A panel discussion, The Life and Work of Rudolf Nureyev, will be held October 6 at 10am at the de Young Museum, Golden Gate Park, 50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive, San Francisco.
The program features artists from the theater and dance worlds reflecting on their personal memories of working with Rudolf Nureyev and discussing the artist’s lasting impact on the world of dance.
Participants include: Glenn McCoy, executive director, San Francisco Ballet; Patrick Armand, associate director, San Francisco Ballet School; Martin Kamer, costume designer; Helgi Tomasson, artistic director, San Francisco Ballet; and Maina Gielgud, freelance ballet director, stager, principal coach, and teacher (previously artistic director of the Australian Ballet and the Royal Danish Ballet)
Tickets are $35 for FAMSF members or $55 general audiences. To purchase tickets online, visit https://tickets.famsf.org/public/auto_choose_ga.asp?area=8.
The San Francisco Ballet School 2012 student showcase will feature classic ballets such as George Balanchine’s Western Symphony and an excerpt from Act II of August Bournonville’s La Sylphide, along with new works and class demonstrations.
Showcase performances will be held May 30 at 7:30pm, May 31 at 6pm, and June 1 at 7:30pm at the Novellus Theater at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, 701 Mission Street, San Francisco.
Through the showcases, audiences will get a glimpse of the progression in ballet training, from beginning students giving class demonstrations to performances by advanced-level students. Along with Western Symphony and the La Sylphide excerpt, the program will include Spinae, a work by SF Ballet corps de ballet member Myles Thatcher, and Dunas, a new work by SF Ballet corps de ballet member Francisco Mungamba. Both Thatcher and Mungamba trained at the SF Ballet School.
The May 30 and June 1 performances will feature class demonstrations and select repertoire. There will be no class demonstrations during the May 31 performance. Performance tickets start at $35 and can be purchased by contacting the Ticket Services Office at 415.865.2000.
The San Francisco Ballet Auxiliary will host a fundraising dinner following the May 31 performance at The St. Regis San Francisco. The dinner benefits the school’s scholarship and financial aid programs and will honor SF Ballet School associate director Lola de Avila, who will be stepping down in late August to oversee the full-time operation of the Maria de Avila Ballet School in her native Spain and pursue other interests.
Tickets for the dinner are $250 to $1,000, and can be purchased by visiting www.sfballet.org/studentshowcase. Admission to the performance is included in the dinner ticket. For additional information, contact the SF Ballet Events Department at 415.865.6625.
Got news? Email Karen@rheegold.com and include your name, email and phone. We like accompanying photos too with photographer’s credit and photo description.
San Francisco Ballet, the oldest professional ballet company in America, will present the U.S. premiere of Christopher Wheeldon’s full-length Cinderella during next year’s 80th repertory season.
SF Ballet’s 2013 repertory season will include Cinderella in May; the Northern California premiere in February of Nijinsky by Hamburg Ballet artistic director and chief choreographer John Neumeier and performed by the renowned Hamburg Ballet; and the SF Ballet premiere of Serge Lifar’s Suite en Blanc in January.
Also on tap are world premieres by Wayne McGregor, SF Ballet choreographer in residence Yuri Possokhov, and Alexei Ratmansky, as well as works by George Balanchine, John Cranko, Edwaard Liang, Mark Morris, Rudolf Nureyev, Ashley Page, Jerome Robbins, and San Francisco Ballet artistic director and principal choreographer Helgi Tomasson.
The opening night gala on January 24, 2013, will follow 31 Nutcracker performances this December. The 2013 repertory season will consist of eight programs performed in alternating repertory from January 29 to May 12.
Three-, five-, and eight-program subscription packages range in price from $67 to $775 (box seat prices available upon request) and go on sale to the public June 4 (2012 season subscribers can renew now). For information, call ticket services at 415.865.2000 or visit www.sfballet.org. Individual tickets starting at $20 will be available at www.sfballet.org beginning November 14, or by calling 415.865.2000 beginning January 2, 2013.
Got news? Email Karen@rheegold.com and include your name, email and phone. We like accompanying photos too with photographer’s credit and photo description.
San Francisco Ballet’s filmed production of John Neumeier’s The Little Mermaid has received a nomination for the Best in Arts Documentary and Performing Arts award from the Rose d’Or Global Entertainment Television Festival.
Entertainment programs from around the world are submitted to the competition, and an international jury of industry professionals is given the task of selecting a shortlist of nominees for final consideration. The winners will be announced at the Rose d’Or Awards Ceremony on May 10.
For more information, visit www.rosedor.ch/en/festival/about/.
The San Francisco Ballet will be leaving its home by the bay this fall for engagements in London and Washington, D.C.
