Premieres, encores in San Francisco Ballet’s 2014 offerings 

On Program 4 this year, “From Foreign Lands” is part of San Francisco Ballet’s 81st season lineup. - COURTESY PHOTO
  • Courtesy Photo
  • On Program 4 this year, “From Foreign Lands” is part of San Francisco Ballet’s 81st season lineup.

With a steady string of world premieres and regular accolades in the national media, the San Francisco Ballet has been on a roll the past few years, and 2014 might be even better.

America’s oldest professional ballet company announced its 81st season today. It begins Jan. 22 and ends eight programs and 61 shows later on May 11, 2014.

Artistic director Helgi Tomasson’s programming — two story ballets and a series of mixed bills — boasts new collaborations and resurrections of special works from the ballet’s repertoire, which will be interesting to see with a new generation of dancers.

Perhaps most exciting is a world premiere by British choreographer Liam Scarlett in Program 7.

Not yet 30, Scarlett has won numerous awards and is artist in residence for the Royal Ballet in London. A flexible artist, his style ranges from psychologically dramatic, Kenneth Macmillan-like narratives to post-Balanchine classicism.

Other world premieres include fresh work from veteran Val Caniparoli in Program 2 and a new Tomasson piece slated for Program 6.

Another hot ticket will be Program 5, the West Coast premiere of three one-act Alexei Ratmansky dances. Starting with “Shostakovitch No. 9,” the program is co-produced with American Ballet Theatre, where Ratmansky is resident choreographer. The second and third acts, set to Shostakovitch’s Symphony No. 1 and Chamber Symphony for Strings, debut at ABT in New York this year.

While Thomasson regularly incorporates Balanchine into the company’s repertoire, it hasn’t done some of Mr. B’s most famous, austere and fascinating works in a long time.

After more than a decade in the closet, “Agon,” a 20-minute masterpiece Balanchine choreographed in collaboration with composer Igor Stravinsky, is set for Program 8. That bill also includes Balanchine’s “Brahms-Schoenberg Quartet,” last staged here in 1986, and Jerome Robbins’ crowd-pleaser “Glass Pieces,” set to Philip Glass’ score of the same name.

Program 6 includes Mark Morris’ 1994 piece “Maelstrom” (last here in 2005), honoring Morris’ 20-year relationship with the company.

Encore performances from 2013 include Ratmansky’s “From Foreign Lands,” Wayne McGregor’s “Borderlands,” Christopher Wheeldon’s full-length “Cinderella,” Yuri Possokhov’s “The Rite of Spring” and Serge Lifar’s “Suite en Blanc.”

The full-length, romantic classic “Giselle” opens the season. Also from the vault is Marius Petipa’s stalwart “The Kingdom of the Shades” from La Bayadere in Program 3, sandwiched between Wheeldon’s “Ghosts” and Possokhov’s one-act “Firebird.”

San Francisco Ballet’s 81st Season

  • Where: War Memorial Opera House, 301 Van Ness Ave., S.F.
  • When: Jan. 22 to May 11, 2014
  • Tickets: $61 to $1,384 for subscriptions, available now; $20 and up single tickets, on sale Jan. 6
  • Contact: (415) 865-2000,

The programs

1. “Giselle,” opens Jan. 25
2. “From Foreign Lands” (Ratmansky), Caniparoli premiere, “Borderlands” (McGregor); opens Feb. 18
3. “Ghosts” (Wheeldon), “The Kingdom of the Shades” (Petipa) “Firebird” (Possokhov); opens Feb. 20
4. “Cinderella” (Wheeldon); opens March 11
5. Ratmansky trilogy; opens April 2, 2014
6. “Maelstrom” (Morris), Tomasson premiere, “The Rite of Spring” (Possokhov); opens April 4, 2014
7. “The Fifth Season” (Tomasson), Scarlett premiere, “Suite en Blanc” (Lifar); opens April 29, 2014
8. “Agon,” “Brahms-Schoenberg Quartet” (Balanchine), “Glass Pieces” (Robbins); opens May 1

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