Helgi Tomasson to Receive San Francisco Arts Medallion


September 30, 2021—Entering his final season with San Francisco Ballet as the longest-serving sole artistic director of a major ballet company, San Francisco Ballet Artistic Director and Principal Choreographer Helgi Tomasson will be presented with the San Francisco Arts Medallion for his outstanding leadership in the arts. The award, created by the Museum of Performance + Design (MP+D) in 2005, recognizes individuals whose distinguished work has benefited the cultural life of the San Francisco Bay Area.

Helgi Tomasson. © Erik Tomasson
Helgi Tomasson. © Erik Tomasson

"Helgi's artistry and love for dance have been a tremendous gift to the city," said MP+D Board President Pattie Lawton, who co-chairs the event with Ken Fulk, founder of Saint Joseph's Arts Society. "We are honored and thrilled to present Helgi with the Museum of Performance + Design's Arts Medallion. We are also grateful that Jim and Cecilia Herbert will continue to serve as our Honorary Co-Chairs for the rescheduled event."

A native of Iceland, Tomasson danced with Harkness Ballet, The Joffrey Ballet, and New York City Ballet before taking on the role of Artistic Director of San Francisco Ballet in 1985, leading the Company to worldwide recognition. He is known for developing collaborations with world-class choreographers to present new works, as well as presenting cherished classics. Among the more than 150 ballets he has choreographed for San Francisco Ballet are Swan Lake, The Sleeping Beauty, Romeo & Juliet (which was taped for Lincoln Center at the Movies' Great American Dance), Giselle, and Nutcracker (taped for PBS's Great Performances). His contributions to programs and performance festivals include the 1995 UNited We Dance festival, in which San Francisco Ballet hosted 12 international companies; the 2008 New Works Festival, which included 10 world premieres by 10 acclaimed choreographers; and in 2018 Unbound: A Festival of New Works. He has brought San Francisco Ballet international attention through co-commissions with American Ballet Theatre, The Royal Ballet, and Dutch National Ballet, as well as major tours to Paris, London, New York City, China, and Iceland.

Past Arts Medallion Honorees include Stanlee Gatti (2005), Gordon Getty (2006), Diane B. Wilsey (2007), Mr. & Mrs. George F. Jewett, Jr. (2008), Mayor Willie L. Brown, Jr. (2009), Nancy Hellman Bechtle (2010), Delia F. Ehrlich (2011), Roselyne Chroman Swig (2012), John Goldman (2013), Frederica von Stade (2015), Robert Mailer Anderson & Nion McEvoy (2016), Carl & Yurie Pascarella (2017), Tony Taccone (2018), and Michael Tilson Thomas (2019).

The awards ceremony will be held on October 21, 2021, at Saint Joseph's Arts Society in San Francisco and will feature performances by San Francisco Ballet and San Francisco Ballet Orchestra.

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