From September 14 to 23, the company will mark its first London engagement since 2004, offering three mixed-repertory programs (details to be announced) over nine performances at Sadler’s Wells Theatre.
Performances at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington from November 13 to 18 will feature Helgi Tomasson’s Romeo & Juliet and one mixed-repertory program (programming to be announced). The company’s last engagement in Washington was part of its 75th American Anniversary Tour in 2008.
For more information, visit www.sfballet.org.
Choreographer Christopher Wheeldon is creating a new ballet version of the most popular fairy tale in the world, Cinderella, co-produced by San Francisco Ballet and the Dutch National Ballet.
The Cinderellaworld premiere will be performed by the Dutch National Ballet on December 13 at The Amsterdam Music Theatre, while San Francisco Ballet will present the U.S. premiere of the work during its 2013 repertory season at the War Memorial Opera House.
Wheeldon’s interpretation, set to the music of Sergei Prokofiev, is based on the story by the Brothers Grimm. In this version, Cinderella plants a hazel branch on her mother’s grave, and it grows into an enormous magical tree. Along with four spirits, the tree grants all of Cinderella’s wishes. Wheeldon gives depth to the story’s characters by portraying Cinderella as more than a victim; the prince plays a bigger role than in other productions.
The sets and costumes are by the British designer Julian Crouch, renowned for his designs for Philip Glass’s Satyagraha for the Metropolitan Opera in New York and the Broadway musical The Addams Family, among other works. Cinderella is his first ballet production.
More information about San Francisco Ballet performances can be found at www.sfballet.org.
San Francisco Ballet dancers Clara Blanco and Dores Andre were promoted to the rank of soloist following debut performances last month as Olga in John Cranko’s Onegin. The promotions were made by artistic director Helgi Tomasson effective January 30.
Born in Valladolid, Spain, Blanco trained at Estudio de Beatriz Martin, Estudio de Danza de Maria Avila, and San Francisco Ballet School. She joined the company in 2001, performed with Birmingham Royal Ballet for one year in 2006, and returned to SF Ballet in 2007. Blanco’s repertory includes featured roles in Tomasson’s Swan Lake, Giselle, and Nutcracker; the Tomasson/Yuri Possokhov Don Quixote; Balanchine’s “Emeralds” and Symphony in C; Val Caniparoli’s Ibsen’s House; Fokine’s Petrouchka; Makarova’s Paquita; Possokhov’s Classical Symphony and Fusion; Stanton Welch’s Naked; and Christopher Wheeldon’s Number Nine and Rush.
Born in Vigo, Spain, Andre trained with Antonio Almenara and at Estudio de Danza de Maria Avila. She joined the company in 2004. Her repertory includes featured roles in Tomasson’s Swan Lake, Giselle, and The Sleeping Beauty; Balanchine’s “Emeralds”; Jorma Elo’s Double Evil; Fokine’s Petrouchka; Possokhov’s Classical Symphony; Robbins’ West Side Story Suite; and Wheeldon’s Carousel (A Dance), Continuum, and Ghosts.
To see the performance schedule for the remainder of the season, visit www.sfballet.org.
Balancing tendu and plié with popping and locking
By Quinn Wharton
Dance, for me, has always been about having fun. I dance with San Francisco Ballet, but I didn’t start with ballet. I began with hip-hop when I was very young, at Ewajo, a small dance studio in Seattle. At 6, I wasn’t learning a whole lot of technique and discipline; instead I was learning how to have fun dancing. The class blended many styles (mostly hip-hop, jazz, and swing) to create upbeat, exciting movement. I loved the music, the freedom in the swinging, and the flow of the movement.
The contrast when I started ballet two years later was shocking. To go to strict, upright movements that were so stylized and precise was completely foreign to me, the antithesis of what I had fun doing. I stuck with it for many reasons—scholarships, access to boarding schools, and because I got to leave my public school three times a week and go downtown to take ballet in a big, beautiful building—but I wasn’t having fun early on. It was only after many years of dedication that I began to appreciate ballet’s joys and freedoms, buried deep within the structure. It’s as though you need the two styles to introduce movement to people.
As fun as it was, hip-hop would have been a less fulfilling career choice for me. Ballet has the depth and challenge that keep me working and overcoming hurdles to improve. I needed both to fulfill my need to dance and make the most of my talent. Without hip-hop I would have never done ballet, and without ballet I would never have gotten as far as I have. Hip-hop was the joy that got me to love dance, and ballet taught me how to maximize that movement, to finesse it.
