6 January 2020
Helgi Tomasson will step down as artistic director and principal choreographer of the San Francisco Ballet by June 2022, the company announced Wednesday, Jan. 6. The move will put the seal on nearly four decades of artistic leadership that has helped propel the ballet company to the forefront of the dance world.
Since being named to the position in 1985, Tomasson, 78, has been hailed for his success at combining excellence in the classical ballet repertoire with a spirit of artistic innovation and the development of new work. Tomasson alone has created more than 50 dances for the company, as well as commissioning work from a wide range of contemporary masters and developing artists. Meanwhile, the technical level of execution on display at the War Memorial Opera House has made S.F. Ballet a beacon both nationally and internationally.
Six years ago, in an interview with The Chronicle, Tomasson waved away the prospect of retirement, saying he was too busy to even think about the possibility. But now, he says, the Ballet is well-positioned to forge ahead with a new chapter in its 88-year history — and he and his wife, Marlene, are eager to spend more time with family, including their two grandchildren in Germany.
“This had been on my mind for a while, even before the pandemic,” he said in a video interview over Zoom. “And as I assess where we are now, I feel the company has come through this very well.
“We’ve been rehearsing since September. We were able to create three new ballets and film them for streaming. That’s quite an accomplishment.”
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