San Francisco Ballet Announces 2017 Season
Highlights Include North American Premiere of Scarlett's Frankenstein, an All-Balanchine Program, and World Premieres by Bubeníček, Possokhov, Pita & Thatcher
Plus works by Forsythe, Peck, Ratmansky, Scarlett, Tomasson & Wheeldon
SAN FRANCISCO, Friday, April 1, 2016—San Francisco Ballet, the oldest professional ballet company in America, has announced its 2017 Season program and schedule.
As previously announced, SF Ballet will make its Festival Napa Valley debut on Friday, July 22, accompanied by members of the SF Ballet Orchestra. The mixed-repertory program will feature Tomasson’s The Fifth Season and Concerto Grosso, in addition to other classical works. SF Ballet will also tour to Washington, D.C.’s Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts from October 26-30, 2016 where the Company will present seven performances of Christopher Wheeldon’s full-length production of Cinderella. In addition, the Company will once again participate in World Ballet Day LIVE, a day-long streaming event from five of the world’s leading ballet companies. This year’s event will take place in October 2016 and participating companies include The Royal Ballet, The National Ballet of Canada, the Australian Ballet, and the Bolshoi Ballet, in addition to SF Ballet.
The 2017 Season will continue with Nutcracker, which runs December 10-29, 2016 for a total of 33 performances. Following the Opening Night Gala on Thursday, January 19, 2017, the season will consist of eight programs, from January 24 to May 7.
“This season, I’m especially pleased that SF Ballet will partner with The Royal Ballet on a co-production of a brand-new Frankenstein by Liam [Scarlett],” said SF Ballet Artistic Director & Principal Choreographer Helgi Tomasson. “The production designs are especially rich and evocative of the gothic spirit of Shelley’s novel and I like that the ballet’s narrative is focused on relationships and a departure from the common characterization of the book as simply a horror story. I know audiences will find this new work riveting. I’m also pleased to present a program dedicated to works by master choreographer George Balanchine; as well as new ballets by wonderful, homegrown talent like Yuri [Possokhov] and Myles [Thatcher]; in addition to some great choreographers who may be less well-known by our audiences: Arthur Pita and Jiří Bubeníček.”
Program 1 opens Tuesday, January 24 with Tomasson’s Haffner Symphony, a new work by Bubeníček, and NYCB Resident Choreographer Justin Peck’s In the Countenance of Kings. Haffner Symphony, set to Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Symphony No. 35 in D Major, was created for the Mozart & His Time Bicentennial Celebration in 1991. Last performed in 2010, the work features scenic and costume design by Santo Loquasto and lighting design by Thomas R. Skelton. Upon its debut, the New York Times called Haffner Symphony “sublime.” Bubeníček hails from the Czech Republic and is a former dancer with Hamburg Ballet and Semperoper Ballet, as well as a former guest artist at Paris Opera Ballet. He has created works for companies including NYCB, Zurich Ballet, China National Ballet, and Vienna State Ballet, and the Company performed their first work of his (Gentle Memories) on the 2016 Season Opening Night Gala. On the 2016 Season, SF Ballet will premiere In the Countenance of Kings by Peck. This ballet, the first of Peck’s to enter SF Ballet’s repertory, is set to an orchestrated version of Sufjan Stevens’ score The BQE. Peck, who is currently a soloist at NYCB, has created roughly 30 ballets for a range of organizations in addition to NYCB, including Miami City Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet, the New York Choreographic Institute, and the School of American Ballet.
Program 2 opens on Thursday, January 26 with Alexei Ratmansky’s Seven Sonatas, a new work by Yuri Possokhov, and William Forsythe’s Pas/Parts 2016. Seven Sonatas, set to seven keyboard sonatas by Domenico Scarlatti, features costume design by Holly Hynes and lighting design by Brad Fields. Seven Sonatas was premiered at Bard College in 2009 by American Ballet Theatre (ABT) and was first performed by SF Ballet on the 2016 Season. The ballet has received critical acclaim, with the Independent (U.K.) proclaiming it a “rich work” and the Sydney Morning Herald noting its “beautiful, often spectacular choreography.” Possokhov, former principal dancer and current SF Ballet choreographer in residence, will create a new work for the 2017 Season. Possokhov has created over 15 works for the Company and his latest, Swimmer, was a hit upon its debut on the 2015 Season (it was reprised on the 2016 Season). Possokhov has created ballets for a number of companies, including the Bolshoi Ballet, the Joffrey Ballet, and Royal Danish Ballet, among others. Forsythe’s Pas/Parts 2016, originally entitled Pas/Parts, was created for Paris Opera Ballet in 1999 and is set to music by Thom Willems. The abstract work, heavily re-choreographed for SF Ballet, had its North American premiere by SF Ballet on the 2016 Season. The work features scenic and lighting design by Forsythe, with costume design by Stephen Galloway and was called “a major acquisition” by the San Francisco Chronicle.
