Selective News Items

San Francisco Ballet bringing 9 premieres to London in September 2012

SGB Logo

Programme update 28 March 2012

Please note that Helgi Tomasson has changed the programme order for the San Francisco Ballet London season. Same works, but different combinations.

Programme A – Friday 14 & Tuesday 18 September at 7.30pm, Sunday 23 September at 4pm
Divertimento No. 15 (Mozart / Balanchine)
Symphonic Dances (Rachmaninov / Liang)
Number Nine (Torke / Wheeldon)

Programme B – Saturday 15 & Friday 21 September at 7.30pm, Sunday 16 September at 4pm
Trio(Tchaikovsky / Tomasson)
Ghosts (Winger / Wheeldon)
Guide to Strange Places (Adams / Page)

Programme C – Wednesday 19, Thursday 20 & Saturday 22 September at 7.30pm
Beaux (Martinů / Morris)
Classical Symphony (Prokofiev / Possokhov)
RAkU (Eshima / Possokhov)
Within the Golden Hour (Bosso / Vivaldi / Wheeldon)

press release: 13 March 2012


14 – 23 SEPTEMBER 2012

no other American company covers an equal range of international ballet styles…[can]surpass it for overall elegance and finesse of execution; [or] has a greater number of ballerinas worthy of the leading roles of its repertory.”
New York Times

True to style, San Francisco Ballet Artistic Director & Principal Choreographer Helgi Tomasson is showcasing his dancers in a highly varied programme of ten short works – no fewer than nine of them UK premieres – for their long-awaited return to the London stage. Waving its banner of versatility and innovation, SF Ballet – America’s oldest professional dance company – will perform new, specially-commissioned dance pieces by Edwaard Liang, Mark Morris, Ashley Page, Yuri Possokhov, Helgi Tomasson and Christopher Wheeldon. The historic jewel will be George Balanchine’s Divertimento No 15.

Yuan Yuan Tan and Rubén Martín Cintas in Wheeldon's Number Nine. © Erik Tomasson.
Yuan Yuan Tan and Rubén Martín Cintas in Wheeldon's Number Nine. © Erik Tomasson.

“London is a favorite tour destination for our Company and we’re delighted to be returning after eight years,” said Tomasson, who has directed SF Ballet for over 27 years. ”We are privileged to work with some of the best choreographers in the world and some of their new works provide a wonderful showcase for our dancers’ broad ranges and abilities. I think London audiences will enjoy the diverse and exciting works that we’ll be presenting, almost all of which are UK premieres.”

Alistair Spalding, Chief Executive and Artistic Director Sadler’s Wells commented “I’m delighted to be welcoming San Francisco Ballet back to the Sadler’s Wells stage. Helgi Tomasson has developed an inspired philosophy for his company, of creating new work in ballet with the most gifted choreographers of our generation. That spirit fits perfectly with Sadler’s Wells’ mission to present the best contemporary work in all dance genres. These superb dancers will be performing a rich and varied programme of works that will remind UK audiences of the company’s justified stature on the world stage.”

Yuan Yuan Tan and Damian Smith in Wheeldon's Ghosts. © Erik Tomasson.
Yuan Yuan Tan and Damian Smith in Wheeldon's Ghosts. © Erik Tomasson.

For more than a decade, Tomasson has championed the work of British choreographer Christopher Wheeldon; he has created seven works expressly for SF Ballet, with eleven of his pieces in the SF Ballet repertory. The Wheeldon ballets selected for the London season will unfurl across the three mixed-bill programmes and were all specially created for SF Ballet. Set to a rhythmic score by contemporary Italian composer Ezio Bosso, Within the Golden Hour was created for SF Ballet’s 75th Anniversary New Works Festival in 2008. Wheeldon’s direct inspiration from the music prompted clear visions of place – from the remote Hebrides to an Italian piazza – with hints of charleston, waltz and tango along the way. Wheeldon’s Ghosts (2010) is set to a “silvery” score written for him by C.F. Kip Winger (a former bassist for Alice Cooper) and inspired by poems of Edgar Allen Poe. Wheeldon describes his choreographic vision as “a mass gathering of souls.” Number Nine (2011), for four principal couples and eight corps de ballet couples, is driven along by Michael Torke’s energetic score and described by the choreographer himself as “a full-throttle dance with some pretty full-throttle music.”

