Tamara Rojo Appointed Artistic Director of San Francisco Ballet


January 11, 2022—Concluding a ten-month search, San Francisco Ballet today announced the appointment of Tamara Rojo to succeed Helgi Tomasson as Artistic Director. A former Artistic Director of the English National Ballet, Rojo is an award-winning principal dancer with thirty years as a professional ballerina, including over ten years as a principal dancer at The Royal Ballet and as a principal at English National Ballet. Rojo is San Francisco Ballet's first female Artistic Director in its 89-year history.

Tamara Rojo. Photo © Karolina Kuras
Tamara Rojo. Photo © Karolina Kuras

Helgi Tomasson, who has guided the Company for thirty-seven years, expressed his gratification with Rojo's appointment. "It has been deeply rewarding to help San Francisco Ballet grow and evolve over the past four decades, and to witness the impact we've had on both San Francisco and the world of dance," said Tomasson. "I am very excited that a fellow dancer will lead the Company with bold vision and artistry, and I look forward to seeing the innovative ideas that Tamara will bring to SF Ballet. I am confident this company will continue to thrive under her leadership."

A native of Canada, Rojo was raised in Madrid, Spain. She received a bachelor's degree in dance/choreography at the Real Conservatorio Profesional de Danza Mariemma and a master's degree in theatrical arts and a doctorate from the Universidad Rey Juan Carlos de Madrid. Her numerous honors and awards include Spain's three highest honors: the Gold Medal of Fine Arts (2002), Prince of Asturias Arts Award (2005), and Encomienda de Número Queen de Isabel La Católica (2011). She is also a recipient of the Kennedy Center Gold Medal for Fine Arts (2012); the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for distinguished services to ballet (2016); and an Olivier Award, one for Best New Dance Production in 2010 for The Brandstrup-Rojo Project, and one for Best Achievement in Dance in 2017 for ENB's repertoire. In 2021 Rojo was named a Dance Magazine Award honoree. In addition to her artistic successes, Rojo led a successful effort to raise £36-million to create a new company headquarters that opened in 2019.

Rojo conveyed her appreciation of San Francisco Ballet by saying, "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. 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 literally joining the SFB family. She is married to Isaac Hernandez, a former dancer with SFB and who was recently appointed a principal dancer with the Company. Isaac is the brother of current SFB principal dancer Esteban Hernandez, who joined the Company in 2013.

It will be interesting to see what new direction San Francisco Ballet will take under Rojo's leadership. As Artistic Director of the English National Ballet, she launched innovative programming that addressed social issues through reimagined classics and featured all-female choreographers, including Pina Bausch and Aszure Barton. Rojo's reconceived works include her upcoming Raymonda, set during the Crimean War, and her 2017 reimagined Giselle, by Bangladeshi choreographer Akram Khan, about class inequality.

Rojo will assume her role as Artistic Director with San Francisco Ballet at the end of 2022. For more information see www.sfballet.org.

Correction: A previous version of this article misstated Rojo's relationship to Isaac Hernandez and Henrique Hernandez. She is married to Isaac Hernandez.

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