Meet the Artist Interviews (MTAs) spotlight the specific San Francisco Ballet repertory program to be performed that afternoon/evening. These informative talks feature Company dancers, guest artists, choreographers, and conductors in conversation with a moderator.
The information, views and opinions expressed in podcasts are strictly those of the participants and do not represent directly or imply any official position of San Francisco Ballet Association.
See the pre-performance Meet the Artist Interview schedule for upcoming discussion dates.
Cheryl A. Ossola, SF Ballet writer and Dance Studio Life magazine editor in chief, interviews Artistic Director & Principal Choreographer Helgi Tomasson.
Helgi Tomasson created his production of Giselle in 1999, basing on the historic Petipa production. He discusses his personal history with the ballet, from the four productions in which he danced the role of Albrecht to his own approach, influenced by his work with Anton Dolin. Also touched on: his work as a choreographer and role as artistic director.Running time: 31 minutes
Claire Sheridan, Founder of the LEAP Program at Saint Mary's College, interviews San Francisco Ballet soloist Jennifer Stahl.
Soloist Jennifer Stahl discusses the magic of the ballet Giselle. She talks about the art of dancing in the corps as a wili, and offers her thoughts about performing the role of Myrtha. Jennifer also gives us some behind-the-scenes information about how ballerinas customize their pointe shoes.Running time: 25 minutes
Director of Education Charles McNeal interviews Principal Dancer Frances Chung.
Ms. Cheng talks about growing up and training in Canada before coming to San Francisco. She also discusses the motivations of the character of Myrtha in Swan Lake, while listeners also get an overview of significant ballets of the Romantic Period.Running time: 29 minutes
Cheryl A. Ossola, SF Ballet writer and Dance Studio Life magazine editor in chief, interviews Soloist Sasha De Sola.
Soloist Sasha De Sola talks about her love for the classics, the fine points of dancing Giselle’s Romantic style of classicism, and her surprise promotion to soloist in 2012 while on tour in London, the challenges of touring, her development as an artist, and her definition of “working smart,” her advice to young dancers.Running time: 30 minutes
Mary Wood interviews Lloyd Riggins, principal dancer and ballet master with the Hamburg Ballet.
Lloyd Riggins, principal dancer and ballet master with the Hamburg Ballet, related the journey of his career from its beginnings in Florida, USA, to Europe and eventually to the Hamburg Ballet, and he observed some differences in training and style between American and European companies. He explained choreographer John Neumeier’s thematic approach to telling the Midsummer Night’s Dream story, and how he used the classical Mendelssohn score to accompany the human characters, while using a contemporary score by Gyorgy Ligety to present the fairyland characters and a street organ for the “rustics”.Running time: 28 minutes
Cheryl A. Ossola, SF Ballet writer and Dance Studio Life magazine editor in chief, interviews Principal Dancer Yuan Yuan Tan.
At The Hamburg Ballet’s request during its run of John Neuemeier’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Principal Dancer Yuan Yuan Tan talks about her experiences working with artistic director Neumeier. Tan, who danced the title role in the U.S. premiere of Neumeier’s The Little Mermaid, discusses her first exposure to Neumeier’s work as a young student; the process of learning, rehearsing, and performing The Little Mermaid; how the role changed her as an artist, and how it prepared her to perform other ballets by this highly theatrical choreographer.Running time: 30 minutes
Mary Wood interviews Principal Dancer Rubén Martín Cintas.
Principal dancer Rubén Martín Cintas entertained the audience in a wide-ranging conversation that included discussion of his long career as a dancer, his emerging career as a teacher, and his work with the company’s varied choreographers. He offered insights into the ballet Tears, created by Val Caniparoli, which received its world premiere that evening. He mentioned the excellent training in his own experience that has prepared him to teach his craft.Running time: 29 minutes
Mary Wood interviews Ballet Master Katita Waldo.
