Hear Helgi Tomasson and Mark Morris interviewed live on BBC Radio 3‘s In Tune programme on Wednesday 12th at about 4.30pm. The interview (about 20 mins) will be available online for a week after.
Five Questions for Helgi Tomasson on San Francisco Ballet coming to London…
Q: Bringing your company to London – so what makes SFB so unique at the top of the ballet tree?
HT: I think what makes us unique is our emphasis on new works: each year we present 3-6 world premieres. This is something that the dancers truly love and excel at and I think our local San Francisco audience really enjoys seeing new works. In fact, Alistair Spalding, the chief executive and artistic director of Sadler’s Wells Theatre, asked that we bring some of our most recent new works for this London engagement and so that’s what we’ve done.
SFB is renowned for its wonderful dancers – what do you look for when you hire them?
Musicality and individuality come to mind but there’s no set formula. When I see someone dance for the first time, I know immediately if they’re right for the Company or not.
27 years at the top – you must have a good motto – so what would that be?
During my tenure here it would be: “Keep going and don’t look back” and ever since I was a dancer: “Chance nothing, gain nothing.”
Any regrets or missed opportunities along the way?
No regrets — I would do it all again the same way. In terms of missed opportunities, there are a few, all relating to when I was a dancer. For example, I wish I could have worked with William Forsythe or John Neumeier when I was still performing. I also regret that Antony Tudor asked me to dance Romeo in his production of Romeo and Juliet at Ballet Theatre, but due to unforeseen circumstances, I wasn’t able to. I can say that I don’t feel like I’ve missed any opportunities since I became artistic director at San Francisco Ballet.
Life can’t be all dance – what else do you look forward to doing in London?
London is a wonderful city and I always enjoy myself there. Though I’m not sure I’ll be able to do much given how busy I’ll be, I always enjoy the city’s great restaurants and I try to walk as much as possible.