Press Releases

April 23, 2015

San Francisco Ballet Announces the 2016 Season

Highlights Include the North American Premiere of Forsythe's Pas/Parts & New Works by Peck & Scarlett

Plus Works by Balanchine, Cranko, Morris, Possokhov, Ratmansky, Robbins, Tomasson & Wheeldon

SAN FRANCISCO, Thursday, April 23, 2015—San Francisco Ballet, the oldest professional ballet company in America, has announced its 2016 Repertory Season program and schedule.

2016 Season
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 & 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. I’m also delighted to present 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. Finally, I’m thrilled that San Francisco audiences will see the North American premiere of William Forsythe’s Pas/Parts; SF Ballet is honored to be the first American company to perform the work.”

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. Of the work for eight dancers, the San Jose Mercury News noted, “It is just such images [from 7 for Eight] that keep ballet fans returning season after season…” Possokhov’s Magrittomania premiered in 2000 as part of the Company’s Discovery Program. The whimsical work, reprised most recently in 2006, was inspired by the work of Belgian surrealist René Magritte. The ballet is set to music by Ludwig van Beethoven that has been rearranged for a film score by Russian composer Yuri Krasavin. Forsythe’s Pas/Parts was premiered by Paris Opéra Ballet in 1999 and features 15 dancers. The music, by Thom Willems, is comprised of 20 sections of various styles from jazzy to orchestral. The work is rarely seen and SF Ballet’s presentation will be a North American premiere as well as an American company premiere; SF Ballet is only the second company to perform the work. Called “superb” by The New York Times, Pas/Parts features scenic and lighting design by William Forsythe and costume design by Stephen Galloway.

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. The work for four couples was called “a dazzling realization of Ligeti’s piano music” by The Financial Times (London). In addition to his upcoming world premiere, Scarlett has created one work on SF Ballet—Hummingbird—which debuted to audience and critical acclaim in 2014. Scarlett, who retired as a dancer from The Royal Ballet in 2012 to pursue choreography, has created works for companies including The Royal Ballet, New York City Ballet, English National Ballet, and Miami City Ballet, among others. He currently holds the title of artist in residence at The Royal Ballet. Set to music by Igor Stravinsky, Balanchine’s “Rubies” is the middle piece in a full evening-length ballet, Jewels. Created in 1967 for New York City Ballet, the ballet in three parts (“Emeralds,” “Rubies,” “Diamonds”) was inspired by the jewelry of Van Cleef and Arpels and is distinct in mood and style. “Rubies” was last performed by SF Ballet as part of Jewels in 2009 and was first performed by the Company in 1987.

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. Upon its premiere, the production was called “striking” and “a runaway box office hit” by the San Francisco Chronicle. The first production of Swan Lake was premiered by the Bolshoi Ballet in 1877, but it is the 1895 version by Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov that is the most renowned. Notably, SF Ballet performed the first American production of Swan Lake in 1940, choreographed by Willam Christensen.

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, with original choreography by Arthur Saint-Léon. In 1939, SF Ballet presented the first production of Coppélia choreographed by an American choreographer (Willam Christensen). This new production of Alexandra Danilova and Balanchine’s Coppélia from 1974, includes commissioned scenic and costume design by Roberta Guidi di Bagno, with lighting design by Randall G. Chiarelli. SF Ballet first performed the new production, a co-production with Pacific Northwest Ballet, on the 2011 Season and of the work, the San Francisco Chronicle noted, “Hurry…to the War Memorial Opera House, where the San Francisco Ballet's new production of the 19th century classic “Coppélia” radiates a freshness and charm that will enhance any season…”

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. SF Ballet first presented the work in 2002 and most recently, on the 2015 Season where the Bay Area Reporter deemed it a “feast of pure dancing…” Possokhov’s Swimmer, inspired by the John Cheever story entitled “The Swimmer,” pays homage to American art of all types—literature, film, fine art and music—that has inspired Possokhov in some way. The multi-media work features music by Shinji Eshima, Tom Waits, Kathleen Brennan, and Gavin Bryars; with scenic design by Alexander V. Nichols, costume design by Mark Zappone, lighting design by David Finn, and video design by Kate Duhamel. Swimmer premiered to much acclaim and the San Jose Mercury News called it “youthful, quirky and visually arresting.”

