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San Francisco Ballet

San Francisco Ballet, America's first classical ballet company, est. 1933 as the San Francisco Opera Ballet by the dancer Adolph Bolm. Based at the War Memorial Opera House, it presents both classical and contemporary ballets. Willam Christensen, a principal soloist there from 1937, became ballet master and choreographer in 1938. In 1942, with his brother Harold, who headed its school from 1940 to 1975, he purchased the company from the opera and renamed it. His brother Lew joined Willam as co-director in 1951 and continued as director when Willam left to start the Utah Civic Ballet. Michael Smuin was co-director from 1976 until Harold's death in 1984; Helgi Tómasson became director in 1985. The company was the first to produce complete versions of Coppélia (1938), Swan Lake (1940), and The Nutcracker (1944) in the United States.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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