© San Francisco Ballet // Sarah Van Patten and Daniel Deivison-Oliveira in McGregor’s Chroma // © Erik Tomasson

San Francisco Ballet (SF Ballet) today announced its 2024 season filled with premieres, company firsts, and works rarely seen in the United States. Curated by Tamara Rojo, the first woman to lead the trailblazing company and San Francisco Ballet’s first new Artistic Director in nearly four decades, the season centers cross-disciplinary and cross-cultural collaborations, celebrates the artists and histories of San Francisco, and spotlights women’s voices on stage and off. Moreover, it furthers SF Ballet’s longstanding mission to balance innovation in choreography with a deeply held dedication to the classics. Programs include a cutting-edge commission led by the composer Floating Points; world premiere commissions from female choreographers Aszure Barton and Arielle Smith, who, along with Annabelle Lopez Ochoa, will reimagine the myths of Pandora, Carmen, and Frida Kahlo; and two classic British ballets rarely seen by American audiences.

 Programs in the 2024 Repertory Season, taking place at the War Memorial Opera House from January 25–May 5, include:

  • A world premiere SF Ballet commission for orchestra and electronics led by music producer/DJ and composer Floating Points and renowned choreographer Aszure Barton, who will reimagine Pandora’s Box through an immersive sensory experience melding dance, electronic music, and design, brought to life by a global collective of artists;
  • A double bill of Latina chorographers, featuring a world premiere retelling of Carmen from Olivier-award winning choreographer and rising star Arielle Smith, and Annabelle Lopez Ochoa’s Broken Wings, a vibrant and colorful exploration of Frida Kahlo’s life;
  • Kenneth MacMillan’s Song of the Earth and Frederick Ashton’s Marguerite and Armand, two iconic works from the British canon that are rarely performed in the U.S.;
  • Three selections from 2023’s critically acclaimed next@90 festival: Yuri Possokhov’s Violin Concerto, Nicolas Blanc’s Gateway to the Sun, and Danielle Rowe’s MADCAP;
  • Swan Lake, the striking classical ballet set to Tchaikovsky’s iconic score;
  • Balanchine’s whimsical A Midsummer Night’s Dream, which will triumphantly return to the stage—now featuring Christian LaCroix’s design, never-before-seen in the U.S.—after becoming the first major production in the country to shut down in March 2020;
  • The beloved family holiday favorite Nutcracker, set in San Francisco and honoring the company’s legacy as the first to present a full-length production; and
  • Special encore performances, including the return of Swan Lake with featured guest artists.

“The warm welcome I’ve received from the San Francisco community has been truly inspiring. For my first season as Artistic Director, I am inviting a cross-cultural group of exceptional artists to bring their creativity and visions to my new home city,” said Tamara Rojo, Artistic Director of San Francisco Ballet. “From engaging with technology in new and intriguing ways to offering exciting interpretations of two Latina heroines to the creation of new, contemporary scores, this season we will showcase the broad talents of our world-renowned company while expanding what the War Memorial Opera House, its audiences, and ballet itself can look like.”

The repertory season will be presented in the recently renovated War Memorial Opera House. SF Ballet performs with the Grammy Award-winning San Francisco Ballet Orchestra throughout the season, under the direction of Music Director Martin West.

As part of its work to engage with global perspectives, San Francisco Ballet will invite international guest artists Julio Bocca, Ed Watson, Sandy Jennings, and Patrick Armand to teach and work with the company during intensive residencies throughout the season.

In 2024, the company will also launch a new professional development initiative, the SF Ballet ChoreoLab Series, which will open and nurture a dialogue around making work, between visiting artists and emerging choreographers in the company and School. To inaugurate the series, SF Ballet will welcome three world-renowned female choreographers presenting work this season—Aszure Barton, Annabelle Lopez Ochoa, and Arielle Smith—to lead sessions that offer insight into their creative process in an informal, intimate setting. SF Ballet will also partner with San Francisco-based contemporary dance company ODC to include associated artists in ChoreoLab sessions.

Tamara Rojo’s inaugural season is made possible by the generous support of John Osterweis and an anonymous donor.

December 13–30, 2023

SF Ballet will present Helgi Tomasson’s Nutcracker, a Bay Area tradition for the past 19 years. Tomasson’s version, set in San Francisco, builds upon SF Ballet’s legacy as the first American company to present a full-length production in 1944, paving the way for the work to become a holiday classic. The sensory-friendly performance of Nutcracker, which provides a welcoming environment for neurodiverse audiences of all abilities, returns on December 30.

2024 Opening Night Gala
January 24, 2024
San Francisco Ballet will host its 91st Season Opening Night Gala on January 24, 2024. Details to be announced at a later date.

Floating Points and Aszure Barton’s Mere Mortals (World Premiere)
January 26–February 1, 2024

A collective of boundary-pushing artists from around the world and across disciplines, brought together by Tamara Rojo, will recontextualize the classic parable of Pandora’s Box for our modern world in Mere Mortals. This new kind of ballet experience, which marks the first full-length work SF Ballet has commissioned from a female choreographer, will take on the possibilities and consequences brought on by artificial intelligence. The team is spearheaded by composer Floating Points (aka Sam Shepherd), a U.K.-based composer, producer, and DJ known equally for his headlining appearances on the electronic music festival circuit and his contributions to contemporary classical and jazz; and Aszure Barton, the Canadian-born, internationally celebrated choreographer renowned for her innovative and interdisciplinary approach to dance.

