America’s First Snow Queen Turns 90

In November 2015, America’s first Snow Queen, Jocelyn Vollmar, turned 90 years old. SF Ballet celebrated her birthday and recognized her devotion to the art form with a performance by our School Trainees, followed by a post-performance celebration that included Company dancers, former students, and numerous colleagues. Artistic Director and Principal Choreographer Helgi Tomasson toasted Jocelyn and presented her with a signed photo from the Company. Executive Director Glenn McCoy presented an official proclamation naming her birthday “Jocelyn Vollmar Day” from the San Francisco mayor’s office.

Jocelyn Vollmar and Roderick Drew in Lew Christensen's Nutcracker. Photographer unknown.

As a child, Vollmar trained at SF Ballet School under the direction of Willam Christensen. She elaborated, “We had very good training from the three Christensens. I had a tremendous passion for dance…”* At age 17, she graduated from Lowell High School and joined the Company when it was just five years old. In 1944, at age 19, she was cast as the Snow Queen in America’s first Nutcracker, choreographed by Willam Christensen. She remembers, “Back then we didn’t know we were making history, but we were…So many people think that ballet started in New York, but it didn’t. It started here in 1933.”*

On the invitation of George Balanchine, she joined New York City Ballet for its inaugural season in 1948 and went on to dance one season with Ballet Theatre, known today as American Ballet Theatre. After a stint in Europe, she returned home to SF Ballet where she danced until 1972. Touring the world, Jocelyn danced with the Company throughout Asia, India, the Middle East, Central America, and South America. She danced principal roles in Christensen’s Beauty and the Beast, Swan Lake, and Nutcracker, among numerous other ballets.

Upon her retirement from the stage, Jocelyn began teaching throughout the Bay Area, and was a member of the our School faculty until 2005. “I’ve seen all the phases that we went through, and I feel so fortunate. Dance has been my life, and SF Ballet gave me dance, so SF Ballet gave me my life,”* she says. “I’m so grateful that I could have been here in the right place at the right time.”

* Original citation from San Francisco Chronicle article on March 9, 2008

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