SAN FRANCISCO, April 22, 2020—San Francisco Ballet (SF Ballet) announces 11 promotions, two new Company members, and six apprentices for the 2021 Season. Effective July 1, soloists Wona Park and Max Cauthorn are promoted to principal dancer, and corps de ballet members Ellen Rose Hummel, Diego Cruz, Lucas Erni, and Myles Thatcher are promoted to soloist. SF Ballet apprentices SunMin Lee, Tyla Steinbach, Rubén Cítores, Lleyton Ho, and Adrian Zeisel are promoted to the corps de ballet. Each of the 11 promoted dancers received training at SF Ballet School, from which previous students make up over 65 percent of SF Ballet’s Company. In addition, Nikisha Fogo, first soloist with the Vienna State Ballet, joins the Company as principal dancer in the 2021 Season. Also joining the Company’s corps de ballet is Luca Ferrò from the Princess Grace Academy. Alexis Aiudi, Olivia Brothers, Pemberley Ann Olson, Andris Kundzins, Gregory Myles, and Alexis Valdes of San Francisco Ballet School are appointed as apprentices starting in the 2021 Season.
“It is a joy to announce the Company roster for the 2021 Season. This is a Company that I am very proud of, from the dancers’ remarkable artistry to their dedication as we navigate these extraordinary times. These are some of the world’s best dancers,” says Artistic Director and Principal Choreographer Helgi Tomasson. “I am particularly pleased to bring in new principal dancer Nikisha Fogo. From the moment she first took class with our Company, I could see that that she is an exceptional talent and would be a wonderful fit for San Francisco Ballet. She has everything I look for in a principal dancer—strong and versatile technique to excel in the classical and contemporary repertory, beautiful musicality, and a profound desire to dance. I’m delighted she will be joining us in San Francisco.”
Principal Dancer Wona Park was recently hailed for her “poignant yet pristine” (San Francisco Examiner) interpretation of the Lead Butterfly in George Balanchine’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and for “fearlessly and thrillingly [nailing] the final moment” (Broadway World) in her principal role in Edwaard Liang’s The Infinite Ocean, both on stage during the 2020 Season. Park was born in Seoul, South Korea and studied at the Sunhwa Arts School before continuing her training at SF Ballet School and in the SF Ballet School Trainee Program. She joined the Company as a member of the corps de ballet in 2017 and was promoted to soloist in 2018. Recently, Park performed Victor Gsovsky’s Grand Pas Classique with principal dancer Wei Wang during the 2020 Opening Night Gala and again in the second program of the 2020 Season; and the lead winter spirit in Christopher Wheeldon’s Cinderella©. In the 2019 Season, Park danced as Kitri in Helgi Tomasson/Yuri Possokhov’s Don Quixote and Aurora in Tomasson’s The Sleeping Beauty.
Principal Dancer Max Cauthorn, a San Francisco native, trained at SF Ballet School and was an SF Ballet School Trainee before joining the Company as an apprentice in 2013, joining the corps de ballet the following year, and becoming a soloist in 2017. Most recently, Cauthorn performed as Oberon in the Student Matinee performance of Balanchine’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Earlier in the season, Cauthorn danced “so blissed out, his light shone brighter than anyone else onstage” (Bay Area Reporter) during Mark Morris’ Sandpaper Ballet. Cauthorn also danced a principal role in Liang’s The Infinite Ocean (described as “quicksilver” by San Francisco Chronicle) and as one of four Fates in Wheeldon’s Cinderella©, which opened the season. During the 2020 Opening Night Gala, Cauthorn “cantered springily and competitively” (San Francisco Chronicle) alongside principal dancer Esteban Hernandez in August Bournonville’s The Jockey Dance.
Soloist Ellen Rose Hummel was born in Greenville, South Carolina and studied at North Carolina Dance Theatre before completing her training at SF Ballet School and in the SF Ballet School Trainee Program. Hummel was named an apprentice in 2011 and joined the Company as a member of the corps de ballet in 2012. In the 2020 Season, Hummel danced as Clementine, one of the stepsisters, in Wheeldon’s Cinderella©. She also rehearsed the role of Hermia in Balanchine’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream and performed in Harald Lander’s Etudes, Morris’ Sandpaper Ballet, and Stanton Welch’s Bespoke. In addition, Hummel danced “with verve and style” (San Francisco Chronicle) as the Fairy of Courage in Tomasson’s The Sleeping Beauty in 2019.
A native of Zaragoza, Spain, Soloist Diego Cruz joined the Company as a member of the corps de ballet in 2006. In the 2020 Season, Cruz rehearsed the role of Puck in Balanchine’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and performed roles in Lander’s Etudes, Morris’ Sandpaper Ballet, Tomasson’s Concerto Grosso, and Welch’s Bespoke. Additional highlights from his nearly 15-year career with SF Ballet include originating roles in William Forsythe’s Pas/Parts 2016, Justin Peck’s Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming, Arthur Pita’s Björk Ballet, Possokhov’s “. . .two united in a single soul. . .”, Myles Thatcher’s Ghost in the Machine, and Tomasson’s Caprice.
Soloist Lucas Erni, born in Santo Tomé, Argentina, trained at SF Ballet School and performed with The Sarasota Ballet and National Ballet of Uruguay before joining SF Ballet as a member of the corps de ballet in 2018. In the 2020 Season, Erni performed the role of Bottom and rehearsed the role of Puck in Balanchine’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, in addition to performing in Lander’s Etudes, Liang’s The Infinite Ocean, Morris’ Sandpaper Ballet, Tomasson’s Concerto Grosso, and Wheeldon’s Cinderella©. Highlights from the 2019 Season include roles as Bluebird, Puss in Boots, and in the polonaise in Tomasson’s The Sleeping Beauty. Lucas also performed as Mercutio in Tomasson’s Romeo & Juliet on tour with the Company in Copenhagen in the fall of 2019.