Program 3 opens on Friday, February 17 with the North American premiere of Liam Scarlett’s full-length production of Frankenstein. The ballet in three acts is a co-production with London’s The Royal Ballet who will present the world premiere of the work in May 2016. The commissioned score is by American composer Lowell Liebermann whose music is renowned for its technical command and audience appeal. Liebermann has written over one-hundred works in all genres, his work has been played by orchestras worldwide, and his music has been represented on CD with over sixty releases to date. Scarlett’s creative team for the work includes set and costume design by John Macfarlane, lighting design by David Finn, and projection design by Finn Ross. The ballet is set in the mid-18th century and offers an adult exploration of Mary Shelley’s novel. However, instead of a horror story, the ballet’s focus is on themes of parent/child relationships and the love triangle between Elizabeth, Victor, and the Creature. Scarlett, The Royal Ballet’s artist in residence, has choreographed for a number of companies including English National Ballet, NYCB, Miami City Ballet, and ABT, among others. With Frankenstein, Scarlett will be the youngest choreographer to have a full-length work at the Royal Opera House. Scarlett has created two works for the Company to date: Hummingbird and Fearful Symmetries, which premiered on SF Ballet’s 2016 Season.
Program 4 opens on Tuesday, March 7 with an all-Balanchine Program that includes Stravinsky Violin Concerto, Prodigal Son, and “Diamonds.” Last performed on tour in 2010, Stravinsky Violin Concerto is set to Igor Stravinsky’s Violin Concerto in D. The neoclassical ballet premiered in 1972, as part of NYCB’s Stravinsky Festival, and was first performed by SF Ballet in 1995. Set to music by Sergei Prokofiev, Balanchine’s Prodigal Son was first created in 1929 for Serge Diaghilev’s Ballet Russes. The ballet, based on a biblical parable, features universal themes of sin and redemption. The original work featured costume and scenic design by Georges Rouault, with a libretto by Boris Kochno, and original lighting design by Jean Rosenthal. The work was first performed by SF Ballet in 1984 and last performed by the Company in 2001. Balanchine’s “Diamonds” is the third section of Balanchine’s full-evening work Jewels. Set to music by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky, “Diamonds” was premiered by NYCB in 1967 and was first performed by SF Ballet as part of the evening-length Jewels in 2002. The grandeur and classicism of “Diamonds” is an homage to Imperial Russia and includes a principal couple and eight demi-soloists, plus a large corps de ballet.
Program 5 opens on Thursday, March 9 with Possokhov’s Fusion, a world premiere by Pita, and Scarlett’s Fearful Symmetries. Fusion features music by Graham Fitkin and Rahul Dev Burman; scenic, video, and projection design by Benjamin Pierce; costume design by Sandra Woodall; and lighting design by James F. Ingalls. The work for 12 dancers was originally created for the Company’s New Works Festival in 2008. Pita, a native of South Africa, studied dance in Johannesburg, and earned his master’s degree at London Contemporary Dance School. He has created a number of works including Mischief, a collaboration with Theatre Rites commissioned by Sadler’s Wells and Dance Touring Partnership; The Metamorphosis for the Linbury Studio Theatre Royal Opera House and The Joyce Theatre New York; Facada, a duet for Russian ballet stars Natalia Osipova and Ivan Vasiliev; and The Nutcracker (Party Scene) for Paris Opera Ballet. In addition, he has created a number of works for theater and opera and has won numerous awards. SF Ballet premiered Scarlett’s Fearful Symmetries, set to music by John Adams, on the 2016 Season. The name Fearful Symmetries is taken from a William Blake poem, “The Tyger,” from 1794. The work for 16 dancers, features costume design by Jon Morrell and lighting design by David Finn.