Hip-hop has done more for my career than any form of dance other than ballet. I studied most everything when I was younger, albeit briefly—jazz, swing, salsa, modern in many forms, tap. All of them have things to contribute to a dancer’s development, but as a full package, hip-hop offers more. It teaches you improvisation, complicated rhythms and syncopations, and freedom both within boundaries and without. Ballet is all about control, while hip-hop wants you to dance on the very edge of your movement and find your individuality in each step. You almost never conform to the exact style of the teacher, and most teachers couldn’t describe their exact movement if they wanted to. The steps are guidelines for you to move within.
Hip-hop’s encouragement of individuality in movement stems from teachers asking you to do “your own thing” for eight counts before heading back into the choreography, and from participating in battle circles after classes and in clubs. The idea is to set yourself apart as an individual and develop your own unique flavor. Through improvisation (a skill never taught in ballet), hip-hop nurtures individual style. Spending hours making up moves helps dancers discover how their bodies work. Most choreographers today want the dancers to contribute to the pieces they are making. I have choreographed entire phrases that have then become morphed into the work.
I’ve learned that finding my own voice is the most important way to distinguish myself from the masses, even in the corps of a classical ballet company. That voice is also a huge piece of knowledge that can help ballet dancers flesh out how they move. As dancers, we are always learning and absorbing so that we can create a style that is all our own. This can exist within another style, but be individual in its aesthetic on each person.
The importance of individuality is a huge lesson for ballet dancers to learn, one that becomes more and more important in the contemporary dance climate. Developing an entirely new vocabulary, as most choreographers now are doing, takes a lot of creativity and innovation. Today’s choreographers are curators and assemblers almost as much as they are dancemakers, and I’ve found that my ability to improvise has set me apart over and over again in the studio.
At SFB, I’ve encountered works by Jirí Kylián, William Forsythe, Wayne McGregor, and Nacho Duato, all of whom pull from urban movement that is akin to hip-hop. As the pieces move into large ballet companies’ repertories, the need for multifaceted dancers rises. Learning Forsythe was a huge leap for me. It is ballet, but ballet pulled so far off its base that at times it doesn’t even resemble the classical line. I struggled with the process for a long time until I realized that my hip-hop training filled in the gaps in my knowledge.
Through improvisation (a skill never taught in ballet), hip-hop nurtures individual style. Spending hours making up moves helps dancers discover how their bodies work. Most choreographers today want the dancers to contribute to the pieces they are making.
Applying the earthiness that comes from hip-hop to the movements, I changed my dynamic. Take the long lunges and extended legs of ballet and pull them down into the earth, and the movement becomes Forsythe. The popping I learned in hip-hop became the basis for the fast-twitch movement necessary for in the middle, somewhat elevated or Artifact Suite. Krumping teaches you how to throw your limbs to extreme angles without holding tension in your joints, particularly the hips. The repertory of hip-hop is the antithesis of ballet, and in that way it is the perfect partner. Learning both extremes makes dancers capable of doing anything, from the highest, most elegant ballet step to the lowest, most grounded break-dancing move.
I recently saw a work by Flemish-Moroccan choreographer Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, performed by the Dutch National Ballet, a largely classical company with a strong traditional repertory. This piece was a completely different beast. It involved more floor work than movement on the feet—rolling and sliding and gliding. It was performed in socks, cargo pants, and hoodies—not your typical ballet garb. It was completely different from any classical work, and yet the dancers excelled. I noticed that prominent parts went to people who might have not been so classically trained but had other movement qualities that suited the ballet. They didn’t have perfect feet or legs or much turnout, but none of that mattered. Once they began moving and rolling, they became gorgeous, fluid creatures. Their individuality gave them a huge edge in the current climate of ballet, allowing them to do principal parts they might not have gotten before. As companies keep promoting more avant-garde and varied choreographers, they need dancers who can push the boundaries of their abilities.
Aside from creating individuality and pushing boundaries, hip-hop is fun. It’s easy to forget how much fun movement is in a highly competitive ballet world—and how much you need fun dance in your life. A hip-hop class, with its energy and enthusiasm, has a very different feel than a ballet class, with its serious demeanor. Even if I drag my feet on the way to a hip-hop class, I am always so happy I went. The sense of community and support fostered by the group and the happiness of doing something technical and cool makes everyone feel great. You’re also encouraged to be louder, dance bigger, to step outside of yourself and act out. Hip-hop can become an outlet for feelings and energy that otherwise might get bottled up and explode somewhere else. Who doesn’t like to act silly and ridiculous?