Soloist Myles Thatcher, a native of Atlanta, Georgia, studied at The Harid Conservatory and Ellison Ballet before joining SF Ballet School and the SF Ballet School Trainee Program. He was named an apprentice in 2009 and joined the Company as a member of the corps de ballet in 2010. Most recently, Thatcher performed the role of Lysander in Balanchine’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream and danced in a pas de trois in The Infinite Ocean, where he “conveyed an enthusiastic energy” (Dance Tabs). In the 2020 Season, Thatcher also originated a role in Trey McIntyre’s The Big Hunger, danced as Benjamin and a Fate in Wheeldon’s Cinderella©, and performed in Lander’s Etudes and Morris’ Sandpaper Ballet.
Five apprentices will join the Company as corps de ballet members. Native to Seoul, South Korea, SunMin Lee joined SF Ballet School and, later, the SF Ballet School Trainee Program after placing as one of 20 finalists in the 2017 Prix de Lausanne. Lee was named an apprentice in 2019. During the 2020 Season, Lee danced as a Courtier in Wheeldon’s Cinderella© and as a Butterfly during the Student Matinee performance of Balanchine’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Tyla Steinbach was born in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe and studied at Tanya Pearson Academy. Steinbach was one of ten Australians selected to compete in the 2017 Prix de Lausanne, after which she joined SF Ballet School and the SF Ballet School Trainee Program. She became an apprentice in 2019. Highlights of her 2020 Season roles include French (mirliton) in Tomasson’s Nutcracker and Courtier in Wheeldon’s Cinderella©. Rubén Cítores became an apprentice in 2019 after training at AMPA Escuela Profesional Danza CyL Vallodi, SF Ballet School, and as an SF Ballet School Trainee. Born in Valladolid, Spain, Cítores’ roles from the 2020 Season include the Mouse King in Tomasson’s Nutcracker, Spanish Cavalier and Courtier in Wheeldon’s Cinderella©, and corps de ballet in Lander’s Etudes. Lleyton Ho was born in Scarsdale, New York, and trained at the School of American Ballet and the SF Ballet School Trainee Program before being named an apprentice in 2019. Highlights of Ho’s roles in the 2020 Season include Chinese in Tomasson’s Nutcracker, Courtier in Wheeldon’s Cinderella©, and corps de ballet in Lander’s Etudes. Adrian Zeisel hails from Vienna, Austria, and studied at SF Ballet School and as an SF Ballet School Trainee before his appointment as an apprentice in 2019. Highlights of Zeisel’s 2020 Season roles include Arabian in Tomasson’s Nutcracker, Courtier and Russian Priest in Wheeldon’s Cinderella©, and the corps de ballet in Lander’s Etudes.
New Company Members
Nikisha Fogo joins SF Ballet as a principal dancer. A native of Stockholm, Sweden, Fogo trained at the Kungliga Svenska Balettskolan and the Royal Ballet School in London. In 2013 she joined the Vienna State Ballet, where she was promoted to demi-soloist in 2015, soloist in 2016, and first soloist in 2018. Fogo’s diverse repertory includes principal roles in full-length ballets such as Legris’ Sylvia, Lacotte’s Coppélia, and Nureyev’s Don Quixote, among others, as well as neoclassical and contemporary works such as Balanchine’s Stars and Stripes, Neumeier’s Le Sacre, Forsythe’s The Second Detail, and Wayne McGregor’s EDEN | EDEN. Her awards include first prize at the Stora Daldansen competition in Falun, Sweden, and the Grasse Ballet Competition in France.
Luca Ferrò joins SF Ballet’s corps de ballet. Ferro studied at the Princess Grace Academy in Monaco following studies at Arte Danza in Novara, Italy.
For press images of Nikisha Fogo and Luca Ferrò and the promoted dancers, please visit the online press photos page.
Six SF Ballet School Trainees have been named apprentices for the 2021 Season: Alexis Aiudi, Olivia Brothers, Pemberley Ann Olson, Andris Kundzins, Gregory Myles, and Alexis Valdes. As apprentices, dancers will take Company class and perform corps de ballet roles in SF Ballet productions.
Please contact Kate McKinney, PR & Communications Manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
Ellen Rose Hummel/Soloist
SunMin Lee/Corps de Ballet
Tyla Steinbach/Corps de Ballet
Rubén Cítores/Corps de Ballet
Lleyton Ho/Corps de Ballet
Adrian Zeisel/Corps de Ballet
New Company Members/Level
Luca Ferrò/Corps de Ballet
Alexis Aiudi/San Francisco Ballet School
Olivia Brothers/San Francisco Ballet School
Pemberley Ann Olson/San Francisco Ballet School
Andris Kundzins/San Francisco Ballet School
Gregory Myles/San Francisco Ballet School
Alexis Valdes/San Francisco Ballet School
SAN FRANCISCO BALLET 2021 REPERTORY SEASON
ARTISTS OF THE COMPANY
ARTISTIC DIRECTOR & PRINCIPAL CHOREOGRAPHER
Sasha De Sola
Yuan Yuan Tan
Sarah Van Patten
PRINCIPAL CHARACTER DANCERS
Ellen Rose Hummel
Elizabeth PowellJulia Rowe
CORPS DE BALLET
Megan Amanda Ehrlich
Kimberly Marie Olivier
Joshua Jack PriceLeili Rackow
Pemberley Ann Olson
BALLET MASTERS & ASSISTANTS TO THE ARTISTIC DIRECTOR
CHOREOGRAPHER IN RESIDENCE
MUSIC DIRECTOR AND PRINCIPAL CONDUCTOR