Tamara Rojo Named Next Artistic Director of San Francisco Ballet
San Francisco Ballet has just announced that Tamara Rojo will become its next artistic director, following the retirement of Helgi Tomasson, who steps down at the end of this season after 37 years. Rojo will move to San Francisco with her husband, Isaac Hernández, who will be joining SFB as a principal after previously dancing there; she will take the reins at the end of 2022.
Rojo comes to SFB from English National Ballet, where she has been widely acclaimed for her leadership; since 2012 she has served as both artistic director and lead principal. Dance Magazine honored her with a Dance Magazine Award last month, and she was recently referred to as “the most powerful woman in ballet” by the UK newspaper The Times in a news story about her reconstruction of the Petipa classic Raymonda, premiering January 18.
According to Dance Data Project, SFB has the second largest budget of any U.S. ballet company (behind only New York City Ballet), and will now become the biggest with a sole female artistic director. As DDP research lead Michayla Kelly points out in response to Rojo’s appointment, “This has the potential to lessen the gender wage gap in U.S. ballet artistic directors and shift the landscape of ballet in the U.S.”
A former star of The Royal Ballet, the Spanish ballerina initially made a name for herself with her impeccable technique and magnetic performances. At ENB, Rojo has made the company a major player on the world stage by commissioning such works as a reimagining of Giselle by Akram Khan, and bringing in international stars like Hernández and Jeffrey Cirio. She’s also been an advocate for female choreographers, commissioning more than 40 works by women over the course of her tenure.
In a press release, Rojo said, “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. 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.”
ENB is currently forming an advisory committee to assist the board in a search for Rojo’s replacement.