This week, SF Ballet returned to Iceland to perform at the 2016 Reykjavik Arts Festival. The tour is, in part, a homecoming for Artistic Director & Principal Choreographer Helgi Tomasson who hails from the country. During Tomasson’s tenure, the Company has toured to Iceland four times, most recently in 2007. For this engagement, SF Ballet will present works by Tomasson, Christopher Wheeldon, George Balanchine, Hans van Manen, and Marius Petipa, accompanied by the Iceland Symphony Orchestra. Corps de Ballet Member Rebecca Rhodes took a moment out of her busy pre-tour schedule to tell us how she’s preparing for this international tour.
What ballets are you performing in Iceland?
I will be dancing in Helgi’s Trio and Christopher Wheeldon’s Within the Golden Hour.
How do you expect the Iceland audiences to react to the performances?
This is my first trip to Iceland, so it will be interesting to see the how people there react to the Company. I think they’ll love seeing us perform and enjoy welcoming Helgi back to his native country.
San Francisco Ballet in Wheeldon’s Within the Golden Hour. (© Erik Tomasson)
San Francisco Ballet’s 2016 Season may be over, but the San Francisco Ballet School students are busy rehearsing for the annual Student Showcase, which opens in less than two weeks.
Last month we talked to Hamburg Ballet’s Johan Stegli about what it was like setting Neumeier’s Yondering on School students, so today we’re spotlighting two more works being presented on Showcase; both ballets are by current Company members Wei Wang and James Sofranko.
With his new work, Focus, Corps de Ballet member Wei Wang says he’s “doing something different.” For one thing, his five dancers will perform in socks instead of the usual pointe shoes or ballet slippers. In addition, the more organic feel of his choreography is juxtaposed with classical ballet steps for a hybrid of the old and new.
Wei Wang and Yuan Yuan Tan rehearse Forsythe’s Pas/Parts 2016. (© Erik Tomasson)
San Francisco Ballet School’s Student Showcase, the highly anticipated annual performance given by students, is both a show and a fundraiser. While the evening provides audiences with the rare opportunity to experience a performance by the next generation of ballet professionals, it also helps raise the necessary funds to support important components of the School–from scholarships and student housing–to pointe shoes.
As co-hosts of the event with the School, the San Francisco Ballet Auxiliary has been hard at work preparing for this year’s performance and dinner which take place on May 25, 26, and 27. We recently sat down with Student Showcase Chair Michelle Gilman Jasen, to see what it takes to put on this extraordinary event.
SF Ballet School in Student Showcase. (© Erik Tomasson)
Why did you join the SF Ballet Auxiliary?
I am in my third year with the Auxiliary. I joined because I was fortunate enough to have been aligned with the Auxiliary professionally through the Fairmont Hotel and was really impressed with the women and all they do for SF Ballet, as well as for the arts more generally. I wanted to be able to contribute personally, as well as professionally. Read More
The 2016 Season marks the 40th anniversary of the SF Ballet Orchestra. As Artistic Director and Principal Choreographer Helgi Tomasson recently remarked, “The finest dance can only happen with the support of an equally world-class orchestra.” To celebrate our world-class musicians, we have introduced you to various members of the Orchestra throughout the season and today, we’d like to introduce Principal Violist Yi Zhou.
Zhou began playing viola at age 12, in his hometown of Beijing. After seven years, he switched to the viola because of its “rich tone, more human voice,” he says. Pitched a fifth lower than the violin, the viola has “a slightly bigger sound, and the bow technique is different.” Playing it requires being sensitive to other instruments, he says; from his mid-orchestra chair “one ear hears the first violin and one ear hears the cello. It’s like playing chamber music.”
Yi Zhou (© Chris Hardy)