William Esper Studio

INTERVIEWS with ARTISTS

BRIAN COX

NICOLE ANSARI

DAVID SHINER

DAVID GREENSPAN

BILL D'ELIA

FYVUSH FINKEL

LYLE KESSLER

JENNIFER FOUCHÉ

SHELDON EPPS

MYRIAM CYR

JIM SEALES

ROBERT STAFFANSON

IAN FINKEL

WILLIAM S. YELLOWROBE, JR.

EDDIE MARTIN

PETER JENSEN

TIM STEVENSON

Spotlight On

The Queens Studio


Articles

Rose Bruford College of Theatre and Performance - London’s International Drama School

Washington, D.C.'s Studio Theatre

San Francisco Ballet

Grand Ball in the Belle Epoch - Edwardian Period Style Salon Workshop

Keegan Theatre

Pan Asian Repertory Theatre Celebrates its 39th Anniversary

MetroStage Theatre

Swine Palace Theatre

Asolo Repertory Theatre

Ontological-Hysteric Theatre

Amelia Community Theatre

Discovering Lunt & Fontanne

Harlem Repertory Theatre

Santa Fe Playhouse

Opera Colorado

National Hispanic Cultural Center

Red Eagle Soaring Native Youth Theatre

Lorraine Hansberry Theatre

Coatlicue Theater Company

London's Finborough Theatre

New Repertory Theatre in Boston

The Work of Yat Malmgren: Christopher Fettes’ New Book “A Peopled Labyrinth”

Terry Knickerbocker Studio in New York City

 

 

Ronald Rand in Let It Be Art

“To flourish, society depends on a strong cultural heritage as well as innovation. The challenge is to breathe new life into the arts. Creativity is at the heart of every successful nation. It finds expression in great visual art, wonderful music, fabulous performances, stunning writing, gritty new productions and countless other media. Giving form to our innate human creativity is what defines us to ourselves and the world.
This is what the arts have always done. The lasting value and evidence of a civilization are its artistic output and the ingenuity that comes from applying creativity to the whole range of human endeavor. What is education if it doesn't teach our children to think creatively and innovatively? What use is a robust economy unless it is within an innovative country that can attract and stimulate the world? How can good governance exist without a population that is engaged, educated and able to form its own opinions?”  Excerpt from an essay, “Reviving a creative nation,”
 – by Cate Blanchett and Julianne Schultz, April 16, 2008, For the Creative Australia Stream at the 2020 Summit

“Simply think the words.”
— Goethe

“Action is the direct agent of the heart.”
— Delsarte

“The supreme goal of the theatre is truth, the ultimate truth of the soul.”
— Max Reinhardt

“Through the unity of reason and emotion, of spirituality and affection and sensation, the actor will discover his creative genius for the stage – the art of acting.”
— Erwin Piscator

“The artist-actor unveils his inner soul.”
— Eleonora Duse

“Living is a process. Acting is the act of laying oneself bare, of fearing off the mask of daily life, of exteriorizing oneself.  It is a serious and solemn act of revelation. It is like a step towards the summit of the actor’s organism in which are united consciousness and instinct.”
— Jerzy Grotowski

“Let us find our way to the unknown, the intuitive, and perhaps beyond to man’s spirit itself.. “
— Viola Spolin

San Francisco Ballet

Founded in 1933, San Francisco Ballet was first the San Francisco Opera Ballet under the leadership of ballet master, Adolph Bolm. Currently, it’s home is in the War Memorial Opera House in San Francisco, under the direction of Helgi Tomasson. San Francisco Ballet was the first professional ballet company in the United States. It is among the world's leading dance companies, presenting over a hundred performances annually, with a repertoire that spans both classical and contemporary ballet. Along with American Ballet Theatre and the New York City Ballet, San Francisco Ballet has been described as part of the “triumvirate of great classical companies defining the American style on the world stage today.

William Christensen, Harold Chistensen and Lew Christensen are considered by many to have done more than anyone else to establish ballet in the United States. Born into an artistic and musical family, the three brothers studied folk dance and ballet from early ages and were part of the famous vaudeville Orpheum Circuit during the 1920’s and 1930’s, bringing to Americans across the country ballet for the first time with their act “The Christ Brothers.”

Swan Lake

When vaudeville faded, in 1935 Harold and Lew joined George Balanchine’s new company, the American Ballet. Three years earlier, Willam formed a ballet school in Portland, Oregon, and then in 1937, he was engaged as principal male soloist by San Francisco Opera Ballet. He became the company’s ballet master and choreographer in 1938. With his brother, Harold, he purchased the company from the Opera in 1942, and renamed it the San Francisco Ballet.

In 1951, Willam retired as director of the San Francisco Ballet and moved to Utah, where he started teaching ballet in the country’s first university ballet department at the University of Utah. With a group of his students, he founded the Utah Civic Ballet, now known as Ballet West Ballet West, in 1963.

Under Balanchine’s tutelage at American Ballet, Lew Christensen became the first American-born danseur noble. After World War II ended and having completed his tour of duty, he joined Balanchine’s and Lincoln Kirstein’s Ballet Society, which would become the New York City Ballet, eventually becoming ballet master. In 1951, he joined his brother Willam as co-director of San Francisco Ballet.

Hummingbird

In 1938, the company's first major productions included Coppélia, choreographed by Willam Christensen; in 1940, Swan Lake, the first time that the ballet was produced in its entirety by an American company; and on Christmas Eve,1944, Nutcracker, the first complete production ever danced in the United States.