I take class with a youth and young adult hip-hop collective in San Francisco called Funkanometry when I have free time. They rehearse twice a week from 9pm to midnight, hours that seem unreasonable to me. I asked the director how he gets 40 kids, ages 15 to 22, to show up for every rehearsal every week and put so much energy into it. They make no money from it, and they all work or go to school. Yet they set apart these hours each week to come in and exhaust themselves for the group. The director looked at me as though I had asked a very strange question and said they were all there because they wanted to be. That sort of enthusiasm is hard to find in young people (about anything), but these kids are willing to do it for their community.
Hip-hop’s popularity will inevitably cause it to be melded with ballet. Arts need reinvention to draw in new crowds and to progress in their own exploration. Hip-hop has all the energy needed to reinvigorate ballet, as well as an audience that is young and enthusiastic. The ability of So You Think You Can Dance to run tours around the country and sell out arenas is a testament to popular commercial dance. So the challenge for future choreographers is to find a way to create a middle ground that engages people in their 20s to their 50s and speaks of art and energy and enthusiasm.
Melding these styles breathes new life into the art form. Wayne McGregor is already doing this with his work on The Royal Ballet and other major companies. He puts classical ballet dancers on pointe and has them do movement that in no way relates to ballet. It may look a little like ballet, but that’s mostly because ballet dancers are doing it. Because of our training, we infuse his ideas with line and classical forms. McGregor hasn’t embraced a hip-hop sensibility per se, but the idea of contemporary culture is all over his work, which allows younger audiences to relate to it.
I have always felt that hip-hop is the perfect accompaniment to ballet. It is the one style that ballet dancers can’t just pick up; and for hip-hop dancers, taking ballet would add so much grace and finesse to their art. Having a strong base in both allows a dancer to move over any terrain in the dance world with ease. It allows young dancers just entering the professional world to quickly understand the new styles and movements thrown at them. It can reveal talent in a dancer who might not have the strongest classical technique. And if nothing else, hip-hop is a great community builder because the joy that comes from a class ties people together.
Hip-hop will always be a large part of my life. It’s where I began and I continue to cultivate it in myself. I look forward to the day when it has the same legitimacy as ballet does.
The San Francisco Ballet—the first professional ballet company in America and the first in the country to perform The Nutcracker—has created an online “scrapbook” filled with vintage photographs and dancers’ fond memories of famous city spots that figure prominently in the ballet’s production.
Nutcracker Guide to Our City takes a virtual tour of five historic locations: Alamo Square, the inspiration for the ballet’s opening street scene; the Conservatory of Flowers, which flavors Act 2’s “Waltz of the Flowers”; Chinatown; the Palace of Fine Arts, and the War Memorial Opera House, where SFB premiered the now-classic holiday production in 1944.
SFB dancers’ personal reminiscences are interspersed with clips from the production. Local historians and architecture experts also weigh in with interesting facts, and vintage photographs show San Francisco as it appeared in the early 1900s—the time period in which the current production is set.
SF Ballet social media fans can also uncover special discounts and deals for some of the locations featured in the magazine, as well as the chance to win free tickets to SF Ballet’s Nutcracker.
SFB will perform artistic director and principal choreographer Helgi Tomasson’s Nutcracker at the War Memorial Opera House, December 9 to 27. For more information, visit www.sfballet.org/nutcracker. Nutcracker Guide to Our City can be accessed online by visiting www.sfballet.org/cityguide.
San Francisco Ballet School, the official school of San Francisco Ballet, will be visiting London, Madrid, Marseille, and Florence during its first-ever International Audition Tour for its summer intensive programs.
The European auditions—beginning December 11 at the Central School of Ballet, London—will be held for advanced and pre-professional students only.
The 2012 National Audition Tour, running January 7 to February 12, is scheduled to visit 11 U.S. cities: Boca Raton, FL; Boston; Chicago; Dallas/Fort Worth; Irvine, CA; New York; San Francisco; Santa Monica, CA; Seattle; Washington, D.C.; and Winston-Salem, NC.
Nearly 1,500 intermediate and advanced-level students are expected to audition on the tour, vying for about 125 positions for each of the school’s Summer Session programs: Program 1, a three-week program for intermediate students, June 11 to 29; and Program 2, a four-week program designed for advanced and pre-professional students, July 9 to August 3.
The summer sessions will include intensive classes in classical ballet technique, pointe work, batterie, dance history, repertoire, character, and Pilates. Students must attend a summer session in order to be considered for admittance to the school’s regular school year program.
For audition details, visit http://www.sfballet.org/school/summer_session/auditions.
A group of San Francisco Ballet dancers has been invited by John Neumeier to participate in the Hamburg Ballet Festival next summer for two performances, June 26 and 27, 2012.
A few company artists have also been invited to perform in the prestigious Nijinsky Gala XXXVIII on July 1, 2012. For more information, visit www.hamburgballett.de.
