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Helgi Tomasson

(b. 1942)


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(b Reykjavik, 8 Oct. 1942)

Icelandic-US dancer, choreographer, and company director. He studied with Sigridur Arman, Erik Bidsted, Volkova, at the School of American Ballet in New York, and with Stanley Williams. He made his debut with the Tivoli Ballet in Copenhagen in 1958; joined the Joffrey Ballet in 1962 and the Harkness Ballet in 1964. He created roles in Joffrey's Gamelan (1963), Walker's Night Song (1967), Butler's A Season in Hell (1967), Neumeier's Stages and Reflections (1968), and Harkarvy's La Favorita (1969). In 1970 he joined New York City Ballet as a principal dancer, where he remained for fifteen years, acclaimed as one of the most elegant and technically accomplished classical male dancers in America. At NYCB he created roles in Robbins's The Goldberg Variations (1971), Dybbuk Variations (1974), and Introduction and Allegro for Harp (1975), in Balanchine's Symphony in Three Movements (1972), Divertimento from Le Baiser de la fée (1972), Coppélia (1974), Union Jack (1976), and Vienna Waltzes (1977) and in Martins's The Magic Flute (1982). He started choreographing in 1982 and retired from dancing in 1985 when he became artistic director of San Francisco Ballet. For San Francisco he has made many one-act ballets, including Handel—A Celebration (mus. Handel, 1989), Meistens Mozart (mus. Mozart, 1991), Nanna's Lied (mus. Weill and Hollander, 1993), Sonata (mus. Rachmaninoff, 1995), Twilight (mus. Mendelssohn, 1998), Bartók Divertimento (mus. Bartók, 2002), Con Brio, 7 for Eight (mus. Bach, 2004), and On Common Ground (mus. Ned Rorem, 2007). He has also staged productions of Romeo and Juliet, Swan Lake, The Sleeping Beauty, Giselle, and Nutcracker. His most significant contribution to SFB however has been its revitalization to a world class company—achieved through his innovative commissioning of works by Morris, Wheeldon, and others, his nurturing of the dancers and his expansion of a serious audience for ballet.

Subjects: Dance.


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