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. The work was premiered by New York City Ballet in 2000 as part of The Diamond Project and a year later, it received its SF Ballet premiere. New York magazine described the piece as “[one that] revel[s] in the rich resources of the classical vocabulary and the challenge of manipulating lots of people…eloquently—through kaleidoscopic permutations in a grand-scale space.” Ratmansky’s Seven Sonatas, an SF Ballet premiere, is set to music by Domenico Scarlatti, with costume design by Holly Hynes, and lighting design by Brad Fields. The work for three couples was premiered by American Ballet Theatre in 2009. Of the ballet, the New York Times remarked, “The choreography…exposes uncertainty in relationships while revealing so many facets of dancing, it’s like holding a diamond in sunlight.” Wheeldon’s Rush©, set to Bohuslav Martinů’s Sinfonietta La Jolla, was premiered by SF Ballet at the Edinburgh Festival in 2004. Rush©, last performed in full by the Company in 2010, features scenic and costume design by Jon Morrell and lighting design by Mark Stanley.

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. An excerpt from the ballet was given its premiere at the Dancing for Life Benefit in 1987 (Baryshnikov was an original cast member) and SF Ballet first performed the work in 1996, and most recently in 2008. New York City Ballet Soloist and Resident Choreographer Justin Peck will be creating a new work for SF Ballet’s 2016 Season. Peck has choreographed for companies and organizations including Miami City Ballet, the School of American Ballet, and the New York Fall for Dance Festival, among others. In 2011, New York City Ballet Master in Chief Peter Martins appointed him to receive the first year-long residency at the New York Choreographic Institute and he is the second person in the history of New York City Ballet to hold the position of resident choreographer. Balanchine’s Theme and Variations for 26 dancers, was created in 1947 for Ballet Theatre (now American Ballet Theatre). The work is set to the final movement of Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s third orchestral suite, consisting of 12 variations. SF Ballet first performed the work in 1986 and most recently, in 2011.

Program 8 opens Saturday, April 30 and features the return of John Cranko’s Onegin. Last performed by SF Ballet in 2013, this dramatic 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. Of the work, which has been performed by more than 20 companies around the world, the San Francisco Chronicle noted, “Remarkably imaginative and dramatically coherent, Cranko's masterpiece still has the power to transport and astonish the audience...”

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.

Connecting with SF Ballet’s Online Communities
Follow us @sfballet, there’s a channel for everyone. SF Ballet has a rich digital presence offering numerous ways to connect with the artists of the Company. Join our Facebook community and connect with the largest group of SF Ballet fans online (facebook.com/sfballet). Follow us on Twitter to join in a global conversation about ballet (twitter.com/sfballet). Experience a backstage photographic journey from the perspective of the SF Ballet dancers on Instagram (instagram.com/sfballet). For unique behind-the-scenes perspectives read short essays and interviews on our blog (sfballetblog.org). Visit our YouTube page to see SF Ballet in motion (youtube.com/sfballet). 

“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 sfballet.org.

Subscription Tickets
Three, five, and eight program subscription packages to SF Ballet’s 2016 Repertory Season range in price from $75-1,504 and go on sale to the public on July 7, 2015. For information, please call Ticket Services at 415.865.200o or visit sfballet.org. Phone hours are Monday through Friday, 10am to 4pm. 

Single Tickets
Individual tickets for SF Ballet’s 2016 Repertory Season, starting at $24, will be available for advance sale online at sfballet.org beginning November 18, 2015 or by calling 415.865.2000, beginning January 4, 2016.

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2017 SEASON CO-PRODUCTION
As previously announced, SF Ballet will partner with The Royal Ballet on a co-production of the gothic classic, Frankenstein, choreographed by The Royal Ballet’s Artist in Residence Liam Scarlett. Scarlett’s concept is grounded in Mary Shelley’s original novel and the production will feature a new score commissioned by Lowell Liebermann, designs by John Macfarlane, and lighting design by David Finn. For more information, visit sfballet.org/about/media_center/ press_releases.

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.” 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. 2015 marks the 30th anniversary of Helgi Tomasson’s tenure as artistic director of San Francisco Ballet.

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