San Francisco Ballet today announced the appointment of Tamara Rojo, its first new artistic director in nearly four decades and first woman to lead the internationally-recognized company that has balanced an innovative focus on new and contemporary choreography with a deeply held dedication to classical ballet for nine decades. Rojo comes to San Francisco from London’s English National Ballet (ENB), where she has served as artistic director and lead principal for nine and a half years, raising the company’s profile through excellence and innovation, garnering awards and accolades, and championing female choreographers.
In her new role in San Francisco, Rojo will helm America’s oldest professional ballet company, a trailblazer in dance that nurtures emerging choreographers and the development of new works, contributes to the international dance community through tours and festivals, provides world-class training opportunities in its School, and has a long history of originating well-loved cultural traditions. Her 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 San Francisco Ballet leadership, staff, dancers, and musicians.
Rojo will succeed Helgi Tomasson following his 37-year tenure and will join the Ballet at the end of 2022.Rojo will succeed Helgi Tomasson following his 37-year tenure and will join the Ballet at the end of 2022.
“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. And while internationally recognized both for its performances and training, SF Ballet has a deep, year-round commitment to San Francisco audiences and the community—a dynamic community that my family and I very much look forward to joining and exploring.”
Rojo is a celebrated leader and award-winning principal dancer recognized for artistic excellence. Her tenure as Artistic Director of the English National Ballet has featured groundbreaking programming, from recontextualized classics that directly address pertinent social issues—including Rojo’s upcoming Raymonda set during the Crimean War and her 2017 commission of a reimagined Giselle by Bangladeshi choreographer Akram Khan focusing on class inequality—to multiple programs featuring all-female choreographers such as Pina Bausch and Aszure Barton. Her leadership in the expansion of ENB’s repertory won the company an Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement in Dance in 2017. Rojo also spearheaded a successful £36-million capital campaign to create a new company headquarters that opened in 2019 while working to strengthen the organization through both innovative programming and leadership practices.