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Helgi Tomasson’s farewell season with San Francisco Ballet concludes with ‘Swan Lake’

Yuan Yuan Tan and Tiit Helimets in Helgi Tomasson's 'Swan Lake'. Photo by Erik Tomasson.
Yuan Yuan Tan and Tiit Helimets in Helgi Tomasson's 'Swan Lake'. Photo by Erik Tomasson.

San Francisco Ballet (SF Ballet) will close Helgi Tomasson’s 37th and final season as Artistic Director and Principal Choreographer with Swan Lake, opening April 29, and running for 10 performances through May 8, at the War Memorial Opera House. Tomasson, who choreographed his first Swan Lake in 1988, three years after his appointment to SF Ballet, debuted the current production in 2009. The production has remained one of the most popular in the Company’s repertory. You can watch Swan Lake’s trailer here.

SF Ballet will honor Tomasson this month with Helgi Tomasson: A Celebration on April 24. The event includes a 5:30pm performance of choreographic highlights from throughout Tomasson’s career.

“When I choreographed Swan Lake in 1988, I approached the ballet as a test of this company’s standard, determined to show the public what we were capable of,” said Tomasson. “The dancers are at the top of their game, cherishing the chance to perform this ballet that is so close to our company’s roots. It is a poignant moment for me to share this experience with our audiences and present Swan Lake at the close of my tenure at SF Ballet.”

The most well-known of the classical ballets, Swan Lake made its U.S. premiere at SF Ballet in 1940. Tomasson’s Swan Lake includes set and costume designs by Tony Award–winner Jonathan Fensom and is danced to the score by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, performed live by SF Ballet Orchestra. It offers a dramatic and choreographic challenge for the dancer in the dual role of Odette/Odile, who encompasses both the innocence of Odette and the flashy malevolence of Odile. In his production, Tomasson also showcases male dancers in the first act, offers standout moments for the corps of 30 swans, retains Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov’s original second act, and adds a divertissement in the third. Swan Lake was last presented in San Francisco during the 2017 Repertory Season. 

San Francisco Ballet will present Swan Lake from 29-May 8, at the War Memorial Opera House. Casting will be announced soon at www.sfballet.org.

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