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San Francisco Ballet’s (SF Ballet) 90th anniversary season continues with the return of Helgi Tomasson’s Giselle (1999), including ten performances from Friday, February 24 through March 5. America’s oldest ballet company, SF Ballet first presented Giselle in 1947, and it was last seen at SF Ballet in 2015. The ballet includes a story of betrayal, love, death, and rebirth and its famous second act featuring a chorus of ghostly maidens.

San Francisco Ballet rehearsing Tomasson’s Giselle // © Reneff-Olson Productions

Giselle offers a chance for dancers from SF Ballet’s multinational roster to debut in and return to the lead roles of Giselle and Albrecht—roles which remain significant to SF Ballet Artistic Director Tamara Rojo, who most recently danced Akram Kahn’s Giselle in 2022, and previous Artistic Director Helgi Tomasson. “The whole Act 2 is a work of art like no other—the spirituality of it,” says Rojo about the character’s transformation from human to Willi. “Very rarely, as a human body made of flesh, is a performer asked to inhabit the uninhabitable.” Similarly, Tomasson danced Albrecht in four productions of Giselle with four companies before creating his own version on SF Ballet in 1999, which expands Albrecht’s dance sections and adds a first act solo to choreography by Marius Petipa, Jules Perrot, and Jean Coralli.

Misa Kuranaga and Angelo Greco in the Act II pas de deux from Tomasson’s Giselle // © Quinn Wharton

Giselle premiered at Paris Opera Ballet in 1841 and is considered one of the most significant surviving classical story ballets of all time. The score is by Adolphe Adam, who also composed Le Corsaire. Tomasson’s Giselle includes scenic, costume, and lighting design by Danish artist Mikael Melbye.

Giselle casting is available here and the synopsis is available hereGiselle tickets start at $29 and may be purchased online at sfballet.org or by calling 415-865-2000, Monday through Friday from 10 am to 4 pm Pacific. 

Yuan Yuan Tan and Tiit Helimets in Tomasson’s Giselle // © Erik Tomasson

SF Ballet’s 90th anniversary season continues with The Colors of Dance (March 14 ̶ 19) featuring the stage premiere of Myles Thatcher’s COLORFORMS; Christopher Wheeldon’s Cinderella (March 31 ̶ April 8); and Tomasson’s Romeo & Juliet (April 21 ̶ 30).


February 24
February 25
February 26
February 28
March 1
March 2
March 4
March 5
8 pm
2 pm, 8 pm
2 pm
7:30 pm
7:30 pm
7:30 pm
2 pm, 8 pm
2 pm

Choreographer: Helgi Tomasson after Marius Petipa, Jules Perrot, and Jean Coralli
Composer: Adolphe Adam, with additional music, orchestrations, and arrangements by Friedrich Burgmüller, Ludwig Minkus, and Emil de Cou
Production: Helgi Tomasson
Scenic, Costume, and Lighting Design: Mikael Melbye
Assistant Lighting Designer: Lisa J. Pinkham
Assistant to the Choreographer: Lola de Avila

World Premiere (complete ballet): June 28, 1841—Paris Opéra Ballet, Théâtre de l’Académie Royale de Musique; Paris, France

San Francisco Ballet Premiere (Tomasson production): April 8, 1999—War Memorial Opera House; San Francisco, California

Misa Kuranaga in the Act II pas de deux from Tomasson’s Giselle // © Quinn Wharton

San Francisco Ballet is one of the world’s leading ballet companies. As a commissioner, collaborator, and presenter, the Ballet performs locally, nationally, and internationally with the top choreographers, artists, and dancers while proudly celebrating its trailblazing role in dance. Since its founding in 1933 as the first professional ballet company in the United States, the organization has been an innovator in dance and an originator of well-loved cultural traditions, from staging the first American production of Swan Lake to being the first company in the United States to present an annual holiday Nutcracker. In the progressive, innovative spirit of San Francisco, its mission is to share the beauty of classical and contemporary ballet, the joyful, transformative experience of dance performance by artists working at the highest caliber, and to provide exceptional training opportunities for the next generation of professional dancers in its School.

San Francisco Ballet rehearsing Tomasson’s Giselle // © Reneff-Olson Productions


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