Program 6 opens Friday, March 31 with an encore presentation of Tomasson’s Swan Lake. Tomasson choreographed his first production of Swan Lake for SF Ballet in 1988 and in 2009, he created a new version, featuring scenic and costume design by Jonathan Fensom; lighting design by Jennifer Tipton; projection design by Sven Ortel; and hair, wig, and makeup design by Michael Ward. Upon its premiere, the production was called “striking” and by the San Francisco Chronicle and of the production’s choreography, the San Jose Mercury News proclaimed the work “at its core, sublime.” 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 7 opens Wednesday, April 5 with Tomasson’s Trio, a new work by SF Ballet Corps de Ballet member Myles Thatcher, and Wheeldon’s Within the Golden Hour©. Trio, set to Tchaikovsky’s Souvenir de Florence, was premiered in 2011 and features scenic design by Alexander V. Nichols, costume design by Mark Zappone, and lighting design by Christopher Dennis. The Los Angeles Times called the piece “elegant and engrossing” and most recently, it was performed on tour to New York in 2013. Thatcher trained at The Harid Conservatory and was in the SF Ballet School Trainee Program before being named a Company apprentice in 2009. A year later, he joined the Company. From 2012-2014, Thatcher choreographed a number of works including In the Passerine’s Clutch for the SF Ballet 2013 Season Opening Night Gala and Spinae, Stone and Steel and Spectrum for the SF Ballet School. His ballet, entitled Manifesto, was premiered by the Company on the 2015 Season. He has also created new works for NYCB and Joffrey Ballet, among others. In addition, Thatcher was one of seven artists who took part in the 2014–2015 Rolex Mentor & Protégé Arts Initiative, selected by his mentor, Ratmansky. Wheeldon’s Within the Golden Hour© was first performed as part of SF Ballet’s New Works Festival in 2008. Since its premiere, the work has appeared frequently in the Company’s repertory and has been performed on a number of tours. Within the Golden Hour© is comprised of seven movements, featuring music by Ezio Bosso and Antonio Vivaldi, scenic and costume design by Martin Pakledinaz, and lighting design by James F. Ingalls. The New York Times noted that “Within the Golden Hour shows from first to last that Mr. Wheeldon’s gifts of construction are…complex and skilled.”
Program 8 opens Friday, April 28 and features Wheeldon’s Cinderella, a co-production by SF Ballet and Dutch National Ballet. The work was given its world premiere by Dutch National Ballet in December 2012 and its U.S. premiere in May 2013, by SF Ballet. Set to the music of Sergei Prokofiev, Wheeldon’s interpretation includes elements of nature and Cinderella’s mother’s spirit, taken from the Brothers Grimm version. For this production, Wheeldon assembled an award-winning artistic team, with scenic and costume design by Julian Crouch, libretto by Craig Lucas, tree and carriage sequence direction/design by puppeteer Basil Twist, lighting design by Natasha Katz, and projection design by Daniel Brodie. The production was deemed “magical” by The Guardian (U.K.) and upon its U.S. debut, the San Francisco Chronicle heralded the ballet as “utterly alluring” and the New York Times called it “breathtaking.” While this is the first full-length production that Wheeldon created for SF Ballet, the Company has twelve of his works in its repertory.
During the 2017 Repertory Season, the Company will perform a total of 62 performances. Friday and Saturday evening performances are at 8pm. Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday evening performances are at 7:30pm; Saturday and Sunday matinees are at 2pm. The SF Ballet Orchestra will accompany all programs.
The 2013 San Francisco Ballet premiere of Cinderella was 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, 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.
The 2017 North American premiere of Frankenstein by San Francisco Ballet is made possible by Lead Sponsors Bently Foundation, and The Hellman Family; Costume Sponsor E. L. Wiegand Foundation; and Sponsors Ms. Laura Clifford, Stephanie and James Marver, and an anonymous donor.
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 a global conversation about ballet (twitter.com/sfballet). Experience a backstage photographic journey from the perspective of the Company members 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 about these and other education programs, visit sfballet.org.
Three, five, and eight program subscription packages to SF Ballet’s 2017 Season range in price from $75-1,463 and go on sale to the public on June 15, 2016. 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 2017 Season, starting at $25, will be available online at sfballet.org or by calling 415.865.2000, beginning November 16, 2016.
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. 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 marked the 30th anniversary of Helgi Tomasson’s tenure as artistic director of San Francisco Ballet.
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