2020 Stars of the Corps: San Francisco Ballet's Alexander Reneff-Olson

October 6, 2020

Like all stellar corps dancers, San Francisco Ballet’s Alexander Reneff-Olson is great at blending in. Despite an imposing 6′ stature, he has a quiet, steady presence that makes him one of the crowd in the Sleeping Beauty polonaise, and just another wave in the sea of John Neumeier’s The Little Mermaid. Yet the San Francisco native deploys a marvelously dramatic side in a growing repertoire that ranges from the wild theatricality of Arthur Pita’s Björk Ballet to a towering—and never campy—Von Rothbart in Swan Lake.

A male ballet dancer, wearing a Puss-in-Boots costume, crouches in front of a female dancer in a cat-themed tutu and headpiece. They move their arms and hands as if they are scratching each other.

Reneff-Olson and Thamires Chuvas in Helgi Tomasson’s The Sleeping Beauty

Erik Tomasson, Courtesy SFB

Reneff-Olson, 29, keeps his roles real by anchoring them in a backstory. “Leading up to a performance, you’ll find me interacting with dancers, crew and staff in full costume, as the character,” he says. “People sometimes think I’ve gone a little mad, but it really helps me to find who that character is.” He brings the same thoughtfulness and commitment to his second career as a photographer and filmmaker. “These creative outlets allow me to share a piece of myself and how I see the world,” he says. “Art is a vehicle for humanity’s darkest and brightest moments, and I feel strongly that it’s a necessity as we navigate these difficult times.”

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