S.F. Ballet celebrates diamond anniversary

Filling the huge lobby of the Opera House for a Wednesday morning press conference with representatives of the city’s artistic community, San Francisco Ballet wished itself a happy 75th birthday.

The country’s oldest ballet company, made up of more than 70 dancers and 350 students, keeps getting older, but next year will be more than just another turn of the calendar. Artistic Director Helgi Tomasson calls it “a true milestone,” with justification.

The 2008 season will feature an extraordinary festival of 10 world premieres, all commissioned by SFB, including a work by Mark Morris to music to be written by John Adams. Other birthday presents include new choreography by company alumni Julia Adam, Val Caniparoli and Yuri Possokhov; Finland’s Jorma Elo, James Kudelka (to music by Rodney Sharman), Margaret Jenkins (to music by Paul Dresher), Paul Taylor (who rarely creates works outside his company), Stanton Welch and Christopher Wheeldon.

One of the Ballet’s six series of subscription programs, called “An International Salute to the San Francisco Ballet,” will be performed by dancers from New York City Ballet, National Ballet of Canada and Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo.

The San Franciscans, in turn, will go on an anniversary national tour, performing in Chicago, New York, Orange County and Washington, D.C.

Joining the company next year will be Maria Kochetkova, from the Bolshoi, as principal dancer; Julianne Kepley, from Atlanta, and Mateo Klemmayer, from Germany via the Birmingham Ballet, as soloists.

Information about the anniversary season and many associated activities is available at www.sfballet.org/at75.

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