previous newsletter
current newsletter

Spring 2000 Newsletter from San Francisco


San Francisco Ballet presented its Discovery Program [forum], consisting of new ballets by "up-and-coming" choreographers Julia Adam, David Palmer, Yuri Possokhov, Christopher Stowell, Christopher Wheeldon and Vladimir Anguelov. Artistic Director Helgi Tomasson announced the Program with the intention of "nurturing creativity and providing our artists with ambitious challenges." For the first time, SFB presented the second act of Natalia Makarova’s production of La Bayadère, the third act of Rudolf Nureyev’s staging of Raymonda, and George Balanchine’s Symphony in Three Movements. The season also included the return of Tomasson’s full-length productions of Giselle and Romeo & Juliet.

San Francisco Ballet corps de ballet dancer Amanda Schull appeared as the star of the Columbia Pictures movie Center Stage [forum]. Movie-goers have generally regarded the movie's dancing as terrific, but the acting as weak, which is to be expected of a dance movie that cast professional dancers, not actors, in the dance roles. Center Stage was filmed on location in Manhattan and features famous New York dance landmarks such as American Ballet Theater, but to find the star who could credibly dance ballet, salsa, and Broadway while acting better than most critics, the talent scouts had to come to San Francisco.

Faced with the high cost of Bay Area real estate that has made artists' space prohibitively expensive, local artists are petitioning the City of San Francisco to preserve affordable real estate for select non-profits in the city's Mission district fine arts community [forum]. One affected dance company is LINES Contemporary Ballet, faced with a 250% rent increase for the rehearsal space they have occupied for the past fifteen years. Last year, property problems caused the demise of San Francisco's popular Brady Street Dance Center.

Oakland Ballet hired former Dance Theater of Harlem principal dancer Karen Brown as their new Artistic Director [forum]. Brown replaced Acting Artistic Director Joral Schmalle, who is now with Smuin Ballets/SF.

Santa Clara Ballet performed in May a collection of repertoire works in a tribute to their late founder and Artistic Director Benjamin Reyes, who died in November 1999.

ODC/San Francisco choreographer Brenda Way was awarded the prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship for her 1999 work Investigating Grace, which premiered on January 22, 1999 in Neuss, Germany. The work also won an Isadora Duncan Award. Dancer Shannon Mitchell retired after ten years with ODC/San Francisco [forum].

The 1998-1999 winners of the "Izzies," the Isadora Duncan Dance Awards, were announced at a ceremony at the San Francisco Performing Arts Library and Museum on April 24, 2000 [forum]. The full list of nominees and winners in all categories is available on the Izzies web site. Following are winners in the choreography and performance categories:

  • Choreography - BRENDA WAY, Investigating Grace, ODC/San Francisco
  • Individual Performance - TINA LE BLANC, entire season, San Francisco Ballet
  • Ensemble Performancce - EVELYN CISNEROS and STEPHEN LEGATE, Rubies, choreography by George Balanchine, San Francisco Ballet. JOE GOODE and WILIS BIGELOW, excerpt from Deeply There, choreography by Joe Goode, performance at the San Francisco Lesbian and Gay Dance Festival.
  • Company Performance - MARGARET JENKINS DANCE COMPANY, Fault, choreography by Margaret Jenkins and Ellie Klopp
  • Revival/Restaging/Reconstruction - DIVERSION OF ANGELS, restaging by MARNI THOMAS, University Dance Theater, University of California, Berkeley; original choreography by Martha Graham.

Not everyone was happy about the Isadora Duncan Dance Awards. In an April 23 article, San Francisco Examiner dance critic Allan Ulrich described them as, "The self-aggrandizing Isadora Duncan Dance Awards, an apples-and-oranges ritual that sets the talented competing with the charlatans." [forum]

Previous Isadora Duncan Award-winning choreographer Enrico Labayen celebrates his company's tenth anniversary with the July production of Le Sacre du Printemps.

Diablo Ballet will open their next season at Yerba Buena Center in September 2000 [forum]. Highlights of the Walnut Creek-based company's 1999-2000 season included the world premiere of They've Lost Their Footing by KT Nelson, co-Artistic Director of ODC/San Francisco, set to a series of folk rock songs by the Swedish band, "Hoven Droven." [forum] Diablo Ballet's efforts to bring ballet to the public resulted in sold out performances and critical acclaim on tour this past season in Palm Springs, San Luis Obispo and Reno, Nevada, Dance Development programs that provide outreach for 20,000 children a year in needy areas where access to the arts has been limited or virtually nonexistent, and an annual free outdoor concert.

San Jose Cleveland Ballet celebrated its fifteenth anniversary with a world premier of Don Quixote and Swan Lake [forum], both choreographed by Dennis Nahat, the all-Beethoven program Celebration & Ode, and the company's annual repertory program [forum] with works choreographed by Dennis Nahat, Karen Gabay, Tom Evert, Oscar Hawkins, and Grethel Domingo. San Jose Cleveland Ballet principal dancer Olivier Muñoz danced his fourteenth and final season with the company. He has signed contracts to perform in London and Milan, and will teach at Washington Ballet and Maryland Ballet.

Former soloist of the internationally acclaimed Jose Limon Dance Company, Emilie Plauche Flink, joins the Dance Faculty of Stanford University as a guest lecturer for 2000-2001.

Michael Phelan
Bay Dance

Please join us in our forum for a discussion of the above news events or click on any of the [forum] links above for the corresponding topic.

Edited by Azlan Ezaddin

Submit press releases to

For information, corrections and questions, please contact