Ballet Master Katita Waldo described the preparation of The Kingdom of the Shades from La Bayadère, Act II, and in particular, her work with the corps de ballet. She discussed the impact on both principals and corps of working with legendary ballerina, Natalia Makarova. She gave an animated description of being a member of the corps, from the exacting discipline required to the extraordinary sense of esprit that emerged through the process. She emphasized the challenges of working in the historic, classical idiom.Running time: 31 minutes
Cheryl A. Ossola, SF Ballet writer and Dance Studio Life magazine editor in chief, interviews Principal Dancer Pascal Molat.
During the run of Programs 2 and 3, Pascal Molat discusses dancing in Alexei Ratmansky’s From Foreign Lands, Wayne McGregor’s Borderlands, and Yuri Possohkov’s Firebird. Molat, who created roles in all three ballets, talks about the creative processes of these three very different choreographers, and his own approach to learning and refining a role—plus how he handles that big, slippery-looking egg in Firebird with Kaschei’s inches-long fingernails.Running time: 29 minutes
Cheryl A. Ossola, SF Ballet writer and Dance Studio Life magazine editor in chief, interviews Principal Dancer Lorena Feijoo.
Lorena Feijoo discusses her experiences in creating a principal role in Val Caniparoli’s world premiere Tears, including a collaborative rehearsal process that included improvisation and the challenges of working with Steve Reich’s minimalist music. Also discussed: the value of long-term working relationships between dancers and choreographers and Feijoo’s transition back to performing after the birth of her daughter.Running time: 31 minutes
Music Director and Principal Conductor Martin West introduces "Meet the Music and Musicians" - an exploration of Stravinsky's Firebird with the San Francisco Ballet Orchestra.Running time: 30 minutes
Mary Wood interviews Sarah Van Patten.
Principal dancer Sarah Van Patten spoke about learning the lead role of Cinderella when choreographer Christopher Wheeldon created the work in 2012-13. Her long-time relationship with Wheeldon, appearing in virtually all of his works in the SF Ballet repertoire, added a special ease and depth to the process, and she elaborated on the style of movement to be expected from him. She compared dancing Cinderella to other principal roles she has interpreted, including her favorite, Juliet.Running time: 30 minutes
Artistic Administrator Caroline Giese interviews Production Director Christopher Dennis.
Chris Dennis talks about the role of a production director and his work as a lighting designer, specifically for Helgi Tomasson’s new ballet Caprice. Chris gives insight into the design process of a new work and discusses the technical changes that are influencing the future of design. He was instrumental in the creation process of Cinderella – working closely with the design team in both San Francisco Ballet and Amsterdam.Running time: 26 minutes
Claire Sheridan, Founder of the LEAP Program at Saint Mary's College, interviews San Francisco Ballet soloist Dores Andre.
San Francisco Ballet soloist Dores Andre dances three different roles in the ballet Cinderella: the Stepsister Clementine, the Spirit of Spring, and the Spanish Princess. In this interview, she discusses how she portrays each of these characters and comments on the technique of physical comedy. Dores also talks about her early training in Spain with Lola de Avila and describes what it’s like to work with choreographer Christopher Wheeldon.Running time: 24 minutes
Cheryl A. Ossola, SF Ballet writer and Dance Studio Life magazine editor in chief, interviews Wardrobe Manager George Elvin.
George Elvin has spent 37 years at San Francisco Ballet, working his way up from a dresser for Nutcracker. Now he manages the wardrobe department’s day-to-day operations of the, deals with the budget, oversees rentals, and handles the men’s costumes. In this interview, he talks about the costumes for Christopher Wheeldon’s Cinderella, the logistics and challenges of costuming a production, and what it takes to go on tour with hundreds of costumes.Running time: 31 minutes
Cheryl A. Ossola, SF Ballet writer and Dance Studio Life magazine editor in chief, interviews guest scholar Dr. Stephanie Jordan.
