Press Releases

February 15, 2013

San Francisco Ballet presents the U.S. premiere of Christopher Wheeldon's Cinderella, May 3-12, 2013

SAN FRANCISCO, Friday, February 15, 2013—The San Francisco Ballet is pleased to present the U.S. premiere of Christopher Wheeldon's Cinderella. Co-produced by SF Ballet and the Dutch National Ballet, Cinderella had its world premiere in December 2012 with the Dutch National Ballet performing at The Amsterdam Music Theatre. The production was met with rave reviews - celebrated as "a triumph of storytelling and stage design firmly in touch with the 21st Century" (Financial Times) and "a vibrant piece of theatre and an enchanting love story rolled into a hugely entertaining whole" (The Times of London).

Set to the music of Sergei Prokofiev, Wheeldon's interpretation combines parts of both the Charles Perrault and Brothers Grimm versions, along with some new elements. In this Cinderella there is no fairy godmother, pumpkin coach, or clock striking midnight. Rather, Wheeldon provides us with a magical tale of another sort-one that is stunningly visual and deeply moving. Wheeldon gives depth to the story's characters by portraying Cinderella as more in charge of her destiny than she is traditionally depicted, and the prince plays a bigger role than in other productions. We see both characters as young children and glimpse Cinderella's life before her mother dies. And, in this adaption, Cinderella plants a hazel branch on her mother's grave. Watered by Cinderella's tears, the branch grown into an enormous magical, dancing tree, that along with four spirits, watches over Cinderella and grants all her wishes.

"This Cinderella is different from other ballet versions of the story," said Wheeldon. "We've combined elements of the Grimm and Perrault versions of the tale and added some of our own-the production is comical, romantic and theatrical. We want to take audiences on a magical journey."

Wheeldon created the choreography for Cinderella in an unusual way - part of the choreography was created in San Francisco and part in Holland. In creating a world for his characters to inhabit, Wheeldon assembled an artistic team with imaginations as big as his own. The libretto is written by Craig Lucas, a renowned playwright, director, and screenwriter who began his career as an actor. Among other awards, Lucas was nominated for Broadway's 1990 Tony Award as author of Best Play nominee Prelude to a Kiss (in 1991 he was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize for Drama for the work) and again in 2005 for the book Light in the Piazza.

Sets and costumes for this production are by the British designer Julian Crouch, renowned for his designs for Philip Glass's masterpiece Satyagraha for the Metropolitan Opera in New York and the Broadway musical The Addams Family, among other works. For the latter production, he received a Drama Desk Award. Locally, Crouch served as associate director/designer for Shockheaded Peter, which was performed at San Francisco's American Conservatory Theater in 2000. Cinderella is his first ballet production.

Also collaborating on this project is award-winning puppeteer Basil Twist, who trained at École Supérieure Nationale des Arts de la Marionnette in Charleville-Mézières, France. Twist's primary focus was to make the tree be more than mere scenery-a character that would, in effect, dance. Twist has done many productions involving dance and music, including the Obie Award-winning Symphonie Fantastique, and, along with Crouch, The Addams Family. A San Francisco native, Twist first became interested in puppetry through his mother, who was president of the San Francisco Puppeteers Guild. In San Francisco, Twist collaborated with choreographer Joe Goode and playwright Paula Vogel to stage The Long Christmas Ride Home at the Magic Theatre and with Goode on his dance theater piece, Wonderboy.

"We are thrilled to present such a creative and masterful interpretation of Cinderella by Christopher Wheeldon," said SF Ballet Artistic Director & Principal Choreographer Helgi Tomasson. "We value our long relationship with Christopher and knew he would approach this classic in a unique way. We are also so pleased to have collaborated with our colleagues at Dutch National Ballet to co-produce this work."

One of the most in-demand dancemakers working today Christopher Wheeldon is formerly a resident choreographer of New York City Ballet, founder/ artistic director of his own company and an artistic associate at The Royal Ballet. Inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences last October as a Foreign Honorary Member, the prolific choreographer has become a frequent presence at SF Ballet over the last decade. Cinderella, his eighth commission and first full-length work for the Company (a total of 12 of his ballets are in the repertory), follows the success of his 2011 Alice's Adventures in Wonderland-a co-production of the National Ballet Canada and The Royal Ballet.

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, 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. In 2012, SF Ballet's ambitious tour schedule included engagements in London and Washington, D.C., as well as first time visits to Hamburg, Moscow, and Sun Valley, Idaho.

Cinderella Funders 
The 2013 San Francisco Ballet premiere of Cinderella is made possible by New Productions Fund Lead Sponsors Mrs. Jeannik Méquet Littlefield, and Mr. and Mrs. John S. Osterweis; Major Sponsors Rudolf Nureyev Dance Foundation, and Larry and Joyce Stupski; and Sponsors Richard C. Barker, Suzy Kellems Dominik, Stephanie Ejabat, the Gaia Fund, and Cecilia and Jim Herbert. Additional support is provided by Major Sponsor Timothy Dattels and Kristine Johnson, and Full Length Ballets Sponsor Koret Foundation.

Performances of the United States premiere of Christopher Wheeldon's Cinderella are made possible through the generous support of Sue and John Diekman, Jason M. Fish and Courtney Benoist, Elizabeth and Richard Fullerton, Mrs. Beth Grossman, Sandra and James Katzman, Bob Ross Foundation, and Randee and Joseph Seiger.

Performance dates & times:
May 3-12, 2013
Fri 3, 8pm
Sat 4, 8pm
Sun 5, 2pm
Tue 7, 8pm
Wed 8, 7:30pm
Thu 9, 8pm
Fri 10, 8pm
Sat 11, 2pm/8pm
Sun 12, 2pm

All performances at the War Memorial Opera House at 301 Van Ness Avenue, San Francisco, CA.

Tickets and more information at or 415.865.2000.

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