Principal Character Dancers

Val Caniparoli

Val Caniparoli


  • Born

    Renton, Washington

  • Company Membership

    Joined in 1973
    Named Principal Character Dancer in 1985

Born in Renton, Washington, Caniparoli opted for a professional dance career after studying music and theatre at Washington State University. He received a Ford Foundation Scholarship to attend San Francisco Ballet School and performed with San Francisco Opera Ballet before joining San Francisco Ballet in 1973. Throughout his career, Caniparoli has created more than 200 works for ballet, theater, opera, symphony, film, and television. In addition to his longstanding association with SF Ballet, for whom he has created more than 20 ballets, more than 60 dance companies have presented his work, including Finnish National Ballet, BalletMet, Joffrey Ballet, Hong Kong Ballet, Smuin Ballet, Ballet West (resident choreographer 1993-97), Washington Ballet, Israel Ballet, and Tulsa Ballet (resident choreographer 2001-06). One of his most popular ballets, Lambarena, was nominated for the Prix Benois de la Danse in 1997 for Best Choreography and was also featured on Sesame Street.

The Metropolitan Opera, Chicago Lyric Opera, and San Francisco Opera have all commissioned Caniparoli to choreograph operas. His work with the San Francisco Symphony includes the Rimsky-Korsakov opera-ballet Mlada, conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas. With American Conservatory Theater (A.C.T.), he choreographed A Christmas Carol, A Doll’s House, Arcadia, A Little Night Music, and Tosca Cafe, a new movement-theatre piece with Carey Perloff. His full evening-length ballets include Lady of the Camellias, five different productions of The Nutcracker for Royal New Zealand Ballet, Cincinnati Ballet, Louisville Ballet, Grand Rapids Ballet, and Tulsa Ballet (co-created with Ma Cong), Val Caniparoli’s, A Cinderella Story.

He is a recipient of ten grants for choreography from the National Endowment for the Arts, an artist fellowship from the California Arts Council and has twice received the Choo-San Goh Award from the Choo-San Goh and H. Robert Magee Foundation for Lambarena, and Open Veins. Dance Bay Area honored Caniparoli with an Isadora Duncan Award for Sustained Achievement and twice for Outstanding Choreography. He was also honored to have been selected to choreograph a pas de deux for Evelyn Hart and Rex Harrington. This was for the Royal Jubilee Gala for Queen Elizabeth in Toronto.

Caniparoli is most closely associated with San Francisco Ballet, his artistic home for over 50 years. He first worked under the co-artistic directorship of Lew Christensen and Michael Smuin, and in the early 1980s, was appointed resident choreographer as well as Rehearsal Director under Helgi Tomasson. He continues to choreograph for the company under Artistic Director Tamara Rojo while continuing to be a Principal Character Dancer.