An immersive sensory experience will take over the War Memorial Opera House, combining dance, electronic music, visual design, and technology. Design collaborators include Barcelona-based design firm Hamill Industries, whose work emphasizes the visualization of sound with computerized, robotic, and video techniques; and Michelle Jank, one of Australia’s most talented and versatile couture and costume designers who has been a collaborator of Aszure Barton for over a decade.

At each performance, Floating Points will perform his composition live alongside the SF Ballet Orchestra. Further program details, including pre- and post-show activations, and information on the work’s New York premiere in Spring 2024 are forthcoming.

British Icons:

Kenneth MacMillan’s Song of the Earth and Frederick Ashton’s Marguerite and Armand
February 9–15, 2024

British Icons will bring together on one program two of the most important British ballet choreographers, Sir Kenneth MacMillan and Sir Frederick Ashton, whose work is rarely staged in the U.S. and has never been seen in San Francisco. Each ballet offers a striking reflection on the power of love and loss.

MacMillan’s Song of the Earth weaves a story of love, loss, and bittersweet death through poetic and melancholic choreography, along with two live singers accompanying the Mahler song cycle Das Lied von der Erde. MacMillan, the leading choreographer of his time, incorporates influences from Japanese Noh and Kabuki theater in a beautiful, profound reflection on mortality and loneliness.

Ashton’s deeply passionate and lushly designed Marguerite & Armand, with highly coveted principal roles originally created for ballet superstars Rudolf Nureyev and Margot Fonteyn—who famously performed with SF Ballet’s company during the “Summer of Love” in 1967—will make a rare U.S. appearance in SF Ballet’s program as only the second American company to perform this work.

Swan Lake
February 23–March 3, 2024
The quintessential classical ballet, Swan Lake made its U.S. premiere at SF Ballet in 1940, where it has remained an integral part of the company’s history. Created by former Artistic Director of SF Ballet, Helgi Tomasson’s striking Swan Lake includes sleek set and costume designs by Tony Award winner Jonathan Fensom and is performed to Tchaikovsky’s iconic and sweeping score. It offers a rich interpretive and choreographic challenge in the dual role of innocent Odette and flamboyantly malevolent Odile.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream
March 12–March 23, 2024
George Balanchine’s first original full-length ballet that was quickly hailed as a masterpiece, A Midsummer Night’s Dream was last performed by SF Ballet in March 2020; its run was cut short after only one opening night performance, becoming the first major production in the country to shut down in advance of the Covid-19 pandemic. This whimsical story ballet and Shakespearean classic will make its triumphant return to the San Francisco stage, now with opulent costumes and stage design by French haute couture designer Christian LaCroix, which has only been seen in the Paris Opera Ballet’s production and will make an appearance on the U.S. stage for the first time.

next@90 Curtain Call
Yuri Possokhov’s Piano Concerto | Nicolas Blanc’s Gateway to the Sun | Danielle Rowes MADCAP
April 2–13, 2024 (in repertory with Program 6)
The season’s fifth program will bring back three highlights from 2022’s next@90 festival, which all emulate excellence in choreography and have artistic ties to the SF Ballet community:

Violin Concerto by SF Ballet’s Choreographer in Residence Yuri Possokhov, a homage to George Balanchine with a fresh interpretation of Igor Stravinsky’s 1931 score, which captures Possokhov’s decidedly contemporary perspective on classical dance vocabulary while showing off the steely technique and emotional breadth of SF Ballet’s dancers;

Gateway to the Sun by Nicolas Blanc, former SF Ballet principal dancer and current choreographer at The Joffrey Ballet, which offers a poetic five-movement abstract ballet inspired by a Rumi poem and set to an exquisite contemporary score by Anna Clyne; and

MADCAP by Danielle Rowe, a frequent SF Ballet collaborator whose theatrical and bombastic feat of storytelling invites audiences into the sinister world of clowns after the circus lights go dark, elevated by eerie, carnival-inspired music and dancer vocalizations.

Dos Mujeres: Arielle Smith’s Carmen (World Premiere) & Annabelle Lopez Ochoa’s Broken Wings (North American Premiere)
April 4–14, 2024 (in repertory with Program 6)

SF Ballet will present Dos Mujeres, an exploration of Latina womanhood that marks the company’s first double-bill of female choreographers and its first program dedicated to Latinx stories.

The program will begin with a world premiere commission and reinterpretation of Carmen by rising star Arielle Smith, a Havana-born, London-based choreographer who was recently awarded an Olivier for Outstanding Achievement in Dance and named “One to Watch” by The Guardian in 2022. Revisiting the story’s original themes, Carmen will restore agency to the iconic heroine, accompanied by Smith’s boundary-pushing, cinematic approach to choreography and the colors and sounds of Cuba, brought to life by a newly commissioned score by Grammy Award-winning jazz composer and pianist Arturo O’Farrill that incorporates Cuban folk music.

Carmen will be complemented by Annabelle Lopez Ochoa’s Broken Wings, a vibrant, colorful exploration of the life and surrealist art of Frida Kahlo, who lived in San Francisco in the early period of her career. Featuring an original score interwoven with mariachi and Mexican folk music and a chorus of skeletons, Broken Wings offers a unique opportunity to enter the realms of Kahlo’s paintings through the lens of her wildly creative spirit.

Subscription and Single Tickets
2023 Season Principal Series subscribers can renew their subscription packages today. Six program subscription packages to SF Ballet’s 2024 Season range in price from $132 to $2,514 and go on sale to the public later this summer. Individual tickets for SF Ballet’s 2024 Season, starting at $29, will be available in the fall of 2023. Visit sfballet.org or call Ticket Services, Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 415-865-2000.

This article is published here courtesy of San Francisco Ballet