In other San Francisco Ballet news, Mary Beth Smith has been hired as director of marketing and communications, effective August 8. Smith will oversee all activities related to marketing, sales, and communication strategies. She has more than 15 years of experience in arts marketing and communications, most recently as acting director of marketing at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.
Smith began her career as associate director of marketing for American Conservatory Theater, a position she held from 1993 to 1997. From 1997 to 2000, she served as director of marketing and sales for TheatreWorks in Palo Alto, before joining Yerba Buena Center for the Arts as director of marketing and communications, a position she held from 2000 to 2008. Smith has also served as a marketing consultant for a number of San Francisco Bay Area institutions, including the Peninsula Community Foundation, Sonoma Repertory Theater, and the Midsummer Mozart Festival.
San Francisco Ballet has announced the addition of soloist Victoria Ananyan, a graduate of Perm State Theater Ballet School in Russia, for its 2011-12 repertory season.
Ananyan began her professional career in 2003 with the Perm Tchaikovsky Ballet and Orchestra, where she quickly rose to the position of soloist. In 2007, she joined the corps de ballet at the Dutch National Ballet, where she was promoted to second soloist in 2010. She has performed such roles as Swanhilde in Coppélia, Nikiya in La Bayadère, Aurora in The Sleeping Beauty, Queen of Dryads in Don Quixote, Clara in The Nutcracker, and the title roles in Giselle and Cinderella. In July 2010, she was a featured dancer in Today’s Stars of the Russian Ballet, a collaborative showcase among the Bolshoi Ballet, Maryinsky Ballet, Ukrainian National Ballet, and Ballet Manila, featuring the world’s leading Russian ballet dancers.
In other San Francisco Ballet news, soloist Garen Scribner, along with five other students from Saint Mary’s LEAP program (Liberal Education for Arts Professionals), was selected to travel to South Africa to work with young dancers in the township of Gugulethu. In partnership with the Dance For All organization, the LEAP students designed and produced an on-site dance intensive that included movement classes as well as repertory and choreographic workshops.
Also, John Neumeier, artistic director and chief choreographer of The Hamburg Ballet, invited San Francisco Ballet principal dancer Yuan Yuan Tan to perform at his prestigious Nijinsky Gala, held July 10 at the Hamburg State Opera. For more information on the San Francisco Ballet, visit www.sfballet.org.
San Francisco Ballet has announced four promotions, as well as the addition of six new apprentices and two new company members, for the 2012 repertory season.
Soloist Vito Mazzeo has been promoted to principal dancer effective July 1. Born in Vibo Valentia, Italy, Mazzeo began his training at La Scala Ballet School in Milan. In 2005, he joined the Royal Ballet where he danced for several years prior to joining Rome Opera Ballet in 2008. In 2010, Mazzeo received the Premio Positano Leonide Massine Award for Best Italian Dancer as well as the Danza & Danza Award for Best Dancer of the Year.
In addition, Patricia Keleher, Raymond Tilton, and Caroline Diane Wilson, apprentices during the 2011 repertory season, will join the ranks of the corps de ballet effective July 1, along with former San Francisco Ballet School trainees Francisco Mungamba and Wan Ting Zhao.
Six new apprentices have been named for the 2012 season: Sean Bennett, Megan Amanda Ehrlich, Ellen Rose Hummel, Elizabeth Powell, Henry Sidford, and Shion Yuasa. As apprentices, these dancers will take company class and perform corps de ballet roles in the company’s repertory. Notably, five of the newly appointed apprentices were members of the SF Ballet School’s Trainee Program. (Ehrlich trained with the Kirov Academy of Ballet.)
Subscriptions are on sale for the 2012 repertory season, January 27 through May 5, at the War Memorial Opera House. For information, call the Ticket Services Office at 415.865.2000, or visit www.sfballet.org.
The San Francisco Ballet will perform at the 74th Stern Grove Festival on July 31 at 2pm.
Company artists will present a selection of dances from the current repertoire. Other performers in the free festival include Aaron Neville on August 7, the San Francisco Opera on August 21, the English Beat on July 17, and the San Francisco Symphony on July 24.
Stern Grove is located at 19th Avenue and Sloat Boulevard, San Francisco. For more information, visit www.sterngrove.org/july-31-2011.html.
San Francisco Ballet will record John Neumeier’s The Little Mermaid for later television broadcast during two performances at the San Francisco War Memorial Opera House May 3 and 5.
The performances will be captured in high definition using eight cameras, and footage will be edited into a program that will be televised as part of the PBS program Great Performances: Dance in America and in European and Asian markets this fall. The broadcast, directed by Thomas Grimm, will also be distributed worldwide on Blu-ray and DVD by C Major Entertainment.
