Five Facts: Shostakovich Trilogy


Alexei Ratmansky’s full-evening work Shostakovich Trilogy is an emotionally charged tribute to the great Russian composer, Dmitri Shostakovich. Described as an abstract story ballet for the 21st Century, the San Francisco Chronicle said, “Every moment feels like a fragment of a masterpiece.” This groundbreaking work returns to the War Memorial Opera House after an overwhelmingly successful run last season. Here are five facts about this electrifying program:

1. Shostakovich Trilogy is a deeply personal ballet for choreographer Alexei Ratmansky. It pays homage to both Shostakovich and Ratmansky’s experiences living in Russia under Stalin, as well as experiences he had later in life. You can see references to these periods in Russian history reflected in many of the production’s design elements. These references can be found in the obvious use of the revolutionary red and the hammer and sickle in the backdrop.

Yuan Yuan Tan and Maria Kochetkova in Ratmansky's Shostakovich Trilogy. (© Erik Tomasson)

Yuan Yuan Tan and Maria Kochetkova in Ratmansky’s Shostakovich Trilogy.
(© Erik Tomasson)

2. George Tyspin, the scenic designer for Shostakovich Trilogyalso designed the Opening Ceremonies for the 2014 Sochi Olympics. Read More »

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ENCORE! Diary: In Conversation with Christopher Stowell


ENCORE! board member Ishara Kotagama spent some time with San Francisco Ballet’s dynamic new ballet master Christopher Stowell a few days before the company’s extraordinary 82nd season began, to discuss what makes ballet so alluring, what has influenced his choices as both dancer and mentor, and what being a part of San Francisco Ballet in 2015 means to him.

Christopher Stowell leads company class. (© Erik Tomasson)

Christopher Stowell leads company class.
(© Erik Tomasson)

Did you always know that you wanted to be a dancer? What influenced you?

My parents were dancers with the New York City Ballet. So I grew up around ballet. But I didn’t want to be a dancer until I started performing in Nutcracker when I was a child. I liked performing, though I wasn’t too crazy about taking ballet class.

Then over time the challenges of classical technique (which don’t seem interesting when you are 11), when you get older you start understanding more about. Generally when I feel I am good at something, I am very engaged by it. So when I realized that I had an aptitude for dancing, it really grabbed me.

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Carlo Di Lanno Wins The Erik Bruhn Prize


This week, Soloist Carlo Di Lanno was named best male dancer at the Eleventh International Competition for the Erik Bruhn Prize in Toronto, Canada. Di Lanno performed with Corps de Ballet member WanTing Zhao, dancing the Act III wedding pas de deux from SF Ballet Artistic Director & Principal Choreographer Helgi Tomasson’s The Sleeping Beauty and a contemporary piece, Frayed, by Corps de Ballet member Myles Thatcher.


WanTing Zhao and Carlo Di Lanno in Thatcher’s Frayed. (Photo: Bruce Zinger, courtesy of The National Ballet of Canada)


Established in 1988, The Erik Bruhn Prize highlights the talent of young professional dancers between the ages of 18 and 23.  The prize is part of Bruhn’s legacy, and as he said in his own words, it was “created so that it might be awarded regularly to two young dancers, male and female, who ‘reflect such technical ability, artistic achievement and dedication as I endeavoured to bring to dance.’ ” This year’s competitors included dancers from The National Ballet of Canada, Boston Ballet, The Hamburg Ballet, Royal Danish Ballet, and San Francisco Ballet. Helgi Tomasson noted, “It was an honor to be included in this year’s competition and a pleasure to see such talented young dancers from around the world.” Read More »

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#DonQBackstage #FollowFrances


For SF Ballet Principal Dancer Frances Chung’s first Don Quixote performance of the season, we were backstage with her every step of the way. This series follows Frances through her performance day, from Company class, to her dressing room and then into the wings and on to the Opera House stage. If you are interested in more backstage snaps, find us on Instagram.

12:30pm – First things first: Company class on stage. At the ballet, every day begins with class to warm up the body and prepare for the day of dancing ahead. Ballet Master, Felipe Diaz, leading the exercises.

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12:45pm – Frances Chung has a long day ahead of her dancing the lead, Kitri, in Don Quixote. Here she pauses to prepare her pointe shoes and get ready for the center portion of class.

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1pm - In the hour before the show, Frances does her hair and stage makeup in her dressing room as she mentally prepares for her performance. Read More »

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