San Francisco Ballet Announces 2015 Repertory Season & Celebrates Helgi Tomasson's 30th Anniversary as Artistic Director
Plus Works by Balanchine, Caniparoli, Forsythe, Kobborg, MacMillan, Makarova, Ratmansky, Robbins, Scarlett, Tomasson, van Manen & Wheeldon
SAN FRANCISCO, Wednesday, April 2, 2014—San Francisco Ballet, the oldest professional ballet company in America, has announced the repertory and performance schedule for its 82nd Repertory Season. This season also marks the 30th anniversary of SF Ballet Artistic Director & Principal Choreographer Helgi Tomasson’s tenure with the Company—Tomasson is one of the ballet world’s longest serving artistic directors. Under his leadership, SF Ballet has acquired a world-class reputation for its diverse repertory, abundant acquisition of new work, and its skillful and versatile dancers. Of Tomasson, The Guardian (U.K.) noted, “As director [he]…has acquire[d] an aura of infallibility, his expertise in laying down repertory, and in balancing great evenings of dance, is held in envy by the rest of the profession.”
As part of his vision for SF Ballet, Tomasson has consistently championed new work, forging strong relationships with some of the most preeminent choreographers working today. SF Ballet’s 2015 Repertory Season not only showcases works by many of these choreographers, but also includes world premieres by SF Ballet Choreographer in Residence Yuri Possokhov and Company Corps de Ballet member Myles Thatcher. In addition, the season features ballets by Jerome Robbins and George Balanchine, two of Tomasson’s mentors during his celebrated fifteen-year tenure as a principal dancer with New York City Ballet. Also on the season are three of his most popular full-length productions—Giselle and Romeo & Juliet, as well as Tomasson/Possokhov’s Don Quixote, plus works by choreographers such as Val Caniparoli, William Forsythe, Johan Kobborg, Sir Kenneth MacMillan, Natalia Makarova, Alexei Ratmansky, Liam Scarlett, Tomasson, Hans van Manen, and Christopher Wheeldon.
The 2015 Repertory Season will begin with Nutcracker, which runs December 12 through 29, 2014 for a total of 30 performances. Following the Opening Night Gala on Thursday, January 22, 2015, the season will consist of eight programs performed in alternating repertory, from January 27 to May 10.
“This season, I’m delighted to present a wide range of works, from full-length favorites like Romeo & Juliet, to revivals of acclaimed works such as Lambarena, The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude, and RAkU, as well as two world premieres,” said SF Ballet Artistic Director & Principal Choreographer Helgi Tomasson. “One of the hallmarks of this Company is its ability to perform a myriad of different dance styles very well and this season is no exception. Not only does this depth of repertory provide our audiences with an extremely rich experience across the entire season—but I think our dancers are at their best when they are challenged.”
2015 Repertory Season Overview
Program 1 opens Tuesday, January 27 and includes George Balanchine’s seminal Serenade, the first ballet that the master choreographer created in America, which was first performed in 1934 by students of the School of American Ballet. Set to Tchaikovsky’s Serenade for Strings in C, Op. 48, the work was first performed by SF Ballet in 1952 and most recently, during the 2010 Repertory Season. The program also includes Possokhov’s RAkU, which debuted during the 2011 Repertory Season. This highly theatrical work features scenic design by Alexander V. Nichols, costume design by Mark Zappone, and lighting design by Christopher Dennis. The ballet is set to an original score by SF Ballet Orchestra member Shinji Eshima, and was hailed by the Orange County Register as “hauntingly beautiful.” Set to traditional African music and the music of Johann Sebastian Bach (as arranged by Pierre Akendengué and Hughes de Courson), Val Caniparoli’s Lambarena celebrates its 20th anniversary in 2015. The much lauded work has been performed by more than 20 companies over the past two decades and excerpts of the ballet have been performed on hundreds of galas. Lambarena features scenic and costume design by Sandra Woodall, with lighting design by Lisa J. Pinkham.
Program 2 opens on Thursday, January 29 with Tomasson’s staging of Giselle, which was premiered by SF Ballet in 1999, and features scenic, costume, and lighting design by Mikael Melbye. The production is set to the music of Adolphe Adam with additional music, orchestrations and arrangements by Friedrich Burgmüller, Ludwig Minkus, and Emil de Cou. Giselle was first performed in Paris in 1841 and Tomasson’s version was last performed during the 2014 Repertory Season. The two-act ballet tells the story of a peasant girl named Giselle who dies of a broken heart after discovering her lover is betrothed to someone else. The New York Times wrote: “Watching…San Francisco Ballet’s Giselle…I marveled more than ever at what a haven of classical style this company has become under its artistic director, Helgi Tomasson.”
