In Memoriam


On February 4, 2017, beloved philanthropist and San Francisco Ballet Board of Trustees Chair Emerita Chris Hellman passed away. Born in London, Chris’s early love of dance was fostered through training at the Royal Academy of Dancing and later, as a professional dancer with London Festival Ballet.

Chris’s ardent support of the Company, along with her husband Warren’s, began in 1983 when she joined SF Ballet’s Board of Trustees. From 1991-1999, she held the position of board chair and upon stepping down, was named chair emerita. Among her numerous contributions to SF Ballet, Chris oversaw the successful Preserving a Jewel Campaign in the mid-nineties, which built the Ballet’s endowment up from $3 million to $33 million. In 1998, she led a successful return of the Company to the War Memorial Opera House, following a two-year absence while the Opera House was seismically retrofitted. A year later, she also received the organization’s highest honor, the Lew Christensen medal. In 2005, the Hellmans were elected Great Benefactors of SF Ballet and in 2008, Chris served as an honorary co-chair of the Ballet’s 75th Anniversary Celebration Committee. In addition to being named chair emerita, Chris was also named director emerita of SF Ballet’s Endowment Foundation Board. In 2010, the Ballet building at 455 Franklin Street was named the “Chris Hellman Center for Dance” in her honor.

Said SF Ballet Artistic Director & Principal Choreographer Helgi Tomasson, “There are no adequate words to express how much Chris Hellman has meant to SF Ballet and to me, personally. Both she and Warren were tireless champions and supporters of this organization for many years and their generosity is simply unparalleled. Because Chris was a dancer herself, we understood each other and had a very close working relationship. San Francisco Ballet would not be the world-class organization it is today, without her steadfast and unwavering support of my vision. We will miss her incredibly but her contribution to the arts in San Francisco will not be forgotten—we are forever grateful to her.”