Celebrating 90 Years of San Francisco Ballet

The 2023 Season marked the 90th anniversary of San Francisco Ballet, the oldest professional ballet company in the United States. Since it was founded as the San Francisco Opera Ballet in 1933, SF Ballet has been a pioneer for ballet in America, making history by staging the first full-length American productions of Coppélia (1938), Swan Lake (1940), and Nutcracker (1944). This online exhibit looks at various aspects of SF Ballet's vast history, from the early SF Opera Ballet days to this historic anniversary, that have made SF Ballet a unique and dynamic company that continues to innovate and evolve as we look ahead to the next 90 years of ballet 

This online exhibit is arranged as follows as follows:

The World Beyond The Stage

To begin, as we look ahead to the future of ballet with the next@90 festival, this section looked at all aspects involved to bring these productions to life. The first section of the online exhibit features a selection of images offering a glimpse into what happens behind the scenes and the creative teams that bring these productions to life. The installation also highlights SF Ballet's Grammy Award-winning orchestra, now celebrating its 48th season.   

Evanescent Ballets in SF Ballet's 90-Year History

As the Company presented Helgi Tomasson's Giselle, one of the greatest Romantic ballets, which tells the poignant tale of a peasant girl with a gentle heart and a passion for dance whose life was tragically cut short, this section features a sample of unique ballets by visiting and local choreographers that were only performed by the Company once in the season it premiered in throughout SF Ballet’s history to date. These ballets include works from the Company's earliest days as the San Francisco Opera Ballet (1933-1942), past Gala performances, and other repertory premieres.

A Choregrapher's Company: Choreographic Workshops from 1960-1973

In conjunction with SF Ballet's program The Colors of Dance, this section featured select works by SF Ballet Company members. These include images from the annual choreographic workshops from 1960 through 1973, featuring new works choreographed by then-current members of SF Ballet. These workshops and various festivals that followed throughout the years have allowed SF Ballet dancers various opportunities to create new and unique works on their fellow Company members and across the globe. We also feature works by current Company members set on the pre-professional Trainees in the SF Ballet School including COLORFORMS choreographer Myles Thatcher. 

Cinderella: A Timeless Classic

For the story ballets closing out the 90th anniversary season, we revisit past SF Ballet productions of these works from other choreographers. This section features a selection of images from Lew Christensen and Michael Smuin's Cinderella, which premiered in 1973.   

The Timeless Romance of Romeo and Juliet

The last section to close out the 90th anniversary season features select images from past productions of Romeo and Juliet choreographed by Willam Christensen (1938) and Michael Smuin (1976). 

The exhibit is in partnership with San Francisco Ballet and it is sponsored in part by a grant from Grants for the Arts.