HELGI TOMASSON’S 25th ANNIVERSARY – SF Ballet Gala, January 20th

Exhibit of Erik Tomasson’s SF Ballet images now at the Museum of Performance and Design

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By Seán Martinfield
Sentinel Editor and Publisher
Photo by Lynn Imanaka

On Wednesday, January 20th, San Francisco Ballet Artistic Director and Principal Choreographer Helgi Tomasson will be honored at the Ballet’s Opening Night Gala, Silver Celebration, on the occasion of his 25 years as artistic director of SF Ballet, the oldest professional ballet company in America. Tomasson is a native of Reykjavik, Iceland. He was discovered by master choreographer Jerome Robbins and began his illustrious performance career with The Joffrey Ballet and other companies. As a principal dancer at New York City Ballet, he was considered one of the finest classical dancers of his era. In 1985, Tomasson became artistic director of SF Ballet, and under his artistic leadership the Company has grown into a world-class ballet company, known for its diverse repertory and dancers of incredible range and skill. The New York Times has called Tomasson’s tenure “one of the spectacular success stories of the arts in America” and The Sunday Times (UK) noted, “Tomasson’s outstanding artistic direction…has transformed a regional American dance troupe into one of the world’s top ballet companies.”

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Helgi Tomasson at the 2008 Gala Performance. Photo, Erik Tomasson

In addition to a steadfast commitment to touring, both nationally and internationally, Tomasson has cultivated a vast and diverse body of repertory, including numerous new works. Over the past 25 years, more than 100 world premiere works have been presented by SF Ballet, and in 2008, as part of the Company’s 75th anniversary, Tomasson oversaw the New Works Festival of 10 world premieres by 10 diverse and renowned choreographers. A choreographer himself, Tomasson has created over 40 works for the Company and in 2008, his acclaimed production of Nutcracker was broadcast nationally on Great Performances on PBS, in partnership with KQED Public Television in San Francisco.

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HELGI TOMASSON. Photo, David Martinez

Among his numerous and prestigious awards, Tomasson was granted the rank of Officier in the French Order of Arts and Letters in 2001, and has been bestowed honorary degrees by institutions including New York’s Juilliard School. In 2005, Tomasson received SF Ballet’s highest honor, the prestigious Lew Christensen Medal, in honor of his 20th anniversary as artistic director. In 2007, President of Iceland Olafur Ragnar Grimsson awarded Tomasson the Grand Cross Star of the Order of the Falcon, the country’s highest honor. Under his leadership, the Company won its first Laurence Olivier Award in 2005; three years later, SF Ballet received the Jerome Robbins Award for excellence in dance.

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Helgi Tomasson in rehearsal. Photo, Erik Tomasson

2010 OPENING NIGHT GALA: Silver Celebration
SF Ballet’s Opening Night Gala, Silver Celebration, on January 20, 2010, will honor Tomasson’s 25 years of artistic leadership. The event includes cocktails and four dinners in City Hall, as well as a special, one-night only performance by the Company at the historic War Memorial Opera House. The performance will include excerpts from a number of Tomasson’s acclaimed works, and the evening will culminate with a post-performance party at City Hall. Click here for ticket information: Opening Night Gala

ANNIVERSARY EXHIBITION
In conjunction with Tomasson’s 25th anniversary, Photographer Erik Tomasson also celebrates five years of photographing SF Ballet. His work has been published locally, nationally, and internationally. He captures the incredible breadth and diversity of the Company’s repertory, from classical and neoclassical, to contemporary works. Beginning January 12th and running through March 6th, a selection of Tomasson’s images will be on display at the Museum of Performance and Design. Following the exhibition, limited-edition prints will be available for sale. In addition, on January 12th, an exhibition opening will be held as part of the ENCORE! 2010 Season Kick-off Event. For more information, visit ENCORE! Events.

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Maria Kochetkova and Joan Boada in Wheeldon’s Within the Golden Hour. Photo, Erik Tomasson

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Seán Martinfield
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: sean.martinfield@comcast.net.

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