the direction of Helgi Tomasson, the Company has achieved an international reputation as one of the preeminent ballet companies in the world.

In July 2014, the Company toured to Paris as part of Les Etés de la Danse Festival, marking the 10th anniversary of its inaugural engagement with the festival. At Théâtre du Châtelet, SF Ballet presented over 20 works by 15 choreographers over a gala evening and 17 performances. 2016 marks the 31st anniversary of Helgi Tomasson’s tenure as artistic director of San Francisco Ballet.

For more information and for tickets:

All copyright images, by various photographers, courtesy San Francisco Ballet. Used here with with express permission.


Beauty Follower said...

Wonderful photos... great dancers and costumes!

Karena Albert said...

Dear Diane, Thank you for sharing all of this exquisite beauty from the ballet! The season ahead sounds splendorous!!

The Arts by Karena