Maria Kochetkova and Joan Boada in Wheeldon's Within The Golden Hour. © Erik Tomasson
Maria Kochetkova and Joan Boada in Wheeldon's Within The Golden Hour. © Erik Tomasson

The Company will also unveil the fruits of another Anglo-American choreographic association, with the UK premiere of Ashley Page’s first work for SF Ballet. Guide to Strange Places is also the title of the music composed by San Francisco composer John Adams – a highly complex score which Page has been musing on for many years. A large ensemble piece, with four duets for principal couples, Page variously describes the different tones of movement as “searing, earthy, romantic, delicate and sensual.”

Mark Morris’s love affair with the dancers of SF Ballet continues unabated (he has choreographed more works for SF Ballet than any company other than his own), with a lyrical, witty piece, Beaux, which parades the talents of SF Ballet’s strong male dancers in egalitarian fashion, from principals to corps de ballet members. Set to neo-classical works for harpsichord by 20th century composer Bohuslav Martinů, it represents Morris’ eighth work to enter the Company’s repertory.

San Francisco Ballet in Morris' Beaux. © Erik Tomasson.
San Francisco Ballet in Morris' Beaux. © Erik Tomasson.

Born in Taiwan and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, choreographer Edwaard Liang is less well-known to British audiences than American. Symphonic Dances is his first commission for SF Ballet and is set to Rachmaninov’s last composition of the same name – a massive, structured score that unfolds in an intensely spiritual dance piece for an ensemble of 18 dancers.

Yuri Possokhov’s relationship with SF Ballet spans almost two decades, having been a Principal Dancer from 1994-2006. He was named SF Ballet’s Choreographer in Residence in 2006 and has created numerous works for the Company, including collaborations with Helgi Tomasson on major full-length productions. Described by the New York Times as an “exhilarating and bold display of full-throttle academic pure dance with modern accentuations …[and] “strokes of wit,” Classical Symphony (2010) is praised by the same critic for its “sheer verve and nerve.” In contrast, the fragile beauty of Noh-influenced RAkU, a multimedia dance theatre work, is inspired by the burning of Kyoto’s Golden Pavilion in Japan in 1950. The ballet is set to a symphonic score composed by Shinji Eshima, double bassist in the SF Ballet Orchestra.

Yuan Yuan Tan in Possokhov's RAkU. © Erik Tomasson
Yuan Yuan Tan in Possokhov's RAkU. © Erik Tomasson

As a principal dancer with New York City Ballet, Helgi Tomasson danced and created roles in many of Balanchine’s ballets. Tomasson has made the brilliance and discipline of Balanchine’s work part of the classical bedrock of SF Ballet’s training and performance work. Mozart’s Divertimento No. 15 in B-flat major engendered an intimate ballet by Balanchine, in which every dancer has the opportunity to shine.

The canon of Helgi Tomasson’s own works for SF Ballet are choreographed to display the Company’s profoundly classical and lyrical talents. Trio, set to Tchaikovsky’s Souvenir de Florence, was created for the Company’s 2011 repertory season. Of Trio, the New York Times praised the work, noting that it “showcases [the] dancers handsomely.”

San Francisco Ballet in Tomasson's Trio. © Erik Tomasson.
San Francisco Ballet in Tomasson's Trio. © Erik Tomasson.

SF Ballet Music Director and Principal Conductor, Martin West, will conduct a symphony orchestra of UK players at each performance.