Dr. Stephanie Jordan, considered one of the best researchers and thinkers on the relationship between dance and music, discusses her path to this unusual scholarly role and how we can better understand the ways in which the two arts forms intersect. Using examples from this season’s repertory, she discusses the musicality of choreographers Alexei Ratmansky, Mark Morris, and George Balanchine.Running time: 32 minutes
Mary Wood interviews Roy Malan.
Roy Malan, Concert Master with the San Francisco Ballet Orchestra since its inaugural season 40 years ago, reminisces about the challenges and high points of this significant career. Facing retirement at the end of the 2014 repertory season, he discusses in his witty and engaging manner the projects that will continue to keep him busy contributing to the world or music as he teaches, plays chamber music, and directs ensembles in the Bay Area and beyond.Running time: 30 minutes
Christensen Society Officer Jasmine Yep interviews Corps de Ballet Dancer Esteban Hernandez.Running time: 27 minutes
Former Board Relations Manager Jennifer French Kovacevich interviews Soloist James Sofranko.Running time: 29 minutes
Mary Wood interviews John Macfarlane and David Finn.
Scenic & Costume Designer, John Macfarlane, and Lighting Designer, David Finn discuss the creation of Hummingbird, choreographed by Liam Scarlett, on the eve of its premiere. Their long-standing collaboration provides the opportunity for them to elaborate on the creative contributions of the design team, and they offer insights into production of Scarlett’s first work for San Francisco Ballet.Running time: 30 minutes
Cheryl A. Ossola, SF Ballet writer and Dance Studio Life magazine editor in chief, interviews Elyse Borne, stager for the George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins Trusts.
Elyse Borne, a former dancer with New York City Ballet and a former ballet master at SF Ballet, discusses the role of a stager and the methods used to ensure that a restaged work is as close to the choreographer’s original intent as possible. She touches on the music challenges of Balanchine’s Agon, dancing in his Brahms-Schoenberg Quartet, and working with Robbins.Running time: 31 minutes
Mary Wood interviews Ricardo Bustamante.
Ricardo Bustamante, Ballet Master and Assistant to the Director, provides an enthusiastic review of the season, reviewing the importance of the company’s 2-week residency at the New York Center for the Performing Arts in the Fall of 2013. He offers comments on the world premiere Hummingbird, calling it “one of his favorites”, and the challenging Suite en Blanc, a contrast in style. He looks forward to the company’s return to Paris in the summer of 2014, performing in “Les Été de la Danse” Festival during its 10th anniversary. He concludes the lively Q&A session with a description of a “day in the life” of a Ballet Master.Running time: 30 minutes
Cheryl A. Ossola, SF Ballet writer and Dance Studio Life magazine editor in chief, interviews Music Director and Principal Conductor Martin West.
Martin West discusses his childhood start in music, his studies in music and mathematics, and his “sink-or-swim” debut as a ballet orchestra conductor at English National Ballet. Also included are his conducting teacher’s connection to Dmitri Shostakovich, preparations for the Company’s upcoming Paris tour, and the orchestra’s activities outside of the pit, such as the CD recordings done at Skywalker Ranch.Running time: 32 minutes
Mary Wood interviews Luke Willis.
Luke Willis, a member of the corps de ballet since 2007, gives a passionate description of the roles he has performed and his enthusiasm for taking part in the creative process of choreography. He offers a lively insight into being part of the ensemble in the final movement of Balanchine’s Brahms-Schoenberg Quartet, and then speaks eloquently about performing Robbins’ Glass Pieces, the last ballet he will perform at SFB. He concludes by recounting his plans for training in film production, following his departure at the end of the 2014 season.Running time: 30 minutes
Jennifer French Kovacevich interviews Principal Dancer Rubén Martín Cintas.
Rubén Martín Cintas discusses his retirement as a dancer and reflects on highlights of his career. Ruben also talks about his new career as a ballet teacher with the San Francisco Ballet School.Running time: 30 minutes
Music for 2011 Season podcasts by Jamie Narushchen