Program 3 opens on Tuesday, February 24 and includes William Forsythe’s The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude. Originally choreographed for Ballet Frankfurt in 1996, the tour-de-force work for five dancers, with costume design by Stephen Galloway and lighting design by Forsythe, is set to the final movement of Franz Schubert’s Symphony No. 9. The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude was first performed by SF Ballet in 1998 and the New York Times heralded SF Ballet’s presentation of the work as “…a toast to classically trained dancers at their most sensational…” During the 2o14 Opening Night Gala, SF Ballet performed the U.S. premiere of Hans van Manen’s Variations for Two Couples. The work was premiered in 2012 by Het Nationale Ballet and that same year, it won a Benois de la Danse Award for Best New Choreographic Work. The ballet is set to music by Benjamin Britten, Einojuhani Rautavaara, Stefan Kovács Tickmayer, and Aster Piazzolla and features costume design by Keso Dekker and lighting design by Bert Dalhuysen. SF Ballet Corps de Ballet member Myles Thatcher will create a new work for SF Ballet in 2015. Thatcher, a native of Atlanta, joined the Company as an apprentice in 2009 and became a corps de ballet member a year later. Since then, has choreographed a number of works for the SF Ballet School, as well as In the Passerine’s Clutch for the 2013 Opening Night Gala. The Kingdom of the Shades from La Bayadère, Act II will return following its revival during the 2014 Repertory Season. Choreographed by Natalia Makarova after Marius Petipa, the scene depicts the opium-induced hallucination of Solor, who is bereaved over the loss of his murdered love Nikiya. The original full-length version of La Bayadère was first performed in Russia in 1877; Makarova first staged The Kingdom of the Shades for American Ballet Theatre in 1974. SF Ballet first performed her choreography of the famous scene during the 2000 Repertory Season.
Program 4 opens on Thursday, February 26 and includes Dances at a Gathering, first performed by SF Ballet during the 2002 Repertory Season, and choreographed by Jerome Robbins for New York City Ballet in 1969. The one-hour ballet features five men and five women dancing various duets, solos, and larger groupings to 18 Chopin piano sonatas. The work was last performed by the Company during the 2003 Repertory Season and features costume design by Joe Eula and lighting design by Jennifer Tipton. Program 4 also features a reprise of Liam Scarlett’s as-yet-untitled new work for the 2014 Repertory Season. Set to the music of Philip Glass, the work features scenic and costume design by John Macfarlane and lighting design by David Finn. Scarlett was appointed The Royal Ballet’s first artist in residence in 2012 and has created works for that company, in addition to New York City Ballet, Miami City Ballet, and the Norwegian National Ballet.
Program 5 opens Friday, March 20 with Tomasson/Possokhov’s Don Quixote, set to music by Léon Minkus. This version of the full-length production was first performed by SF Ballet during the 2003 Repertory Season. The production is based on the classic novel by Miguel de Cervantes and the ballet focuses on the love story of the innkeeper’s daughter Kitri, and the town barber, Basilio. With production, additional choreography and staging by Tomasson and Possokhov, Don Quixote also features scenic and costume design by Martin Pakledinaz (the production was newly designed in 2012), and lighting design by James F. Ingalls. The San Francisco Appeal remarked, “With deep belly laughs, bravado, masterful technique, and uplifting choreography, ‘Don Q’ has something for just about everyone.”
Program 6 opens Wednesday, April 8 and includes Christopher Wheeldon’s Continuum, set to music by György Ligeti, which was premiered by SF Ballet during its 2002 Repertory Season. The 43-minute piece for eight dancers, was last performed in full by the Company during its 2006 Repertory Season and was called “richly layered” by the Chicago Tribune. Continuum features lighting design by Natasha Katz. SF Ballet Choreographer in Residence Yuri Possokhov, who has over 15 works in the Company repertory, will create a new work for the 2015 Repertory Season. Possokhov, who performed as a principal dancer with SF Ballet from 1994-2006, has choreographed ballets for a number of companies including the Joffrey Ballet, Bolshoi Ballet, and the Mariinsky Ballet. Alexei Ratmansky’s Piano Concerto #1 concludes Program 6. The work was first performed in full by American Ballet Theatre in 2013 and received its Company and West Coast premieres by SF Ballet during the 2014 Repertory Season, as the third act of Ratmansky’s full-evening Shostakovich Trilogy (a co-production between SF Ballet and American Ballet Theatre). The work features scenic design by George Tsypin, costume design by Keso Dekker, and lighting design by Jennifer Tipton. Set to Dmitri Shostakovich’s Concerto No. 1 for Piano, Trumpet and Strings, Op. 25, the Bessie-Award-nominated work is not only an homage to Shostakovich but to Russia, the homeland of both Shostakovich and Ratmansky. Under Stalinist’s oppressive rule, Shostakovich’s unwillingness to compromise his ideals—often expressed in his music—made him a national hero.
