SF Ballet switching to online subscription model for 2021 season

San Francisco Ballet, SF Ballet, Swan Lake, Yuan Yuan Tan, Tiit Helimets, Helgi Tomasson

Yuan Yuan Tan and Tiit Helimets in Tomasson’s Swan Lake. Courtesy: Erik Tomasson/San Francisco Ballet.

The San Francisco Ballet, which had previously announced a delayed 2021 season at the War Memorial Opera House, has shifted to a streaming model with new performances and debuts that will be filmed live and broadcasted online.

The “digital season” will include world premieres of three new works by choreographers Cathy Marston, Danielle Rowe and Myles Thatcher, as well as “Swan Lake” and George Balanchine’s “Emeralds.” It begins on Jan. 21 with “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” which closed the 2020 season after one performance before the city-wide shutdown due to COVID-19. There will also be a full-production feature film of “The Nutcracker” and accompanying online family experience, airing from Nov. 27 to Dec. 31.

The company will be selling multiple packages to watch the performances.

SF Ballet Artistic Director and Principal Choreographer Helgi Tomasson has said that reimagining the season has taken “monumental effort.” Dancers returned to the studio to work together in preparation just this week.

“For the dancers, it has meant a new level of commitment to keep up with their dancing physicality and has also required paramount discipline with regard to social distancing in order to rehearse according to health guidelines,” he said. “The choreographers I’ve engaged this season have also been extraordinarily creative and adaptable, from changing rehearsal configurations, to working with film directors to present their work in a different format.”



Executive Director Kelly Tweeddale said the company had to ensure dancer and worker safety, as well as that of the audience. Tweeddale said she chose the Vimeo OTT platform for streaming for its user-friendly interface and high definition streaming quality. It can be watched on smart TVs, streaming service providers like Roxy and Apple TV, mobile apps and computers.

The “Premium Plus Digital Package with VIP bonus content” will go on sale. on Nov. 17 for $289. It offers a three-week access to each program stream, behind-the-scenes content and program notes, a printed season guide and 20 percent off the price of “Nutcracker Online.” Single program streams go on sale Jan. 21, 2021 and will be priced at $34 for 24-hour access.

The 2021 digital season will also include Helgi Tomasson’s “Romeo & Juliet,” a new work from Myles Thatcher, Cathy Marston’s “Mrs. Robinson” and Danielle Rowe’s “Wooden Dimes,” among numerous other works.

“Nutcracker” was previously announced as not returning this winter. Instead, it will return as an immersive film experience of a 2007 taping. It will be made available for $49 for a 48-hour access.

There will also be an online fundraiser on Jan. 14 also curated by Tomasson. It will include gourmet home-delivered dinners from McCalls Catering & Events, gifts and wine; a virtual performance, meet-and-greets with artists and more.

Proceeds from the benefit will aid several of SF Ballet’s artistic initiatives, including new works, scholarships for San Francisco Ballet School students and community education programs for youth, families and seniors. Tickets start at $5,000 for a Virtual Table of 10 and will go on sale Nov. 17. For more information, email specialevents@sfballet.org or call 415-865-6629.

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