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January 29, 2019

S.F. Ballet Opening Night Gala 2019

Isaac Hernandez and Yuan Yuan Tan
Photo by Drew Altizer
Komal Shah
Photo by Drew Altizer
Mathilde Froustey and Mourad Lahlou
Photo by Drew Altizer
Yurie Pascarella
Photo by Drew Altizer
Chrisa Pappas
Photo by Drew Altizer
OJ Shansby
Photo by Drew Altizer
Allison Speer
Photo by Drew Altizer
Barbara Brown and Riccardo Benavides
Photo by Drew Altizer
Mary Beth Shimmon
Photo by Drew Altizer
Dede Wilsey
Photo by Drew Altizer
Helgi Tomasson and Marlene Tomasson
Photo by Drew Altizer
A bird's-eye view of the 2019 S.F. Ballet Gala
Photo by Drew Altizer
Carolyn Chang
Photo by Drew Altizer

Ballet fans love a gala, and they celebrated the opening night of San Francisco Ballet’s 2019 season on Wednesday, January 23, with an elegant black-tie dinner in the rotunda at City Hall, followed by a dazzling performance of repertoire from the new season at the opera house, and post-show revelries.

Onstage at the opera house, before the entertainment, Dede Wilsey was awarded the Lew Christensen Medal for her five decades of patronage and service to the company. “I’ve always loved San Francisco Ballet, and I’ve been involved since I first arrived in San Francisco in 1965 and I was invited to join the auxiliary,” said Wilsey, who shared the stage with board chairman Carl Pascarella. “I even started the Tutu Fund to make sure the dancers had the most beautiful tutus. I love classical ballets.” Wilsey recently funded a new dormitory for S.F. Ballet students.

The evening’s program included two world premieres, with an exquisite pas de deux, “UnSaid,” by Bay Area choreographer Danielle Rowe, featuring principal dancers Aaron Robison and Sofiane Sylve. Also on the program were two of artistic director Helgi Tomasson’s works, “Soirée Musicale” and a pas de deux from his 1989 Handel — A Celebration, an exhilarating display of neoclassical movement.

An excerpt from Justin Peck’s new Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming was set to the music of electronic band M83 and inspired in part by walking through S.F., with dancers performing in sneakers.

The 2019 season’s stylistic diversity promises to entice fans of both edgy free-form ballets and the classics. Highlights of the season include Snowblind, a new ballet by choreographer Cathy Marston; the company premiere of Benjamin Millepied’s Appassionata (which received rave reviews when it premiered in Paris); and audience favorites like Don Quixote, Justin Peck’s Rodeo: Four Dance Episodes, and Alexei Ratmansky’s Shostakovich Trilogy.

Also in attendance were Coralie Langston-Jones, Komal Shah, Charlotte Shultz, Matthew Shilvock, Nancy Bechtle, Bob Hill, Nicola Miner, Mary Beth Shimmon and Deepa Pakianathan.

Written by Diane Dorrans Saeks

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