The two-act ballet, first performed in the States by San Francisco Ballet in 2010, features choreography and scenic, costume, and lighting design by Neumeier, Hamburg Ballet’s artistic director and chief choreographer, with a score by Lera Auerbach. The Little Mermaid runs from April 30 to May 8. Visit www.sfballet.org for tickets.
Festival Ballet Theatre of Fountain Valley, California will present its Gala of the Stars on May 6 at 7:00 p.m. at the Irvine Barclay Theatre.
The Gala of the Stars, an invitational dance festival held in association with Youth America Grand Prix, features young dancers as well as up-and-coming and established artists. YAGP will be bringing award-winning dancers from its competitions.
Guest artists for the gala include Daniil Simkin, American Ballet Theatre soloist, and San Francisco Ballet principals Lorena Feijoo and Vitor Luiz. Tickets are $40 general admission and $25 for children and seniors. VIP tickets are available at $100 for adults and $80 for students and include premium seating, a dinner buffet, and a reception with performers.
For tickets and information, call Festival Ballet Theatre at 714.962.5440 or visit www.festivalballet.org.
The Oral History Program at the Museum of Performance & Design in San Francisco has prepared a limited-edition oral history of Jocelyn Vollmar, a former prima ballerina with San Francisco Ballet.
Jocelyn Vollmar: Dance With Daybreak, a hardbound book with 200 pages of text and 40 color photographs, was produced under a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. Its production was supervised by Basya Petnick, the museum’s legacy oral history manager.
The ballerina was born in 1925 in San Francisco. She danced small roles in San Francisco Ballet’s 1939 premiere of Coppélia and first full-length performance of Swan Lake in the United States in 1940. She went on to portray the Snow Queen in The Nutcracker in 1944 in its first full American production.
Vollmar joined New York City Ballet as a principal dancer in 1948 and also danced with American Ballet Theatre. She returned to San Francisco Ballet in 1956 and danced with the company until 1972. She taught at the San Francisco Ballet School from 1985 to 2005.
Those making a charitable donation of $300 or more to underwrite the book’s publication costs can pre-order a copy. Each donor will be listed and thanked on the book’s acknowledgment page and will receive a copy signed by Vollmar.
Oregon Ballet Theatre’s 21st season will open Oct. 9 with the world premiere of Artistic Director Christopher Stowell’s full-length The Sleeping Beauty. The Tchaikovsky classic is the first full-length work to enter the OBT repertoire since the premiere of Stowell’s Swan Lake in 2006.
At select performances, guest artist Rubén Martín Cintas, a principal dancer with San Francisco Ballet, will dance the lead role of Prince Florimund, and will partner OBT principal dancer Kathi Martuza. Also scheduled to perform the roles of Princess Aurora and Prince Florimund are OBT principal dancers Yuka Iino and Chauncey Parsons, and principal dancer Alison Roper and soloist Brett Bauer.
The Sleeping Beauty will run until Oct. 16. A shortened, one-hour children’s matinee on Oct. 16 is available for a special, reduced ticket price. Performances will take place at Keller Auditorium, at SW Third and Clay, Portland, Oregon.
Miami City Ballet been selected to make its debut at the 2010 Fall for Dance Festival at New York’s City Center on September 28 and 29, when it will perform Twyla Tharp’s The Golden Section.
The Golden Section (1983), a ballet for 13 dancers with music by David Byrne, had its Miami City Ballet premiere in the 2009-10 season.
The festival, from running September 28 to October 9, will showcase 20 dance companies and choreographers from across the United States and around the world, including American Ballet Theatre, New York City Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company, and Paul Taylor Dance Company. Miami City Ballet is one of 10 dance companies making their debut in the festival.
All tickets are $10 and go on sale at 11 a.m. September 12 at www.NYCityCenter.org or by calling CityTix at 212.581.1212.
For more information about Miami City Ballet, visit www.miamicityballet.org.
Patrick Armand will join the staff of the San Francisco Ballet School in September as the trainee program principal. He will teach the trainees in daily classes, stage and rehearse repertory, and oversee trainee performances. He will also teach in the school at various levels.
Born in Marseille, France, Armand won the Prix de Lausanne in 1980. He joined Ballet Theatre Français in 1981 and was promoted to principal dancer in 1983. In 1984 he was invited to join the London Festival Ballet (now English National Ballet), and in 1990 he joined Boston Ballet.
Armand served as a jury member of the Prix de Lausanne in 1998 and 2009 and returned as a teacher and coach for the 2010 competition. In 2006 he was appointed teacher and ballet master of the Teatro alla Scala in Milan.
