Tamara Rojo // © Karolina Kuras
On January 11, SF Ballet appointed Tamara Rojo as its next artistic director,
the first woman to lead the country’s oldest professional ballet company that has balanced an innovative focus on new and contemporary choreography with a deeply held dedication to classical ballet for nine decades. Rojo, a celebrated director, dancer, and choreographer, comes to San Francisco with a depth of experience and a creative vision that will further elevate SF Ballet’s trailblazing role in dance. As artistic director and lead principal at English National Ballet for the past nine and a half years, Rojo has raised the company’s profile through excellence and innovation, garnering awards and accolades, and championing female choreographers.
“I’ve long admired San Francisco Ballet as one of the most creative dance companies in America, offering so many different artistic voices the opportunity to create works for some of the best dancers in the world,” said Rojo. “I’m excited to join SF Ballet to add to the innovative spirit of the company as we reassess what the future of ballet can and should look like, opening the best of what our art form can offer to the widest possible audience.”
Rojo’s tenure as Artistic Director of English National Ballet has featured groundbreaking programming, from recontextualized classics that directly address pertinent social issues—including Rojo’s Raymonda set during the Crimean War and a reimagined Giselle by Bangladeshi choreographer Akram Khan focusing on class inequality—to multiple programs featuring all-female choreographers. Rojo also spearheaded a successful £36-million capital campaign to create a new company headquarters that opened in 2019.
Rojo’s appointment concludes a ten-month international search for a new artistic director led by a committee co-chaired by Board of Trustees members Sunnie Evers and Fran Streets, with input from SF Ballet leadership, staff, dancers, and musicians. Rojo will succeed Helgi Tomasson, who has led SF Ballet for 37 years and will retire after the 2022 Season. “It has been deeply rewarding to help San Francisco Ballet grow and evolve over the past four decades, and to witness the impact we’ve had on both San Francisco and the world of dance” says Tomasson. “I am very excited that a fellow dancer will lead the Company with bold vision and artistry, and I look forward to seeing the innovative ideas that Tamara will bring to SF Ballet. I am confident this company will continue to thrive under her leadership.”