Booking Details:
Sadler’s Wells Box Office: 0844 412 4300
Booking opens 10AM 15 March 2012


The Following details are now wrong- see programme at the top of this page – 28 March 2012

Programme details

Programme A
Sept. 14,18 at 7:30pm; Sept 23 at 4:00pm

Divertimento No.15
Choreography: George Balanchine
Music: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Divertimento No 15 in B-flat major
Staged by Elyse Borne
Costume Design: after Karinska
Lighting Design: Mark Stanley

Symphonic Dances
Choreography: Edwaard Liang
Music: Sergei Rachmaninov Symphonic Dances Op. 45
Costume Design: Mark Zappone
Lighting Design: Jack Mehler

Within the Golden Hour
Choreography: Christopher Wheeldon©
Music: Ezio Bosso
Designs: Martin Pakledinaz
Lighting Design: James F. Ingalls


Programme B
Sept. 15, 21 at 7:30pm; Sept. 16 at 4:00pm

Choreography: Christopher Wheeldon
Music: C.F. Kip Winger
Scenic Design: Laura Jellinek
Costume Design: Mark Zappone
Lighting Design Mary Louise Geiger

Chorography: Yuri Possokhov
Music: Shinji Eshima
Scenic & Projection Design: Alexander V. Nichols
Costume Design: Mark Zappone
Lighting Design: Christopher Dennis

Choreography: Helgi Tomasson
Music: Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky Souvenir de Florence
Scenic Design: Alexander V. Nichols
Costume Design: Mark Zappone
Lighting Design: Christopher Dennis


Programme C
Sept. 19, 20, 22 at 7:30pm

Choreography: Mark Morris
Music: Bohuslav Martinů Concerto for Harpsichord and Small Orchestra, Two pieces for harpsichord, lento
Scenic and Costume Design: Isaac Mizrahi
Lighting Design: Michael Chybowski

Classical Symphony
Chorography: Yuri Possokhov
Music: Sergei Prokofiev
Costume Design Sandra Woodall
Lighting Design: David Finn
Video Concept: Yuri Zhukov

Guide to Strange Places
Choreography: Ashley Page
Music: John Adams Guide to Strange Places
Scenic & Costume Design: Jon Morrell
Lighting Design: David Finn

Number Nine
Choreography: Christopher Wheeldon
Music: Michael Torke Ash
Costume Design: Holly Hynes
Lighting Design: Mary Louise Geiger



As America’s oldest professional ballet company, San Francisco Ballet has enjoyed a long and rich tradition of artistic “firsts” since its founding in 1933, including performing the first American productions of Swan Lake and Nutcracker, as well as the first 20th-century American Coppélia. San Francisco Ballet is one of the three largest ballet companies in the United States. 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 annually, both locally and internationally. 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 in the category of “Outstanding Achievement in Dance” and in 2006, it was the first non-European company elected “Company of the Year” in Dance Europe magazine’s annual readers’ poll. In 2008, the Company marked its 75thanniversary with a host of initiatives including an ambitious New Works Festival. Recent highlights include a tour to the People’s Republic of China, the celebration of Artistic Director & Principal Choreographer Helgi Tomasson’s 25th anniversary with the Company, and the United States premiere of John Neumeier’s The Little Mermaid, which was broadcast internationally, as well as nationally on PBS’s Great Performances “Dance in America” in December 2011. San Francisco Ballet has previously performed in London in 1999, 2001 and 2004.

Further background information:

DanceTabs Contributors

Regular contributors…

Claudia Bauer | Foteini Christofilopoulou | Gay Morris | Graham Watts | Heather Desaulniers | Jann Parry | Josephine Leask | Karen Greenspan | Lynette Halewood | Marina Harss | Oksana Khadarina | Siobhan Murphy | Susanna Sloat | Valerie Lawson | Bruce Marriott (Ed)

The above list is composed of those whose work we feature regularly and have generally contributed in the last few months.

>> Complete list of DanceTabs Contributors and more info.

DanceTabs Tweets