Press Releases

March 8, 2012

SF Ballet School Associate Director Lola de Avila to Step Down Following a Stellar Tenure with SF Ballet

Current SF Ballet School Trainee Principal Patrick Armand Named Successor

SAN FRANCISCO, March 8, 2012—Following a distinguished, cumulative thirteen-year tenure as San Francisco Ballet School associate director, Lola de Avila will be stepping down in late August to oversee the full-time operation of the Maria de Avila Ballet School in her native Spain and pursue other interests. Patrick Armand, current SF Ballet School Trainee Program principal, will assume the position of SF Ballet School associate director, effective September 4. As principal, Armand currently oversees the Trainee Program, which provides the experience necessary to ease the transition from student to professional dancer, all while offering personal attention in a small, nurturing environment.

Over the next six months, de Avila will work closely with Armand to transition her many duties. Under de Avila’s direction, the School embarked on its first-ever European audition tour earlier this year, its men’s program was expanded and strengthened, a standard for curriculum was set, and currently, over half of the Company members have received their training at the SF Ballet School.

“The Ballet has had a relationship with Lola for over twenty years and during that time, she has been a wonderful asset to the Ballet School and to the organization at large and we’re sad to see her go,” said SF Ballet Executive Director Glenn McCoy. “However, we are very pleased with Patrick’s appointment. His in-depth knowledge of the art form and our School and his impressive track record managing our Trainee Program make him a natural fit for this position.”

“Lola’s contributions have been immeasurable and I can’t personally thank her enough for her dedication, leadership, and stewardship,” said SF Ballet Artistic Director & Principal Choreographer Helgi Tomasson. “I appreciate that she has always held the School to the highest standards and her hard work has certainly contributed to the School’s reputation as a world-class training institution. In addition, I feel that Patrick has done a wonderful job with the Trainees and I am very confident in his ability to lead the School, especially given his broad experience nationally and internationally. I look forward to working more closely with him.”

In his new role as SF Ballet School associate director, Armand’s responsibilities will include recruiting and retaining students for the School’s upper levels, managing the faculty and Trainee Program, overseeing all auditions, and setting the School’s schedule.

Born in Marseille, France, Armand studied at the Ecole de Danse de Marseille. He won The Prix de Lausanne in 1980 and continued his studies at the School of American Ballet and at The Centre de Danse International in Cannes. In 1981, he joined the Ballet Theatre Français and was promoted to principal dancer in 1983. Armand was nominated the same year for a Laurence Olivier Award for his performance of Béjart's Song of a Wayfarer with Rudolf Nureyev. In 1984, he was invited by Peter Schaufuss to join the London Festival Ballet (now English National Ballet), and in 1990 he joined the Boston Ballet under the direction of Bruce Marks.

Armand’s repertoire includes all the major roles in the classical repertory and many leading roles in works by Sir Frederick Ashton, George Balanchine, John Cranko, Sir Kenneth MacMillan, Roland Petit, Glen Tetley, and Hans van Manen. In addition, he has had work created on him by Christopher Bruce, Twyla Tharp, and Christopher Wheeldon, among others. As a guest artist, Armand performed with the Australian Ballet, the Bayerische Staatsballet, the Deutsche Oper Ballet (Berlin), the Kirov Ballet, and the Kobayashi Ballet. Since 2002, he has been the director of the Studio Ballet Colette Armand in Marseille. He has also been a frequent guest teacher for major ballet schools and companies. 

In 2003, Armand co-produced Raymonda Act III for the Kobayashi Ballet at Tokyo’s New National Theater. His most recent project was a production of Don Quixote for the National Theater in Zagreb, which premiered in June 2010. Armand served as a jury member of the Prix de Lausanne, both in 1998 and 2009, and returned as a teacher and coach for the 2010, 2011, and 2012 competitions. In 2006, he was appointed teacher and ballet master of the Teatro alla Scala in Milan. In 2010, Armand was appointed principal of the SF Ballet School Trainee Program. 

San Francisco Ballet
As America’s first 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, Willam and Harold Christensen, San Francisco Ballet currently presents more than 100 performances annually, both locally and internationally. Under the direction of Helgi Tomasson for more than two decades, the Company has achieved an international reputation as one of the preeminent ballet companies in the world. In 2005, San Francisco Ballet won the prestigious Laurence Olivier Award in the category of “Outstanding Achievement in Dance” and in 2006, it was the first non-European company elected “Company of the Year” in Dance Europe magazine’s annual readers’ poll. In 2008, the Company marked its 75th anniversary with a host of initiatives including an ambitious New Works Festival. Recent highlights include a tour to the People’s Republic of China, the celebration of Artistic Director & Principal Choreographer Helgi Tomasson’s 25th anniversary with the Company, and the United States premiere of John Neumeier’s The Little Mermaid, which was broadcast internationally, as well as nationally on PBS’s Great Performances “Dance in America” in December 2011.

* * * *