In 1957, the San Francisco Ballet was the first American ballet company to tour the Far East, performing in 11 Asian nations. In 1972, San Francisco's War Memorial Opera House was named the official residence of San Francisco Ballet. In 1973, Michael Smuin became co-artistic director of San Francisco Ballet with Lew Christensen; Smuin had danced with the Company from 1953 to 1961. Under his direction, the San Francisco’s productions included “Romeo and Juliet,” aired on the PBS series, “Great Performances: Dance in America in 1978, marking the first time that a West Coast ballet company, and a full-length ballet, was shown on the PBS TV series. Other televised ballets included “The Tempest,” and “A Song for Dead Warriors.”

The Nutcracker

In 1985, Helgi Tomasson became artistic director, and under  direction, San Francisco Ballet has been recognized as one of the most innovative ballet companies in the world due to its early and frequent commissioning of new works by aspiring choreographers around the globe, the breadth of its repertory, spanning classical ballet, neoclassical ballet, and contemporary ballet, and the diversity of its company members. Ms. Tomasson has staged acclaimed full-length productions including “Swan Lake,” “The Sleeping Beauty,” “Romeo and Juliet,” “Giselle,” “Don Quixote” co-staged with former principal dancer and current choreographer in-residence Yuri Possokhov, and “Nutcracker.”

Trio

Today, San Francisco Ballet presents approximately 100 performances each year. The company’s diverse repertory includes works by Sir, Frederick Ashton, George Balanchine, David Bintley, August Bournonville, Van Caniparoli, Lew Christensen, Nacho Duato, Jorma Elo, William Forsythe, James Kudelda, Jiri Lylian, Serge Lifar, Lar Lubovitch, Wayne McGregor, Agnes de Mille, Sir Kenneth MacMillan, Hans van Manen, Peter Martins, Mark Morris, Rusolf Nureyev, Marius Petipa, Roland Petit, Yuri Possokhov, Alexei Ratmansky, Jerome Robbins, Laim Scarlett, Paul Taylor, Helgi Tomasson, Anthony Tudor and Christopher Wheeldon.

In May 1995, San Francisco Ballet hosted 12 ballet companies from around the world for United We Dance: An International Festival. The festival commemorated the 50th anniversary of the signing of the United Nations charter, which took place at the San Francisco War Memorial and performing Arts Center.

Within the Golden Hour

San Francisco Ballet has also performed frequently overseas tours, including engagements at the famed Opera de Paris-Palais Garnier in Paris, London’s Sadler’s Wells Theatre, Royal Opera House in Covent Garden, Athens’ Megaron Theatre, Herod Atticus Amphitheatre, Copenhagen’s Tivoli Gardens, and the Edinburgh Playhouse in the Edinburgh International Festival. In 2009, the San Francisco Ballet made its first trip to the People’s Republic of China, with performances in Shanghai and Beijing. The company has received many awards including the Laurence Olivier Award, in the category of Outstanding Achievement in Dance.

San Francisco Ballet programs for 2016 include: Program 1 (Jan. 24-Feb. 5): North American premiere of William Forsythe’s incendiary 1999 “Pas/Parts;” “Magrittomania;” Yuri Possokhov’s first ballet for the company; an homage to Belgian surrealist painter René Magritte; and Helgi Tomasson’s “7 for Eight,” a multi-movement, Bach-inspired chamber work for eight outstanding dancers. Program 2 (Jan 27-Feb. 6): the premiere of Liam Scarlett’s “Fearful Symmetries,” based on John Adams’ orchestral essay; Mark Morris’ “Drink to Me Only with Thine Eyes,” set to Virgil Thomson piano music; and Igor Stravinsky’s “Rubies,” the central panel of George Balanchine’s full-evening “Jewels.” Program 3 (Feb. 19-28): and Tomasson’s production of “Swan Lake” by Jonathan Fensom with the Grammy Award-winning San Francisco Ballet Orchestra. Program 4 (March 8-13):  Léo Delibes version of “Coppélia.” Program 5 (March 16-22):  Jerome Robbins’ “Dances at a Gathering;” and Possokhov’s “Swimmer.” Program 6 (April 5-16): Alexei Ratmansky’s “Seven Sonatas;” Tomasson’s “Prism;” and Wheeldon “Rush.” Program 7 (April 7-17): Premiere of “In the Countenance of Kings;” Chrisopher Wheeldon’s “Continuum,” set to the music of Ligeti; opens the festivities; and Balanchine’s classic “Theme and Variations.” Program 8 (April 30-May 8): John Cranko’s “Onegin”

For info:  www.sfballet.org, (415) 861-5600, War Memorial Opera House 301 Van Ness Ave. San Francisco, CA, tickets@sfballet.org


 


"It is a law of life that man cannot live for himself alone. Extreme individualism is insanity. The world's problems are also our personal problems. Health is achieved through maintaining our personal truth in a balanced relation of love to the rest of the world. No expression is more emblematic of this relation than the creative act which we call art. No art by its very constitution typifies the social nature of that creative act more than the theatre. The theatre, to be fully understood and appreciated, must be seen as a manifestation of this process of interchange between society and the individual. It must be judged as a continuous development of groups of individuals within society, a development which becomes richer, acquires greater force and value as it grows with the society in which it originates. Only in this way can the theatre nourish us.  - Harold Clurman

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