Tour in Conjunction with the 60th Anniversary of the Founding of the People’s Republic of China and the 30th Anniversary of the Establishment of Official Diplomatic Relations between the U.S. and the People’s Republic of China
By Seán Martinfield
Sentinel Editor and Publisher
Photo by Lynn Imanaka
San Francisco Ballet, the oldest professional ballet company in America, has announced that it has been invited on a three-city tour to China this fall, as part of the official celebrations for the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China and the 30th anniversary of the establishment of official diplomatic relations between the United States of America and the People’s Republic of China. The tour will include prestigious engagements in Shanghai, Suzhou, and Beijing from September 22nd to October 3rd, for a total of eight performances. The tour marks the first visit by SF Ballet to the People’s Republic of China.
Shanghai Grand Theatre
SF Ballet will present two programs on tour, including SF Ballet Artistic Director and Principal Choreographer Helgi Tomasson’s full-length production of Swan Lake, which premiered in 1988, and a mixed-repertory program featuring a diverse range of acclaimed works by George Balanchine, Tomasson, and Christopher Wheeldon.
Tomasson’s Swan Lake. Photo, Erik Tomasson
“On the occasion of these two historic and landmark anniversaries, we are very honored to participate in the country’s celebrations by performing my production of Swan Lake and a mixed-repertory program that not only showcases the talent of the Company, but also demonstrates the diversity of our repertory,” said Tomasson. “This invitation confirms San Francisco’s international reputation as a center for the arts. We are particularly proud to be representing our community.”
SF Ballet will commence its three-week engagement with four performances at the Shanghai Grand Theatre (September 22nd—25th), followed by one performance at the Suzhou Grand Theatre (September 28), and concluding with three performances at the Beijing Poly Theater (October 1st—3rd). In addition to presenting Tomasson’s full-length classic Swan Lake, the Company will also perform a mixed-repertory program. The final programming for each performance date is to be determined.
Lorena Feijoo and Pierre-François Vilanoba – Tomasson’s Swan Lake. Photo, Erik Tomasson
Lobby, Shanghai Grand Theatre
Designed by French architect Jean-Marie Charpentier and Associates, the Shanghai Grand Theatre is acknowledged to be the best opera house in Asia and one of the very best in the world. Located in the northwest corner of People’s Square, it boasts three separate theaters: a 1,800-seat main theater for ballet, opera, and symphony; a 600-seat medium theater for chamber music; and a 200-seat small theater for drama and fashion shows. With world-class operas, ballets, and symphony concerts continuously being performed here, the Grand Theatre serves as the center of the city’s cultural life and has played host to the Russian Kirov Ballet and London’s Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, among others.
Suzhou Grand Theatre
Designed by architect Paul Andreu and located on the shores of the Jin Ji Lake, the Suzhou Science and Cultural Arts Center consists of two buildings, one in the shape of a crescent moon and the other built to resemble a pearl. The facility houses the 1,200-seat Grand Theatre with its expansive multipurpose proscenium stage and a 500-seat dinner theater. In addition, the center has seven movie theaters, an IMAX theater, cafes, multifunction halls, an art gallery, a science and technology exhibition, a shopping center, and gardens. It also boasts a state-of-the-art entertainment lighting system. Completed in 2007 in time for China’s National Day, highlights of the inaugural season included Carmen, The Silk Road, This Night, and performances by the Budapest Orchestra.
Beijing Poly Theater
Located in the Beijing Poly Plaza and designed by the renowned British TT International Stage Designing Company Ltd., the Beijing Poly Theater hosts performances of ballet, opera, and concerts, as well as large-scale international conferences and film shows. Since its opening in 1991, more than 3,000 musical, dance, and drama numbers have been performed by 300 local and international artistic groups. It is a major venue for many important arts activities, such as the annual Beijing Music Festival. Renovated in October 2000, the world-class theater has 1,428 seats, eight balcony boxes, and two VIP boxes. The audio, lighting, and computerized stage house machinery systems are all state-of-the-art. Many renowned artistic companies have performed at the theater, including the Russian National Philharmonic Orchestra, Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra, Singapore Symphony Orchestra, China Philharmonic Orchestra, and China Central Ballet, among others.
Shanghai Grand Theatre, Lobby
As America’s oldest professional ballet company and one of the three largest ballet companies in the United States, San Francisco Ballet has enjoyed a long and rich tradition of artistic “firsts” since its founding in 1933. It performed the first American productions of Swan Lake and Nutcracker, as well as the first production of Coppélia choreographed by an American choreographer. Guided in its early years by American dance pioneers and brothers Lew, Willam, and Harold Christensen, San Francisco Ballet currently presents more than 100 performances a year locally, nationally, and abroad. Under the direction of Helgi Tomasson for more than two decades, the Company has achieved an international reputation as one of the preeminent ballet companies in the world. In 2005, San Francisco Ballet won the prestigious Laurence Olivier Award, its first, in the category of “Outstanding Achievement in Dance,” and a year later, was the first non-European company elected “Company of the Year” in Dance Europe magazine’s annual readers’ poll. In 2008, San Francisco Ballet celebrated its 75th anniversary with a host of initiatives that included a New Works Festival of 10 world premieres by 10 renowned choreographers. 2010 marks the 25th anniversary of SF Ballet Artistic Director and Principal Choreographer Helgi Tomasson’s tenure with the Company.
Tomasson’s Swan Lake. Photo, Erik Tomasson
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Sentinel Editor and Publisher
Seán Martinfield, who also serves as Fine Arts Critic, is a native San Franciscan. He is a Theatre Arts Graduate from San Francisco State University, a professional singer, and well-known private vocal coach to Bay Area actors and singers of all ages and persuasions. His clients have appeared in Broadway National Tours including Wicked, Aïda, Miss Saigon, Rent, Bye Bye Birdie, in theatres and cabarets throughout the Bay Area, and are regularly featured in major City events including Diva Fest, Gay Pride, and Halloween In The Castro. As an Internet consultant in vocal development and audition preparation he has published thousands of responses to those seeking his advice concerning singing techniques, professional and academic auditions, and careers in the Performing Arts. Mr. Martinfield’s Broadway clients have all profited from his vocal methodology, “The Belter’s Method”, which is being prepared for publication. If you want answers about your vocal technique, post him a question on AllExperts.com. If you would like to build up your vocal performance chops and participate in the Bay Area’s rich theatrical scene, e-mail him at: email@example.com.