S.F. Ballet to Stage Major International Festival of New Works

Janos Gereben on January 24, 2017
Besides Swimmer, shown here, SFB Resident Choreographer Yuri Possokhov has authored many works here and for other companies | Credit: Erik Tomasson

In 1995, San Francisco Ballet presented what The New York Times called “a strikingly original festival” welcoming 13 ballet companies from five continents to mark the 50th anniversary of the United Nations, born in this city.

Yesterday, SFB Artistic Director Helgi Tomasson announced a similar project to be part of the 2018 season, a festival of 12 new ballets by choreographers chosen from around the world. The works will be the centerpiece of the repertory season, forming four programs from April 20 to May 6, 2018. Tomasson said:

I've planned and conceived this festival over the past year because I believe deeply in the importance of supporting new work. Indeed, S.F. Ballet has long been recognized for pushing the boundaries of dance, and we understand that our art form must continue to evolve in order to keep it vital and relevant.

Edwaard Liang, whose Symphonic Dances was performed here, is among invited choreographers for the festival | Credit: Erik Tomasson

Full festival details, including associated activities and events, will be made public at the time of the 2018 season announcement three months from now, but the list of participating choreographers has been announced: David Dawson, Alonzo King, Edwaard Liang, Annabelle Lopez Ochoa, Cathy Marston, Trey McIntyre, Justin Peck, Arthur Pita, Yuri Possokhov, Dwight Rhoden, Stanton Welch, and Christopher Wheeldon.

“To ensure that ballet as an art form continues to evolve, we need to support and showcase choreographers who display ingenuity, passion for the art form, and fresh thinking -- and who are willing to take risks,” said Tomasson. This festival will offer audiences a rare and unique opportunity to see where the work of some the most exciting choreographers of our time is headed. It’s a tremendous group of artists, and I think the future of ballet looks very bright.”

Dawson is an associate artist at Dutch National Ballet, his full-length works being produced by major European dance companies. Liang, formerly with the New York City Ballet, is artistic director at BalletMet. Ochoa, from Belgium, has created works for more than 40 companies worldwide.

Marston, formerly with the Royal Opera and director of Bern Ballet, has choreographed for some 50 companies. McIntyre, founder of Trey McIntyre Project, is also a filmmaker, writer, and photographer. Peck is resident choreographer and soloist dancer with the New York City Ballet; his Countenance of Kings is part of the SFB season.

Pita is a London-based choreographer, who often collaborates on theater, film, and opera productions. Moscow-trained Possokhov is resident choreographer with SFB and has created many new works here and elsewhere. Rhoden is founding artistic director and resident choreographer of Complexions Contemporary Ballet.

Welch is an Australian choreographer, currently artistic director of Houston Ballet. Five of his ballets have been produced by SFB. Wheeldon, former dancer with the Royal Ballet and New York City Ballet, is an associate artist at Sadler’s Wells Theatre and has choreographed for SFB nine times before.