Famed Artistic Director Helgi Tomasson world premier among San Francisco Ballet 75th Anniversary season, reports Executive Director Glen McFoy.
Photos by John Han
Copyright © 2007 San Francisco Sentinel
In 2008 San Francisco Ballet will celebrate 75 years of presenting dance in the City and around the world.
7th Anniversary brings new logo to San Francisco Ballet
“What a milestone for an American company to achieve — and that without any government support!” company Artistic Director Helgi Tomasson said at a news conference Wednesday morning at the San Francisco War Memorial Opera House.
Surrounded by company dancers, Tomasson accepted letters of congratulations from California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom.
Tomasson then described the ballet’s plans to celebrate this momentous occasion.
“For the 75th anniversary of America’s oldest professional ballet company, we celebrate this milestone by looking forward,” Tomasson said. “Creativity and new works are the lifeblood of this company.”
He added, by way of explanation, that he had been advised long ago that new ballets were absolutely critical for the survival of the dance art form.
“This doesn’t mean I do not like classical works,” Tomasson added hastily. “But new works are vitally necessary.”
So along this line, he said he has invited 10 choreographers to create 10 world premieres for his talented dancers. The premieres will be presented all at once at a “New Works Festival” scheduled to run from April 22 through May 6, 2008. Choreographers who will mount these new dances are Julia Adams, Val Caniparoli, Jorma Elo, Margaret Jenkins, James Kudelka, Mark Morris, Yuri Possokhov, Paul Taylor, Stanton Welch, and Christopher Wheeldon. Jenkins’ work will be to commissioned music by Paul Dresher; Kudelka’s to commissioned music by Rodney Sharman; and Morris’s to John Adams new “Son of Chamber Symphony.”
In addition, Tomasson has invited three international ballet companies to come to San Francisco to help celebrate the 75th Anniversary.
These companies will perform Program 6 of the company’s 2008 Repertory Season, giving the San Francisco dancers extra time to prepare for the “New Works Festival” that will follow Program 6. The companies performing will be Les Ballets de Monte Carlo, which will dance the American premiere of Jean-Christophe Maillot’s “Altro Canto”; The National Ballet of Canada dancing the San Francisco premiere of Matjash Mrozewski’s “A Delicate Battle”; and the New York City Ballet presenting George Balanchine’s “Duo Concertant.”
The San Francisco Ballet’s 75th Anniversary Season begins Jan. 23, 2008 with a Diamond Gala Celebration. This opening night Gala will feature three dinners at City Hall, followed by a special one night only performance at the Opera House and a post-performance party.
The Repertory Season opens with Program 1 on Jan. 29. The season will include a new work by Tomasson and a tribute to Jerome Robbins who was responsible for Tomasson coming to America to dance and was a mentor to him.
The All Robbins program will include the San Francisco Ballet premiere of the “West Side Story Suite.”
“You know our dancers can dance,” Tomasson said, ”but did you know they can also sing. Come to this program and see.”
Tomasson also announced that the San Francisco Ballet’s 2007 “Nutcracker” will be televised and shown on KQED Public Television in 2008 as well as being offered nationwide through the PBS system..
“We are all very excited about this, he said, adding that the hope is that the “Nutcracker” will be broadcast for many Christmases to come.
In the fall of 2008, the San Francisco Ballet will go on a four-city American Tour, Tomasson said, giving a total of 32 performances.
The company will perform in Chicago at the Harris Theater in September, at the New York City Center in October, at the Orange County Performing Arts Center in Costa Mesa the first of November, and at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington D.C. in late November.
Tomasson said that other 75th Anniversary events include the publication by Chronicle Books of a commemorative book titled “San Francisco Ballet at Seventy Five” by dance scholar and historian Janice Ross. The book will cover the ascent of the ballet company from its humble beginnings in 1933 to its current international status, and will include a DVD that provides insight into that journey.
Another highlight of the anniversary is the San Francisco Ballet Orchestra’s all-new recording of the full score of Tchaikovsky’s “Nutcracker” with the San Francisco Boys Chorus providing vocal for the Snow Scene in Act I. This record will go on sale in late 2007. The Ballet’s annual
“Nutcracker” performances begin Dec. 13, 2007.
Glenn McCoy, executive director of the San Francisco Ballet, spoke about a number of exhibits being planned around the 75th Anniversary of the company.
The San Francisco Airport Museum will honor the Ballet with an exhibit of 150 of its costumes, historical photographs and artifacts in the International Terminal and a photographic exhibit in the United Airlines Terminal.
The San Francisco Performing Arts Library and Museum (SFPALM) will create an exhibit in the spring of 2008 showcasing the Ballet’s innovative costume and set designs. This exhibit will inaugurate SFPALM’s new redesigned galleries space.
For the last year, John Han served Sentinel readership as a freelance photographer. He has that natural eye for photography which cannot be developed or learned. He has earned a following of clients, including the World Affairs Council of Northern California. John joined the Sentinel fulltime in April, 2007.