San Francisco Ballet has announced the addition of 12 new dancers for the 2011 season.
Artem Yachmennikov will join the company as a principal dancer and Vito Mazzeo will join as a soloist. Yachmennikov trained at the Vaganova Academy and joined the Bolshoi Ballet in 2008 as a first soloist. In 2009, he won the Silver Medal at the Korea International Competition. Mazzeo received his early training at La Scala Ballet School. From 2005 to 2008 he performed with The Royal Ballet, and in 2008 he joined Teatro dell’Opera.
Joining the corps de ballet are Daniel Baker, Nicole Ciapponi, Koto Ishihara, Elena Kazakova, Dustin Shane, Sebastian Vinet, and Lonnie Weeks. In addition, Kimberly Braylock, Myles Thatcher, and Sylvie Volosov have been promoted from apprentices to the corps de ballet.
Those joining San Francisco Ballet as apprentices include Caroline Wilson and former San Francisco Ballet School students Evan Hewer, Patricia Keleher, and Raymond Tilton. The company roster now stands at 69 dancers plus five apprentices.
San Francisco Ballet will offer a free performance at 2:00 p.m. Sunday, August 8, as part of the 73rd concert season in the city’s Stern Grove Festival.
The company will perform Helgi Tomasson’s Prism; the pas de deux from After the Rain by Christopher Wheeldon; the pas de deux from Act 3 of Don Quixote, with choreography after Marius Petipa; and Mark Morris’ Sandpaper Ballet.
Sigmund Stern Grove is at 19th Avenue and Sloat Boulevard in the city’s Sunset/Parkside district. Attendees should arrive well in advance to secure lawn seating; picnicking is encouraged. The festival provides no parking, which is always a challenge, but there’s a free bicycle valet service and a free shuttle within the grove for elderly and disabled visitors.
To learn more, visit www.sterngrove.org or call 415.252.6252.
Oregon Ballet Theatre is offering a 25 percent discount until May 14 on tickets to its 2010 Dance United fund-raiser. The June 3 event in Portland will feature dancers from OBT, The Joffrey Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, the Australian Ballet, and Dutch National Ballet.
The program will include San Francisco Ballet dancers in a pas de deux from Christopher Wheeldon’s Quaternary, Dutch National Ballet performing Hans Van Manen’s Two, and a preview of the Rose Adagio from Christopher Stowell’s The Sleeping Beauty, which will premiere this fall at OBT.
To claim the discount, use the code “UNITED25” when ordering online at www.ticketmaster.com/event/0F00447114AD437F or by phone at 503.2.BALLET.
If you did an online Google search on May 7, you didn’t see the search engine’s familiar logo on its home page. Instead, there was an oval sketch of a scene from Swan Lake that—if you squinted and had a vivid imagination—looked somewhat like the missing logo.
The one-day-only sketch was a tribute to the ballet’s composer, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, in celebration of the 170th anniversary of his birth. Google worked with San Francisco Ballet to stage a photo shoot around the company’s Swan Lake production, and those shots were then rendered into a doodle by Google’s Jennifer Hom.
For a behind-the-scenes look of the photo session, shot by San Francisco Ballet photographer Erik Tomasson, visit www.sfballet.org/interact/watch.
Following the opening-night gala on January 26, the season will offer eight programs performed in alternating repertory, from January 29 to May 7.
The so far untitled piece by Possokhov, the company’s choreographer in residence, will be his 13th for San Francisco Ballet. It premieres February 3 on a program with Sir Frederick Ashton’s Symphonic Variations and Balanchine’s Symphony in C.
Wheeldon’s new piece, his seventh for the company, opens April 8, sharing a program with Michel Fokine’s Petrouchka (100 years after its premiere with the Ballets Russes in Paris) and Renato Zanella’s Underskin.
The new Coppélia is a co-production with Pacific Northwest Ballet in Seattle, Washington, where it premieres in June 2010. It will make its San Francisco debut on March 19, 2011.
“I am particularly delighted that the company will offer the San Francisco Ballet premiere of George Balanchine’s Coppélia; a work that is very special to me since I performed the role of Franz in the original version of Balanchine’s production,” said the company’s artistic director, Helgi Tomasson, a former principal dancer with New York City Ballet. His production of Giselle will return on January 29.
San Francisco Ballet also will welcome back John Neumeier’s The Little Mermaid, on April 30, 2011. The company presented the piece’s U.S. premiere in its 2010 season.
