San Francisco Ballet

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US ballet company. It was founded in 1933 as San Francisco Opera Ballet, together with an affiliated school, and at first performed primarily in opera, its few ballet productions choreographed by its ballet master, Bolm. When Serge Oukrainsky succeeded Bolm in 1937 the company became more independent and after its premier danseur Willam Christensen took over direction a year later it began to present full-length classics. Christensen choreographed the first US full-length production of Coppélia in 1939, followed by its first complete Swan Lake (1940) and Nutcracker (1944). Harold Christensen joined the company as dancer and director of the school and in 1942 the two brothers bought both school and company from the Opera board, renaming them San Francisco Ballet and San Francisco Ballet School. In 1951 the third brother, Lew Christensen, joined as co-director, becoming sole director of the company in 1952. He established links with New York City Ballet and acquired many Balanchine works. The company began foreign touring in 1957 (making its British debut in Edinburgh, 1981) but during the 1960s it was weakened by the departure of many dancers to New York. In 1973 Michael Smuin joined as co-director. He brought a new theatrical style to the repertory, including his own versions of Cinderella, The Tempest, and Romeo and Juliet. He was sole director in 1984 but was then succeeded by Helgi Tomasson who re-invigorated the company's classical base and re-established its international reputation. He expanded the number of dancers, acquired new Balanchine works, re-staged some of the classics, and added new works by himself, Morris, Bintley, Kudelka, Forsythe, Taylor, Possokhov, Wheeldon, and others to the repertory. Its dancers, many of them trained at the school, are renowned for their versatility in both classical and contemporary idioms, with recent ballerinas including Tina LeBlanc, Yuan Yuan Tan, and Sofiane Sylve.

http://www.sfballet.org Website for San Francisco Ballet

Subjects: Dance.

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