San Francisco Ballet’s Big 2017–2018 Season

Janos Gereben on April 12, 2017
San Francisco Ballet in The Sleeping Beauty | Credit: Erik Tomasson

Adding to the previously announced Unbound: A Festival of New Works, San Francisco Ballet today completed information about its next season. Among season highlights: SFB Artistic Director Helgi Tomasson’s version of the classic Marius Petipa Sleeping Beauty (Program 1), revival of Val Caniparoli’s Ibsen’s House (Program 3), and a Leonard Bernstein-Jerome Robbins centennial celebration (Program 5) — the composer and choreographer were both born in 1918. The four Robbins works are Opus 19/The Dreamer, The Cage, Other Dances, and Fancy Free.

Founded in 1933, the nation’s oldest dance company is also one of the country’s most popular, with audiences likely to fill the 3,146-seat War Memorial Opera House for 30 performances of Nutcracker (Dec. 13–30, 2017) and at many of the 62 performances in the 10-program repertory season which runs from Jan. 23 to May 6, 2018.

After the gala opening night on Jan. 18, SFB presents a season that culminates in Programs 7 and 8, April 20–May 6, consisting of the Unbound festival, which showcases 12 new works by invited notable choreographers — David Dawson, Alonzo King, Edwaard Liang, Annabelle Lopez Ochoa, Cathy Marston, Trey McIntyre, Justin Peck, Arthur Pita, Dwight Rhoden, Myles Thatcher, Stanton Welch, and Christopher Wheeldon. Originally scheduled, Yuri Possokhov withdrew because of a scheduling conflict.

Tomasson, who also created the company’s 1995 festival marking the 50th anniversary of the United Nations by inviting 13 ballet companies from five continents, says of the 2018 event:

Fancy Free is part of a program celebrating the Bernstein-Robbins centennial | Credit: Erik Tomasson

“I’m especially excited about this festival of 12 world premieres by some of the most innovative and forward-thinking choreographers working today ... to offer a glimpse at the future of our art form." Tomasson also singled out Program 6 honoring "the centennial of the birth of master composer Leonard Bernstein as well as my mentor, Jerome Robbins. We will honor both artists with a special program, Robbins: Ballet & Broadway.” (Robbins was a vital presence throughout his career and at Tomasson’s farewell performance at the New York City Ballet three decades ago.)

The repertory season also presents revivals of the Balanchine Serenade and Benjamin Millepied’s The Chairman Dances (on Program 2), Liam Scarlett’s full-length production of Frankenstein (Program 4).

The National Ballet of Canada is featured on Program 6, with John Neumeier’s full-length Nijinsky, which was premiered by the Hamburg Ballet in 2000 and presented in San Francisco by the Hamburg Ballet in 2013 Repertory Season.

Benjamin Millepied’s The Chairman Dances | Credit: Erik Tomasson

In the summer and fall of 2017, SFS presents a series of behind-the-scenes, live-stream programs that will highlight work by the festival choreographers. These programs will offer viewers an opportunity to meet the choreographers, experience the new works’ development process, and watch a rehearsal excerpt of each new ballet. The company is also commissioning a series of dance films inspired by festival works. The dance films will become the centerpiece of community pop-up events that will introduce audiences to the festival.