Subscription packages of varying length to the 2011 season range in price from $49 to $3,800. To order them, call 415.865.2000 or visit www.sfballet.org, where single tickets
Neumeier’s ballet, to a commissioned score by Lera Auerbach, tells the story—familiar from the Hans Christian Andersen story and the Disney animated movie based on it—of a mermaid heroine who comes to know both marine and human life.
The choreographer created The Little Mermaid for The Royal Danish Ballet to mark the 200th anniversary of Andersen’s birth. San Francisco Ballet will present the current performing version, commissioned by The Hamburg Ballet, where Neumeier is artistic director.
The program—which is not recommended for younger children–will be presented through March 28. For tickets and more information, visit www.sfballet.org.
The Performing Arts Library at the San Francisco Museum of Performance & Design continues to amass a video archive of the Isadora Duncan Dance Awards (known as “The Izzies”), presented annually for a quarter-century to San Francisco Bay Area dance artists and organizations.
The Izzie Video Archive includes recordings from the annual award celebration—the most recent
was held January 12—as well as recordings and other material submitted by nominees and award winners.
Visitors can watch such award-winning performances as What Men Want by Scott Wells, The Ballad of Polly Ann by Jo Kreiter, and FLUX: Work in Progress Events by Dohee Lee. Wells won the 2010 choreography Izzie; Kreiter and Lee won special awards for their works.
MPD also is celebrating Erik Tomasson’s fifth year of photographing San Francisco Ballet with an exhibition of his work through March 6 in Gallery 2 of the museum.
The Performing Arts Library, 401 Van Ness Avenue, San Francisco, is open from noon to 5 P.M. Wednesday through Friday; call 415.255.4811, extension 818, for an appointment to view the collection. For more information, visit the museum’s website at www.mpdsf.org.
We have been publishing DSL (formerly known as Goldrush) for more than 5-years. This particular story has always been one of my favorites. Enjoy–Rhee
By Evelyn Cisneros
Sometimes it’s not dancing that makes a difference
You never know when something you do will touch the life of another person in a significant way. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in all my years of dancing, it’s that the things you’d least expect to make a difference are the ones that seem to matter the most. I’ll never forget how a split-second decision I made provided comfort to a young girl.
I was exhausted and wanted nothing more than a hot bath and bed, but something kept me from brushing this girl off.
I was in Detroit for a seasonal guest performance of Nutcracker during a hiatus from San Francisco Ballet, where I danced for 23 years. I was frequently mobbed backstage by little girls requesting a pair of my used pointe shoes—autographed, of course. Knowing this, I tried to be prepared with as many pairs as I could pack into my theater case. But that final night in Detroit, sitting in my dressing room packing up to leave, I came up one pair short. A young girl shyly approached me, asking for a pair for her sister who had put “a pair of pointe shoes worn by the Sugar Plum Fairy” on her Christmas list. I told her I had none left, and her face fell, and she stood there looking so disappointed that I felt my heart twinge.
I was exhausted and wanted nothing more than a hot bath and bed, but something kept me from brushing this girl off. All I had left were my warm-up shoes—de-shanked and shabby—but on impulse I dug into my ballet bag, pulled them out, and offered them to her. The huge smile that instantly transformed her face brought a smile to mine as well, and I asked for her sister’s name so I could sign the shoes. I don’t remember the name, but I scribbled a note to her and signed it “With love from the Sugar Plum Fairy, Evelyn Cisneros.” The girl hugged and thanked me, and I watched as she nearly danced out of the theater.
I never thought about that girl again, but two years later I was back in Detroit. Once again, after the well-wishers and autograph seekers had left the theater, the same young girl came up to me. She asked if she could speak to me. “Of course,” I told her.
“Do you remember me from when you were here two years ago?” she asked. “You gave me a pair of autographed pointe shoes for my sister, and you gave me the only pair you had left.”
The girl instantly came to mind, and I said that yes, I remembered her.
She continued, “I thought you might like to know how grateful I was that you gave my sister those shoes. She had talked about wanting to ask you for a pair days before the performance. You made her so happy.” The girl paused, and tears came into her eyes. “That night, after I gave her your shoes, she was killed in a car accident. It means so much to me that you made her happy that night. I think about that all the time—how the last night of her life was so special—and I wanted to thank you.”
I had just lost my own cousin, who was my older brother in life, and I held that beautiful little girl in my arms as we shared our tears. She looked me in the eyes and said, “It’s OK—I cried a lot the first year too.”
I don’t remember how—or if—I answered her. But I’ve never forgotten how it wasn’t my dancing that night so many years ago that made a difference in someone’s life—it was that reach into my dance bag for an old, worn-out pair of pointe shoes. That moment was my confirmation that taking time for a child can be life changing, and is really all we have to give.