Providing the Opportunities
Former Principal Dancer and Current Ballet West Academy Director Evelyn Cisneros on Helgi Tomasson
Evelyn Cisneros began dancing at age eight, training with Phyllis Cyr. She received scholarships to San Francisco Ballet School and the School of American Ballet before becoming an apprentice with SF Ballet in 1976. She joined the Company in 1977. Over the next 23 years, she danced every major role from Aurora to Juliet to Cinderella. She retired in 1999 and began teaching and staging ballets at major companies across the U.S. In 2020, Cisneros became director of the Ballet West Academy.
I am honored to have been part of San Francisco Ballet for 13 years of Helgi’s tenure as artistic director. Through his direction, I was blessed by having the opportunity to dance many lead roles including Swan Lake, The Sleeping Beauty, La Sylphide, and several Balanchine ballets, as well as choreography by internationally recognized choreographers and new works. I was given opportunities to work with the finest coaches of the day, including Irina Jakobson and David Howard.
Helgi paired principal artists and I was fortunate to dance for 10 years with the sublime partner, artist, and friend Anthony Randazzo. We built trust in our artistic partnership that was rewarding beyond description. I met my life partner at SF Ballet, when Helgi brought Stephen Legate to dance with the Company; we now have two children and have just celebrated our 25th anniversary.
My life and dance career have been profoundly impacted by Helgi and his vision for the Company. He provided the means for me to become an internationally recognized ballerina, a mother, and a dance educator.
Thank you, Helgi! May your next chapter in life provide you satisfaction for all your achievements. Bravo!
Header Image: Evelyn Cisneros as Odile in Helgi Tomasson’s “Swan Lake”, circa 1990s // © Marty Sohl. Photo courtesy SFMPD.