Program 7 opens Friday, April 10 and includes Tomasson’s Caprice, set to Camille Saint-Saëns’ Symphony No. 2. This work, which will have its premiere during the 2014 Repertory Season, is the first ballet Tomasson has created since Trio in 2011. Caprice features scenic design by Alexander V. Nichols, costume design by Holly Hynes, and lighting design by Christopher Dennis. When Sir Kenneth MacMillan first became director of the Ballet of the Deutsche Oper in 1966, Concerto—set to the Adagio from Shostakovich’s Piano Concerto No. 2—was one of the first works he created. SF Ballet first performed the second movement pas de deux during its 2014 Opening Night Gala and will perform this pas de deux from Concerto again on Program 7. Johan Kobborg’s Les Lutins is set to music by Henri Wieniawski and Antonio Bazzini. The work for three dancers, staged as a lighthearted competition, also had its SF Ballet premiere during the 2014 Opening Night Gala. Hailed as “joyous” by the San Francisco Chronicle, the work was first performed in 2009 by The Royal Ballet and features costume design by Kobborg. Balanchine’s neoclassical masterpiece The Four Temperaments is set to music by Paul Hindemith. Originally performed by Ballet Society (a precursor to New York City Ballet) in 1946, the work for 25 dancers was first performed by SF Ballet in 1974 and most recently during the 2012 Repertory Season.
Program 8 opens Friday, May 1 with Tomasson’s Romeo & Juliet. First performed by the Company in 1994, this production features scenic and costume design by Jens-Jacob Worsaae, lighting design by Thomas R. Skelton, and fight scene choreography by Martino Pistone in collaboration with Tomasson. Set to the iconic score by Sergei Prokofiev, the ballet in three acts is based on the Shakespearean tragedy and was last performed by the Company during the 2012 Repertory Season. Of the production, the Huffington Post noted, “Artistic Director Helgi Tomasson lifts Shakespeare’s complex and familiar language off the gilded pages and translates it into lucid classical choreography that is visceral, fresh, and ultimately sublime.”
During the 2015 Repertory Season, the Company will perform a total of 61 performances. Tuesday and Thursday through Saturday evening performances are at 8pm; Wednesday evening performances are at 7:30pm; Saturday and Sunday matinees are at 2pm. The SF Ballet Orchestra will accompany all programs.
With Special Thanks
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, Christine H. Russell Fund of the Columbia Foundation, Suzy Kellems Dominik, Stephanie Barlage Ejabat, Gaia Fund, The William Randolph Hearst Foundation, Cecilia and Jim Herbert, Alison and Michael Mauzé, and Diane B. Wilsey.
Connecting with SF Ballet’s Online Communities
SF Ballet has a rich digital presence on a number of online/social media platforms, offering numerous ways for dance enthusiasts around the world to connect with the artists of the Company. SF Ballet’s online communities include the Company’s Facebook Page (facebook.com/sfballet), videos on YouTube (youtube.com/sfballet), behind-the-scenes content on Twitter (@sfballet) and Instagram (instagram.com/sfballet), and photography on Pinterest (pinterest.com/sfballet) and Tumblr (sfballet.tumblr.com).
“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 select 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, which are free and open to the public, during the season. For more information, visit sfballet.org.
Three, five, and eight program subscription packages to SF Ballet’s 2015 Repertory Season range in price from $70–1,411 and go on sale to the public on June 10, 2014. For information, please call Ticket Services at 415.865.200o or visit sfballet.org. Phone hours are Monday through Friday, 10am to 4pm.
Individual tickets for SF Ballet’s 2015 Repertory Season, starting at $22, will be available for advance sale online at sfballet.org beginning November 19, 2014 or by calling 415.865.2000, beginning January 5, 2015.
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, 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 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 2011. In 2012, SF Ballet’s ambitious tour schedule included London and Washington, D.C., plus first-time visits to Hamburg, Moscow, and Sun Valley, Idaho. In October 2013, the Company performed at New York’s David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center, where The New York Times declared SF Ballet “a national treasure.” 2015 marks the 30th anniversary of Helgi Tomasson’s tenure as artistic director of San Francisco Ballet.
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